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Smithers council now has mat leave policy in place

For the first time in Smithers history, there is a council maternity and paternity leave policy.
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Smithers city council approved its 2024 five-year financial plan after a lengthy discussion during an April 9 city council meeting. (Marisca Bakker/The Interior News)

For the first time in Smithers history, there is a council maternity and paternity leave policy.

At its June 11 regular meeting, council passed a motion to enact the recently created policy to support elected officials in their decision to become parents and in their work as elected officials.

From now on, elected officials who give birth to or adopt a child are eligible for the maternity and/or parental leave benefits under this new leave policy. Also, elected officials, who are the spouse, common-law partner or co-parent of a person giving birth or adopting a child are eligible for parental leave benefits under this policy, regardless of family status or gender.

The idea was sparked earlier this year by Councillor Genevieve Paterson who is currently pregnant.

"This is one step moving forward in the right direction as far as wanting see diverstiy and inclusion increased at the table," she said.

She did ask if she had to recuse herself from voting on the motion because she is pregnant but was given the clear from town staff.

A member of council who takes a leave under this policy will not be disqualified from council by being absent from council meetings during the leave. Also, a member of council who takes a leave under this policy is not required to participate in council meetings, public hearings and council committee meetings, or meetings of other bodies to which they are appointed by council. However, they may attend meetings when they see fit. Councillor Paterson said she will attend meetings if there is an important vote on the agenda.

The town of Smithers is one of only a handful of municipalites in the province to have a maternity and paternity leave policy for council members.

Paterson is expecting her first baby next month.



Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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