North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma has announced she and her spouse are expecting their first child, due this November.
Ma, a who is in her second term as MLA, announced her pregnancy on Facebook on Tuesday.
“This is an exciting time for me and my spouse, and we are looking forward to growing our family with our first child,” she said.
Hello, little one. I can't wait to meet you in November.🧡🧡🧡 pic.twitter.com/GQX5ykUiQa— Bowinn Ma (@BowinnMa) May 16, 2023
Much of the statement, however, focused on how the change in life circumstances will impact her role as Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness as the province enters high season for disasters.
“I’m also acutely aware of the threat of flooding and wildfires that are currently and will continue to impact people and communities across British Columbia. My focus on the challenges and needs of people through the hazard season and beyond remains unbroken,” she wrote.
In an interview, Ma said a lot of work has gone into continuity plans that will make sure the government and her ministry are planning around the knowns and unknowns of her pregnancy.
“It's a weird job where your premier knows you're pregnant before your parents do,” she said. “There’s all sorts of considerations to line up.”
Plans are in place for Environment Minister George Heyman to step in as acting minister as needed, particularly in the weeks following the birth of her child, while parliamentary secretary Roly Russell and Minister of Forests Bruce Ralston will continue to support disaster preparedness and recovery, the River Forecast Centre and BC Wildfire Service in their respective roles.
“We have a great team that can ensure that communities are well supported,” Ma said.
Ma said she intends to keep working right until her baby arrives in mid-November, at which point, she will go on leave for the rest of 2023 and return to work, gradually in January.
“This will give me about two-and-a-half months to get my feet under me as a new mother before returning to the legislature with the baby for the spring of 2024,” she said. “That being said, I've certainly heard from experienced mothers that this is ambitious and so I know that I have to be prepared to be flexible about it as well… I'm also told that babies don't care very much about our schedules.”
When former Nelson-Creston NDP MLA Michelle Mungall gave birth while she was serving as minister of energy, mines, and petroleum resources in 2018, the government of the day had to amend the rules of the house to allow her bring her infant son into the chambers.
“There were a number of changes that came about as a result of her pregnancy, that I'll be able to benefit from,” Ma said.
Ma, 37, said her older colleagues in the legislature are now encouraging her to take the time and space that she needs and they are advising her to set boundaries.
“I'm working on that,” she said.
Ma said new remote work options created through the pandemic will help, and she said she and her partner will be spending more of their time in Victoria with will be less back-and-forth to North Vancouver. That necessarily will mean less time in the constituency office in Lower Lonsdale but Ma said her very capable staff will make sure that local residents’ voices are still carried to their MLA.
“That won’t change,” she said. “I am having a having a baby and I am super excited about it but also, it doesn't change my commitment to my community and to the province – that commitment I made to be there for them and to ensure that they are supported.”
With a year-and-a-half left until the next scheduled election, Ma will be leaving her options open.
“I'm going to continue to be the MLA for the remainder of the term. There will be an election, and we'll see what happens after that because anything can happen in an election,” she said.