Calgary MLA Stephanie McLean makes history as Alberta's first pregnant MLA
Says legislature rules aren't clear for women who have babies while in office
Stephanie McLean is making political history as Alberta's first MLA to be pregnant while in office — but the arrival of her first child could pose some challenges at the legislature, where few rules contemplate the possibility of an MLA with a newborn.
McLean's son is due in February, and the NDP MLA for Calgary-Varsity intends to return to work as soon as possible after her baby is born.
But MLAs can't take parental leave as they don't pay into employment insurance.
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McLean also notes MLAs are allowed to miss 10 sitting days but, if they exceed that number, their pay can be docked $100 per absence unless it's due to illness, bereavement or public duties.
She points out having a baby doesn't exactly fit into any of those categories.
She wants there to be some discussion about the current rules, which could allow the legislature to be more family-friendly.
Security pass for an infant?
McLean — the first Alberta MLA to go public with her pregnancy — isn't even sure what her son's status would be if she brought him to work.
"We all wear these passes around our neck with our picture on it," she said. "Am I going to have to get one of those for baby? Will they give me one?"
She also wonders what will happen if she needs to care for her son at the same time she's needed in the chamber for a vote. Could she bring him into the legislative assembly?
"People can be in the legislature during session so long as it's not causing a disturbance and so, again that really comes down to the speaker's discretion," McLean said.
More expecting MLAs expected
The rookie MLA isn't sure what rules might be altered by the time her baby arrives but she doesn't believe her pregnancy will be unique, even in the term of the current legislature.
"I may be the first ever in Alberta, but I doubt I'll be the last in these four years", said McLean, the first sitting MLA to publicly announce her pregnancy.
While no female MLA in Alberta has given birth while in office, it has happened elsewhere in Canada in the past.
Former Liberal MP Sheila Copps, B.C. Premier Christy Clark and former Quebec premier Pauline Marois are among those who have delivered a baby while serving as elected officials.