Coun. Bev Esslinger calls for parental leave policy on Edmonton city council

Coun. Bev Esslinger wants to open the door for more young parents to enter city politics by allowing cities to implement parental leave policies for their councillors.

Edmonton city councillors are currently only allowed to miss eight meetings in a row

Coun. Bev Esslinger says she would like to see more women in civic politics, and parental leave policy would reduce barriers for young women considering having a family. (CBC )

Coun. Bev Esslinger wants to open the door for more young parents to enter city politics by allowing cities to implement parental leave policies for their councillors.

​Edmonton council meets up to four times a week, between council and committee meetings. As it is now, a councillor can miss eight meetings before councils are allowed to intervene on a case-by-case basis.

"That's not really a way to plan a life," she said.

'We would like to attract more women into politics, and it's a barrier if they want to have children and they don't know if they can miss more than eight meetings in a row."- Coun. Bev Esslinger

Esslinger, the only woman on Edmonton's council, said establishing a parental leave policy would give parents or potential parents some assurance they can take care of their families and take part of in civic politics.

"Obviously, we would like to attract more women into politics, and it's a barrier if they want to have children and they don't know if they can miss more than eight meetings in a row," Esslinger said.

She convinced her fellow councillors to lobby the provincial government to allow cities and towns to create their own parental leave policies as part of the Municipal Government Act review, which will be debated in the legislature this fall.