Stephanie McLean was paid while on leave from the Legislature

The former Calgary-Varsity MLA’s resignation was announced Wednesday evening in a Facebook post by Premier Rachel Notley.

The former MLA missed the entire fall sitting of the Legislature before announcing resignation on Wednesday

Former Calgary-Varsity MLA Stephanie McLean was paid while on leave from her Legislature duties, a government spokeswoman confirmed. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Former Alberta cabinet minister Stephanie McLean was being paid while on leave during the fall session of the Legislature, a government spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

The former Calgary-Varsity MLA's resignation was announced Wednesday evening in a Facebook post by Premier Rachel Notley.

The resignation came as a surprise to many, even after McLean announced in May that she wouldn't be seeking re-election.

She was granted leave by the Speakers Office from her legislative house duties for the fall session, which wrapped its final sitting of 2018 in December.

MLAs are docked $100 per day if they miss more than 10 days while the Legislature is sitting, however there are exceptions for bereavement, or if they are sick or away on official duties.

"The only things I can think of are medical leave or stress leave, something along those lines, but we don't know," said Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt.

"Obviously it's personal, she was given permission, but it does raise a lot of questions."

McLean was formerly minister for the status of women and Service Alberta.

In a statement, McLean told CBC News her resignation was effective immediately and that she is pursuing a job offer with a law firm.

It's not yet known if the current legislature will hold another sitting before the spring election, which has to be called by May 31.

No byelection needed

Because there is less than six months before an election has to be called, there is no need for a byelection for McLean's seat.

McLean made history as the first MLA in the province to give birth while holding office.

She is one of 10 MLAs who won't be seeking re-election this spring, including Brandy Payne, Brian Mason, Bob Wanner, Bob Turner, Michael Connolly, Jamie Kleinsteuber, Robyn Luff, Richard Starke and Rick Strankman.

Bratt said he has been tracking since 1971 the number of MLAs who don't seek re-election, and the number this time is "below average."

"The opposition is going to say every time someone steps away it's because they're not going to be re-elected … that's not necessarily the case," he said.

Bratt says the rate of MLA turnover was significantly higher during the last provincial election in 2015.