How do we attract more women into politics? How do we keep them in politics? These are questions I have been asked since I was elected the only women onto CIty Council in 2013. I think there are some great campaigns out by Equal Voice and others to encourage women to run. Are there other barriers to women running for office?
Recently at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference, the issue of parental leave for councillors was discussed. Quebec recently acknowledged the need to provide some and has instituted 18 weeks of parental leave.
In Alberta under the current Municipal Government Act (MGA) there is not a provision for parental leave. Current rules indicate that after 8 consecutive weeks of absences a councillor is disqualified. An exception can be made by a resolution of council passed on each circumstance. Last week I present a motion to council to request a provision in the new Municipal Government Act to allow municipalities to create policies to provide parental leave for councillors. City Council unanimously approved of the consideration.
If this was embedded in the MGA then each municipality could then create a policy for parental leave for their councils. This would provide confidence that a councillor would be provided parental leave based on the policy.