ALBERTA

Alberta's First Pregnant MLA Has Notley Looking To Change Parental Leave Rules

11/05/2015 11:04 EST | Updated 11/05/2015 11:59 EST
Rachel Notley/Facebook

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says her government will look into changing "an archaic piece of legislation'' in order to allow more flexibility for members of the legislature who want to take parental leave.

Under current legislation, sitting MLAs cannot take paid maternity or parental leave because they do not pay into Employment Insurance.

The house rules also state that any MLA who misses more than 10 days in the house will have their pay docked by $100 per day, unless it's for illness, injury, bereavement or official business.

The legislation hasn't been an issue until now because for the first time, there is a pregnant MLA.

Calgary-Varsity MLA Stephanie McLean is expecting a child early next year.

That has caused the government to stop and reconsider the policy.

"It is, I would suggest, an archaic piece of legislation ... and probably would not withstand the test of a Charter challenge,'' said Notley.

"We are looking at ways to fix it but we will fix it and we will make sure that she suffers no economic loss.''

Notley did note, though, that taking time off as an MLA does bring up some concerns about how constituents would be properly represented.

"It's a bit of a different situation when you're in an elected position for a short term,'' she said. "How do you balance those interests and the interests of your constituents to have representation against the fact that other people get the full year off through mat leave?

"There's going to have to be some creative problem solving on this one but the key is to acknowledge that elected officials have kids.''

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