After years of hesitation, the National Assembly will host a daycare pilot to make work-life balance easier for MNAs and employees. A “giant step” for elected officials who have or plan to have young children.
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“It is a game changer for many young politicians!” exclaimed United MEP Émilise Lessard-Therrien, mother of two little girls.
Life as a parliamentarian comes with its own set of challenges: long hours, sometimes extending late into the evening, and countless trips between riding and the Quebec Parliament to sit at least three days a week, sometimes more. A difficult rhythm to reconcile when you have a young family.
The MNA for Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue does not hide the fact that the distance that separates her from her children when she takes office in the National Assembly sometimes breaks her heart.
“Always being away, never being able to pick up the children from daycare, not being able to pick them up in the morning, not being able to accompany them with their homework in the evening, that can weigh. I want to be a mother who is present in my children’s lives,” she confides.
But things are changing. The National Assembly will be held “during the 43rde Legislative” in the Jean Antoine Panet building next to the People’s House. Members of Parliament, political staff and administrative employees of Parliament can bring their children aged 0 to 10 years. The decision was taken at the very end of the term by a committee made up of all political parties.
If re-elected on Oct. 3, life will be made easier for Émilise Lessard-Therrien by the drop-in daycare.
But the solidarity community is not the only one who wants to use this new service. Five-month pregnant liberal Marwah Rizqy welcomes the introduction of this new measure to facilitate reconciliation between politics and family.
“This is a huge step. We have been asking the National Assembly to modernize it for several years, and we are trying to have a National Assembly that represents the people. Young MPs have a very difficult time without a daycare center […] having a young family,” emphasizes the member for Saint-Laurent.
Marwah Rizqy, who could accuse MPs of privilege when there is a blatant lack of childcare places, emphasizes that this is a drop-in daycare center, i.e. a breakdown service, not a daycare center or a CPE.
“If we want employers, universities and CEGEPs to set up day care centers to reconcile work and family, study and family, the National Assembly must also set the tone and say that this is essential,” she demands.
PQ Martin Ouellet will leave politics at the end of his term. The father of two children found it difficult to reconcile working as a substitute and family life. Especially as he represents the remote riding of René-Lévesque on the North Shore. This is also one of the reasons for his departure.
When he entered Parliament, his son and daughter were three and six years old. A drop-in daycare would certainly have made things easier and allowed him to go to Quebec with his family more often.
“If I could have shortened the distances, the absences, I might have been less exhausted and found it less stressful to be away for long weeks and to leave my family,” he says.
Émilise Lessard-Therrien, Marwah Rizqy and Martin Ouellet agree that the next step to improve the reconciliation of politics and family is to introduce parental leave for parliamentarians.
A more than welcome project
File photo, Stevens LeBlanc
“It’s really an argument that will allow us to find other young elected officials, both women and men.”
– Liberal MP Marwah Rizqy
“I say to those who want to go into politics, young parents, come for your party, come for your party’s values, but also come to change the way things are done. That is what society demands and that is what people also expect from politics, more humane, closer to the world.”
– PQ MEP Martin Ouellet
“For me it is important. I tell myself that maybe it will not be just another mandate that I will consider, but a 3rd onee or a 4eKnowing that my daughters can join me more regularly and that I’m less conflicted, I will feel less likely to let them down in their day-to-day lives at home.
– Solidarity MNA Émilise Lessard-Therrien