As a House of Commons committee looks at making the job of elected officials more family-friendly, Canada's MPs are considering several measures including ending Friday sittings in Parliament.
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Some MPs talk about the strain of attempting a family-work balance, including not seeing their children for days at a time. MPs also argue the issue keeps some people from running for office.
However, Conservative MP Lisa Raitt warns against a four-day week, saying it would be unacceptable to most Canadians.
Other suggestions include allowing breastfeeding in the House of Commons, conducting votes via the internet on Skype or moving to a two-week-on, two-week-off schedule.
What steps should be taken to make Parliament more family-friendly?
Readers let us know in today's CBC Forum — a live, hosted discussion about topics of national interest.
(Please note that user names are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style. Click on the user name to see the full comment in the blog format.)
The vast majority of commenters said the MPs shouldn't expect any changes.
"These are not drafted positions. These people seek these positions out and need to be prepared for the commitment that comes with it. I also missed the first day of school and my child's first steps, because that is what it means to be a working parent." — Laura
"It's a job that is taxing on families, but also something they aren't forced to do. Easy answer: don't take the job if you don't want to have to sacrifice. Interesting [that] MPs are more concerned about themselves than, say, the thousands of Maritimers that have done two weeks on, two off in Alberta for years." — Dan Gallant
Several commenters said being an MP is a service, comparable to serving in the military.
"How about making the military a more family-friendly place to work? We are regularly expected to work weekends and a few years ago had our weekday work hours extended. We have to work 25 years and potentially go to dangerous places, away from our families for months on end, in order to get 50 per cent of our pension, while MPs get 100 per cent after 8 years of sitting in Ottawa and flying home first-class whenever they choose. When our work hours were extended, we were told that we make good money and can work for it. I suggest that our MPs set the example." — CF_Member1138
While most commenters were against any change to sittings in the House of Commons, several did support holding more meetings over the internet.
"In this day and age, there is no real reason why people need to be physically in the same place in order to get work done. Is there any reason that many of these meetings can't be conducted by means of video teleconference? I completely support the much stronger emphasis on family. But, if it's going to create problems with attending meetings, et cetera, why aren't they able to be there virtually?"— Mike
"We absolutely have to encourage the involvement of young people, particularly young women, in politics. It is not fair to compare MPs' work schedule to other professionals because of the constant travel involved between Ottawa and their constituencies. With all the technological capabilities now available to the world, surely accommodating these families can be figured out." — SueB
Meanwhile, several commenters said MPs deserve quality family time.
"It's about time that we, as Canadians, focus on family first. Whether you are an MP or not, families are missing out on quality time as dual-income parents are away from their children while employers are less flexible. Let's value family connections and start putting Canadian families first, beginning with our members of Parliament!" — Jennifer Lafreniere
"Someone should share the statistics on how many divorces and separations occur for MPs. Families torn apart, especially for those whose ridings are not in the capital region. Current work schedule, including constituency time, is such that we do a great disservice to those Canadians who can make a contribution to our nation when we ask those who seek office to choose between family, children and that calling. Most wisely choose their family (children) and never make the contribution that could raise the level and quality of MPs and debate." — East Lake
You can read the complete discussion below.