B.C. government clawback of child-support payments riles single parents

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      Pressure is mounting on the B.C. government to reverse a long-standing policy to claw back family-support payments from recipients of income- and disability-assistance cheques.

      On December 23, nearly two dozen members of the antipoverty group B.C. Acorn stood outside B.C. Liberal MLA Richard Lee's constituency office in Burnaby North. 

      They left empty gift boxes to reflect their view that Premier Christy Clark's pledge to put families first was an empty promise.

      One of the speakers at the rally, single father David Little, said he's been paying child support for 10 years to his ex-wife, who is on disability assistance.

      He claimed that this means the B.C. government has clawed back $30,000 that should have gone to his kids to pay for their postsecondary education or to improve their quality of life.

      The B.C. government launched a consultation process on December 10 on the clawbacks, which were introduced by the Gordon Campbell government shortly after it took power in 2001.

      Single mother Tabitha Naismith, who was at the B.C. Acorn action, said that the consultation period runs until the end of February, which means it may not produce results until after the next provincial budget is introduced.

      The consultation has begun after single moms filed a lawsuit against the B.C. government, claiming that the clawback violates single parents' equality rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

      Single Mothers' Alliance of B.C. cofounder Viveca Ellis has characterized the clawback as "a save-a-penny, starve-a-child government policy".

      "It actually takes food and activities and health away from them," Ellis told the Straight in August.

      In a commentary on Straight.com earlier this year, NDP social-development critic Michelle Mungall wrote that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that child support is the right of the child.

      "At no point should child support ever be interpreted as a revenue stream for government," she stated. "And yet that is exactly what the B.C. Liberals have been doing for more than a decade."

      At the time, Mungall urged people to write to the premier (premier@gov.bc.ca) and Social Development Minister Don McRae (SDSI.minister@gov.bc.ca) or tweet them @ChristyClarkBC and @DonMcRaeMLA.



      Adrian C.Y. Fu

      Dec 25, 2014 at 10:14am

      The BC Liberal Party is cruel and nasty!


      Dec 26, 2014 at 7:42am

      I know 2 people who opted out of the family maintenance program and made payments direct to their ex wifes so it can't be reported as income when they were going through hard times and needed government support... which is a total joke.


      Dec 26, 2014 at 10:50am

      Families First!

      Taking from the poor and most vulnerable is bad for the middle class.

      And yet they will still be re-elected.


      Dec 27, 2014 at 12:41am

      The parents need to just PAY for their children, without having the government impose the payment through force.

      They are YOUR children. so whether it was a one night stand, a short term relationship, common-law, etc.. or a marriage that ended in divorced, Have a plan and when you end the relationship PAY YOUR share. without the other people taking you to court. PAY HALF. no excuses.

      Notice, This doesn't happen when a couple has children and STAYS together. both the parents are taking care of their children.

      so the problem is not the government..it is the 2 single people that cant take care of their responsibility of their children.

      Jamie Alguire

      Feb 15, 2015 at 9:31pm

      Accounting for social assistance payments according to support payments received does not 'claw back' support payments, it reduces the social assistance payment.
      There is no 'taking from the poor'. Look at the simple facts without sensationalizing it; we all agree that social assistance is needed, but it shouldnt be abused... Let's all be honest with ourselves here, we all know it gets abused, so it has to be minimized.