Regina Douglas Park MLA Nicole Sarauer has the distinction of being Saskatchewan’s second female Opposition Leader, and now she is the province’s first pregnant sitting MLA.
Sarauer announced her pregnancy through social media Thursday night. She and her husband welcome the new addition to their family in July.
“The timing worked for us and our family so we got lucky and are very happy that this is happening for us,” Sarauer said.
“It’s pretty wild to me that in 114 years we haven’t had a sitting MLA give birth in Saskatchewan before.”
But according to the son of Gay Caswell, who from 1982 to 1986 represented Saskatoon Westmount, his mother birthed two children while sitting as MLA.
MLAs, like Saskatoon Riverdale MLA Danielle Chariter, had infants at home when they were first elected.
Male MLAs, most recently Environment Minister Dustin Duncan, have also welcomed new children during their terms.
Elected officials do not have access to regular parental leave because they don’t contribute to employment insurance.
Sarauer said that MLAs are lucky that they do have a set schedule of sitting days, which is beneficial for young families, but sees room for improvement.
“I think there are some changes that can happen here that we’ve seen happen in other provinces. That’s some work I’m hopeful will happen with my caucus and in conjunction with government’s side,” she said.
“I don’t know details right now because I’m still working on that, but hopefully in the spring we’ll be able to push some things forward.”
Sarauer added a one year maternity leave wouldn’t work with elected officials, because someone can’t just step in for a year. She said ideas include leave allowances during session and allowing new mothers to breast feed in the chambers.
MLAs are required to be present when the legislature is sitting.
In Saskatchewan’s 114 year history there have only been 56 female MLAs. Sarauer hopes that bringing in provisions to make the job more accommodating to new mothers can lead to more women entering politics.
“It’s becoming more the norm, as it should be, and the more we see this sort of change hopefully more women and young women, in particular, see this as a prospective career path for them,” Sarauer said.
Correction: The article originally identified Sarauer as first female Opposition Leader. Lynda Haverstock was first, leading the Saskatchewan Liberals in 1995.
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