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Cressy calls for councillors on parental leave to be allowed proxy votes
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Thursday, January 16, 2020 10:36AM EST
Toronto city councillor and new father Joe Cressy wants the city to revise its parental leave policy so that members of council can vote by proxy while home caring for a newborn.
In 2018, city council approved a parental leave policy that allows members to take 20 paid weeks off upon the birth or adoption of a child.
The policy does allow councillors on leave to attend meetings of city council or committees and exercise their voting rights but if they don’t show up in person they will be marked as absent, meaning there is no way for them to vote on key matters without being there in person.
In a letter that will be considered by Mayor John Tory’s executive committee on Jan. 23, Cressy calls on staff to explore the possibility of a proxy vote that would allow members to still cast ballots on matters of concern to their constituents while on parental leave.
He also said that staff should explore “extra staffing support for the council office during the leave period.”
“Governments around the world are just starting to finally consider parental leave for politicians. The UK has a proxy voting system for MPs, Canada’s Parliament just put in place a one-year leave policy and Toronto adopted our own on 2018,” Cressy said in an email to CP24. “Unfortunately it hasn’t been used yet and there is a glaring issue - councillors can take up to 20 weeks of leave but there is no proxy vote or replacement. So, we can take leave but either we come back for every committee and council meeting to vote or we stay with our kid and our constituents/city are down a vote.”
In his letter, Cressy said that it is “incumbent” on council to review the parental leave policy “to ensure that it is appropriate and will be readily used in the future.”