The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) has adopted a paid maternity and parental leave policy for its Board of Directors.
The regional district adopted the new policy at the Sept. 29 board meeting, and made it so all elected representatives are eligible for up to six months of paid maternity and parental leave.
Work to develop the policy began in May 2021, following a request for consideration from District of Squamish SLRD director Jenna Stoner.
“It’s fantastic to be able to support this initiative,” said SLRD Board Chair Jen Ford in a release.
“The conversations have been meaningful, and the work has been thoughtful and thorough. I’m proud of our team—from Director Stoner for bringing this forward, to the Board for their unwavering support and, of course, to the SLRD staff for bringing it all together in a meaningful way. This is the legacy work of which we can all be proud."
With the new policy, the SLRD becomes one of the few regional districts in the province to provide paid maternity and parental leave for its elected representatives.
Two other regional districts, Central Kootenay and Fraser-Fort George, adopted similar policies earlier this year.
“I am so pleased to see this move forward. A lack of parental leave policies was one of the main reasons I almost chose not to run in 2018.” Stoner said in the release.
“There is no doubt that having policies like this one in place will make our locally-elected governments more diverse, inclusive and representative of the communities we serve. I would like to thank the Board for their support on this, and staff, as well, for their commitment to this important work."
Electoral Area D Director Tony Rainbow noted the importance of the policy in raising the level of engagement moving forward.
“There are many obstacles that get in the way of people choosing to pursue the work of local government, at the elected official level,” Rainbow said. “It’s fantastic to be able to help lessen the impact of one of those obstacles and make running for local office more accessible in the future.”
Municipal-level politicians receiving maternity and parental leave is a relatively new concept in British Columbia. Whistler was the first municipality in the province to adopt such a policy in 2014, followed by Squamish in 2019.
The list of municipalities adopting a maternity leave policy has grown longer as the idea has become more mainstream. Over the last few years, the District of North Saanich, New Westminster, and Coquitlam have adopted similar maternity leave policies.
At the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention, Squamish moved forward with a resolution encouraging all municipalities in the province to adopt a maternity leave policy, and the resolution passed.
More information about the new policy can be found here.