(Black Press Media file photo)

(Black Press Media file photo)

B.C. has no parental leave policy for elected councillors, so town makes its own

No provisions under B.C. Community Charter to allow new parents time off without disqualification

Last month, Saanich became one of the few municipalities in B.C. to adopt a formal policy to allow members of council to go on maternity or parental leave during their term.

Council unanimously approved the policy for elected officials after staff highlighted the fact that there is no provision under the B.C. Community Charter for new parents to take time off without being disqualified from serving on council.

The lack of a parental leave policy came to staff’s attention after the province updated the Employment Standards Act (ESA) legislation on parental leave in 2019, explained Laura Ciarniello, director of corporate services.

READ ALSO: Maternity leave furor could give birth to new legislation

The Community Charter controls municipal councils but doesn’t include provisions for maternal or parental leave, she said. Per the charter, if a councillor is absent for 60 days in a row or misses four consecutive meetings, they would be disqualified from holding office – unless they’re ill, injured or have council’s permission.

While so far no Saanich councillor has ever asked to go on leave for a new child, staff felt there should be a specific policy to guide council in the future, she said.

READ ALSO: Pregnant B.C. woman catches COVID-19 days before giving birth

After consulting with some 20 other B.C. municipalities, staff found only four others had a formal parental leave policy.

In the name of reducing barriers to participation in Saanich governance, staff drafted a policy to allow councillors to provide written notice six weeks before going on leave for up to 78 weeks – whether they or their partner are giving birth or adopting. Per the policy, the leave would be automatically approved without a council vote and there is a provision for councillors to specify if they would like to continue with some of their duties while on leave.

READ ALSO: Highlands woman gives birth on driveway

Saanich’s council maternal and parental leave policy is in line with the ESA and is worded to ensure all families are included. Ciarniello hopes the implementation will encourage young people to get involved in municipal politics without worrying about the impact of potential family plans.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

District of SaanichMunicipal GovernmentParenting

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

BC CDC data showing the geographic distribution of COVID cases in the province. (BC CDC photo)
One new case of COVID-19 in Golden

Cases continue to surge in surrounding areas

The Golden Golf Club will open for a new season on the links beginning April 24. (Claire Palmer photo)
Golden Golf club eyes April 24 start

The golf course is supporting local businesses with the driving range and mini-golf

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A in Princeton

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a truck fire on Dallas Road in Vernon April 15, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
WATCH: Vernon firefighters quick to douse fully involved truck fire

The fire was near multiple structures and spreading along the ground upon crews’ arrival

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

Fire crews tend to a collision that is causing severe traffic delays on the William R. Bennett bridge headed east into Kelowna. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
7 vehicle collision on WR Bennett Bridge under investigation

The collision backed up traffic on the William R. Bennett bridge for much of the morning

Kelowna company celebrates milestone of producing 46 million masks in under a year.
46 million masks and counting: Kelowna company reaches 1 year milstone

In under a year, Breathe Manufacturing Ltd. in Kelowna has hit production of 46 million masks for front-line workers

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna RCMP investigating hit and run involving 11-year-old

Police said the boy suffered minor injuries

Most Read