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Girls & Women

Canadian Politician Will Become First Cabinet Minister to Take Maternity Leave

Canada’s Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould is about to become the first federal minister to have a baby while in office.

Gould’s first child is due in early March and she plans to take a leave until at least May, according to the Canadian Press. She will be in the House of Commons for another week, and then she will work from home as minister until her baby is born.

Gould is the first cabinet minister to ever have been pregnant in the history of the country's politics — a fact that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought up at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington last October.

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"She’s going to have a baby in the spring, it’s hugely amazing, but what do we do about maternity leave? [This is] the first minister in Canada and maybe one of the first in Western democracies to be having a kid," Trudeau said.

There is no precedent to follow when it comes to maternity leave for cabinet ministers, so Trudeau’s team had the opportunity to lead the way.

A spokeswoman said that Trudeau has left it up to Gould to decide when she will return to work.

Read More: Trudeau: Appointing Women to Cabinet Is Just the Start of Creating Gender Balance

"Part of encouraging the next generation of young women to run for office is demonstrating that our institutions are modern, family-friendly, and that the experiences they bring to the table will contribute to their success," Trudeau said in a statement.

Unlike many working Canadians, MPs and cabinet ministers don’t pay into employment insurance and so do not qualify for maternity leave pay. They are entitled to 21 days of medical leave and can work out other arrangements with their party leadership if they so choose, according to the Canadian Press.

Since Confederation in 1867, only 60 women have held a federal cabinet post in Canada. In fact, the first woman was appointed only in 1957.

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As women become more politically involved, situations like this will hopefully become less unique.

"I look forward to joining other new parents in the House of Commons who prove each and every day that it is possible to have a career in politics and start a family," Gould wrote in a Twitter post on Friday.

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