The Town of Blackfalds has become one of only a few municipalities in Alberta to give parental leave to council members for the birth or adoption of a child.

Sylvan Lake did that earlier this year. Calgary and Edmonton were the only others town officials knew of.

Coun. Rebecca Stendie, herself a young mother, said she isn’t sure what’s taken so long.

“It’s nice to see that we’re progressing a little bit though and it’s definitely something I’d like to see continue. Families are important. Blackfalds especially has a super-fast growing population and it would be nice to give moms and dads equal opportunities in the workforce,” Stendie said after council passed its parental leave bylaw for elected officials on Tuesday night.

Under the bylaw, the mayor and council will be eligible for leave after serving for six months.

The leave would be for a maximum of 20 weeks, though council could approve an extension.

While a council member is on leave, he or she would be entitled to 55 per cent of their base honorarium -- pay for serving on council only, not including compensation for serving on boards or commissions. They would also receive benefits.

Parental leave for elected officials is something local governments have to address now that the province has revised the Municipal Government Act -- the law which sets out how municipalities are to conduct themselves.

According to the town, granting parental leave removes barriers and should encourage a more diverse range of candidates to run for office in the future.

“This is a fantastic opportunities for the young families in our community to get involved in politics,” Stendie said.

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