Nova Scotia

Halifax council close to having parental leaves for councillors

Proposed new rules were introduced at Halifax's executive committee on Monday, which would allow an elected official to miss meetings for up to a year without needing to get special permission or be penalized.

'The policy is intended to remove barriers,' says Kevin Arjoon, Halifax's municipal clerk

The leave policy applies to pregnancies, births and adoptions. (Shutterstock)

Halifax is one step closer to adopting a policy to accommodate councillors who need parental leave.

Proposed new rules were introduced at the city's executive committee on Monday, which would allow an elected official to miss meetings for up to a year without needing to get special permission or be penalized.

"The policy is intended to remove barriers," said Kevin Arjoon, the city's municipal clerk. "A person on leave can come back to a meeting during their leave to present or to vote, it's very flexible."

The leave policy applies to pregnancies, births and adoptions. It will go to Halifax regional council for final approval in mid-June.

The Municipality of the County of Kings adopted similar rules in July 2018 after two councillors became pregnant. One of them, Emily Lutz, is pleased to see Halifax start to follow suit.

"I think this has the potential to eliminate some of the uncertainty for young people who may be considering offering for council, especially those who may want to start a family," she said.

Provincial legislation

Lutz expects to see other municipalities adopt the practice as well.

The province amended the Municipal Government Act and Halifax's charter in April 2018 to allow parental accommodation policies for elected officials.

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