Legislation introduced today, April 6, will provide parental accommodation for elected municipal officials.
Amendments to section 18 of the Municipal Government Act, section 39 of the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter and section 2 and section 18 of the Municipal Elections Act will:
— define parental accommodation which would encompass pregnancy, birth and the adoption of a child
— allow those who are pregnant or have recently become a parent to miss three council meetings without risk of losing their seat and without financial penalty for up to a maximum of 52 weeks
— allow any elected official who is absent due to parental leave to return to committees on which they previously served.
Currently, parental leave is granted by a motion of council. Requests for leave may be publicly debated.
“These amendments will ensure that any elected official in any municipality can make personal family decisions in private, without a public debate or motion of council and that they can take an extended leave without penalty,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Derek Mombourquette. “This is an important and critical step toward encouraging greater participation in municipal government and I hope more young people will feel supported should they decide to seek public office.”
The changes were developed with input from the Parental Accommodations Committee which included representatives from the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the Nova Scotia Village Commission, the Association of Municipal Administrators Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women.