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Calgary committee to consider leaves for boards, commissions, committee volunteers

Coun. Jasmine Mian said citizen passion to volunteer on various city boards, committees and commissions doesn’t end when life changes.

That’s why the Ward 3 councillor, along with four other colleagues, is putting forth a notice of motion to Tuesday’s executive committee meeting asking to review potential leave for those members.

Calgary approved a bylaw in 2018 to allow councillors maternity and parental leave from council. That didn’t extend to the volunteers on Calgary’s board, committees and commissions (BCCs).

The proposed notice of motion would include bereavement, medical leave and caregiver leave as well.

There are 87 BCCs listed by the city.

“Our citizen volunteers who give time to our boards, committees and commissions do so because they’re very passionate and want to make a difference,” Mian said.

“That passion doesn’t go away when their life circumstances change through welcoming a baby or taking care of an aging parent.”

Mian said if the institutional policy doesn’t change the city risks losing out on talented Calgarians. It could also send a subtle message that taking care of family isn’t as important as city business.

A Feb. 17 piece by author Robert Falconer, research associate with UCalgary’s School of Public Policy, showed Canadian cities all below the fertility replacement rate (2.1 children).  

“Addressing the decline in municipal fertility rates requires immigration or pro-natalist policies,” the paper read.

Mian said this is that type of pronatalist policy. The city also needs to play a stronger role in immigration and resettlement, she said.

“This is a small step in that direction,” Mian said.

Success = Number of leaves: Mian

The Ward 3 councillor said that an early indicator of the success, should this be adopted, would be to see an increase in leaves by members.

It has been an issue on BCCs, said Mian. Not the biggest problem, perhaps, but it responds to concerns raised by members.

“I think it is proactive in the sense that it’ll probably continue to come up if we don’t address it,” she said.

The matter will come up in executive committee for technical review only. If approved it would go to a full meeting of council for debate and approval.

It would be forwarded to the March 8 meeting of council. Mian pointed out that date is International Women’s Day.

“It gives us the opportunity to walk the talk,” she said.