by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent
The next council may have their childcare costs covered during Town meetings following a motion from Councillor Brennan FitzGerald. The Notice of Motion came forward at Council’s Mar. 28 meeting for debate. It calls for the reimbursement for childcare services offered to councillors during official Town meetings/business, provided the amounts were reasonable.
FitzGerald argued his motion was intended to provide more opportunities for single parent residents to consider running for council and would “enable more women to be able to run for council.” Fitzgerald stated that while the motion is not gender specific (any councillor could be reimbursed for childcare costs) the intent of the motion was targeted at enabling more women to run for council, which has always had a majority of male members.
The motion received a lukewarm reception from some councillors, but responses were generally positive. Councillor Stephen Dafoe commented saying that after having spoken with some residents about the idea, “they said well… nobody pays for my babysitter [when I have to go to work].”
Dafoe went on to say that councillors already get a per diem for attending meetings, and this could potentially be applied to childcare costs. Further, he went on to argue that the motion should have a cap on maximum costs that would be covered, rather than simply “what is reasonable.”
Mayor Lisa Holmes noted her clear support saying “it’s absolutely necessary.” She related her own experience of having to pick up childcare costs because of her role.
Many other members of Council noted their general support but thought t hat the mechanics of the legislation needed to developed, including caps on the amount. Councillor Barry Turner made a motion to differ the motion to Committee of the Whole (COW) for further discussion, which passed unanimously.
Multiple councillors have since asked for comments on social media on the public’s response to the concept ahead of April’s COW meeting where the idea will be furthered discussed.