Income inequality hurting Hamilton

Widening income inequality is hurting our poorest residents and our democracy, says a new report from the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton.

The report shows the average income of the city’s richest residents has grown by almost half since 1982, compared to a meagre increase of about 2 per cent for most of the rest of the population.

Specifically, the top 1 per cent of richest Hamilton-area residents make an average of $406,000, while the bottom 90 per cent pull in an average of about $31,000.

That growing disparity is damaging the economy, hurting low-income residents and disillusioning voters, argues social planner Sara Mayo.

She lists worsening mental health and “increased cynicism” as byproducts of the growing income gap, which makes it harder “to move from one economic class to another.”

The report calls for more progressive taxes, better income supports and a higher minimum wage, among several recommendations to battle the gap.

The Rich and the Rest of Us will be discussed at a free forum Wednesday night at the Lincoln Alexander Centre at 160 King St. E. Doors open at 6 p.m. with dinner at 6:30. A live town hall forum is scheduled for 7:30.

To read the report, visit sprc.hamilton.on.ca.