Michelle Mungall: B.C. Liberals’ child support clawback hurts families

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      Every child deserves the very best we can offer. In a province as wealthy as British Columbia, we can do so much more for our kids than 10 years of the highest child poverty in the country. Much needs to be done, but one thing government could do right now is end the clawback of child support from children whose parents receive income assistance.

      The Supreme Court of Canada is clear that child support is the right of the child. Children are entitled to a decent standard of living and to have their needs met. This is the purpose of child support payments from one parent to another. At no point should child support ever be interpreted as a revenue stream for government. And yet that is exactly what the B.C. Liberals have been doing for more than a decade.

      Since 2002, the B.C. Liberals have been clawing back child support payments dollar for dollar every month from children whose parents receive income assistance. Many of these parents are single moms with disabilities.

      Single mothers like Rachel Goodine are raising their children on roughly $1,000 per month. That $1,000 is supposed to pay for rent, clothes, food, and utilities. But it doesn’t. Rachel, like other moms in her shoes, struggles to feed her daughter.

      Rachel’s little girl and so many others like her make up the 30 percent of B.C. food bank clients who are children.

      Several single mothers whose children are impacted by the child support clawback recently came to the legislature. They shared their stories, and urged Premier Christy Clark to do the right thing and stop taking money from their children. You can imagine how disappointing it was for the mothers and their children to be dismissed by Clark when she refused to answer their call to end the clawback.

      While the B.C. Liberals found $17 million to spend on partisan pre-election advertising last year, somehow Premier Clark and Social Development Minister Don McRae say they can't afford to stop taking $17 million out of the hands of B.C.'s poorest kids.

      It's wrong, and it has to stop. No one wants to see children’s support payments go to B.C. Liberal government self-promoting advertising.

      British Columbians don’t want to see our children go hungry, or wear shoes that are too small and worn out. People want kids to keep their child support to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy school lunches, and a warm winter coat.

      Far from putting these families first, Premier Christy Clark is shutting the door of opportunity to children. This has to stop.

      The government needs to end the clawback immediately. The benefits now and into the future most certainly exceed $17 million. But just as importantly, it is the right thing to do.

      Be someone who stands up for B.C.’s poorest kids. Tell the premier and minster of social development that you want the child support clawback ended immediately. Write to them at premier@gov.bc.ca and SDSI.minister@gov.bc.ca. Tweet them at @ChristyClarkBC and @DonMcRaeMLA.

      Together, we can build a better B.C.




      Apr 26, 2014 at 5:41am

      Worst. Government. EVER!


      Apr 26, 2014 at 11:43pm

      Remember when Christy Clark was Minister of Education in Gordon Campbell's cabinet circa 2001? As a new Mom she renovated the room across from her Legislative office ($100,000. +)so she could have daycare while she simultaneously diminished education and daycare budgets. A decade later and B.C. has the second lowest education spending in the country and the highest child poverty. One in five does not graduate grade 12. B.C. Liberals--their legacy endures!

      stadium guy

      Apr 27, 2014 at 3:30pm

      Isn't this the same thing the NDP government in Manitoba does? Your are right Meathead, that is the worst government in Manitoba!


      Apr 27, 2014 at 6:59pm

      Unfortunately, every province in Canada has a policy like this (except for Quebec, which allows single parents to keep 200 dollars of child support). B.C. could be a national leader, should the Liberals choose to take action on this issue.

      The NDP has no right to criticize the Liberals.

      Apr 27, 2014 at 8:13pm

      While I agree that to clawback child support payments to the poorest families in B.C. is harmful to the children in these families, the fact is the NDP forfeited its right to criticize the Liberals by instituting equally as harmful policies under Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark (e.g. refusing to serve refugees, freezing rates, attacking the poor, whom Harcourt called 'dead beats'). The problem for the pseudo left parties like the NDP (or Democrats in the U.S. or Labour in U.K.) is that they all have history of instituting equally reactionary policies when they are in power. The NDP may be better than the Liberals, but they (the NDP) are still bad, and a politics based on picking the "least bad" party is no politics at all, it is resignation.

      Robert Smith

      Feb 14, 2015 at 3:06am

      I've been an advocate for the children of divorce since 1998 when I joined a shared parenting group. In 2002 I dubbed child support claw back as NCPT, non-custodial parent tax. We complied a long list of the most adverse affect and based on the child poverty rate in 2005 I predicted the effects of Gen U turning street age in 2015 could not be hidden by further cooking of the crime rate. The latest crime rate cook off resulted in huge claims crime rates were down to 70's levels but in reality Vancouver hit a property crime record in 2009 that attracted the largest number of gangs per capita in 2010. Along with other dismal studies on the mental health of our youth the 2013 child poverty rate had doubled to 1 in 5 over the decade. As child poverty in the #1 indicator of a criminal lifestyle the best argument the government has is protecting the taxpayers. It was only a few years ago the government was blaming child poverty on dead broke dads but in fact 90% of child support is paid and that's in a top G-8 economy so the excuse has changed,,, but not the results.
      The basic taxpayer protection plan.
      If there is even a whiff the child support will line government pockets the sole custody rate with child support hits 100% ensuring that more taxpayers will be protected. FMEP then spends the majority of its budget tracking down the child support owed to the province through claw backs.
      Robert Smith
      Chilliwack BC