Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


April 29, 2018

Bill 10 — Family Maintenance Enforcement Amendment Act, 2018

Hon. S. Simpson: I’m pleased to have the opportunity to join the debate in second reading around Bill 10, the Family Maintenance Enforcement Amendment Act, 2018.

This is an important piece of legislation. What this legislation does is it streamlines the provision of family maintenance orders, and it also strengthens, in a very substantive and meaningful way, the penalties. Essentially, for somebody who is $3,000 or more in arrears on family maintenance payments, they face the potential of losing their driver’s licence for not being current in their payments. This can happen fairly immediately and, certainly, will have consequences, and I’m sure it will go a long way in keeping people more current on their payments.

This is an important piece of legislation. We know that in those cases where there have been separations or divorces, where there are family maintenance payments to be made, it often is a critical piece of the income for a single parent.

We know the work that we’ve been doing around poverty reduction, the research we’ve been doing. We look at the poverty rates in this province and in the country, and almost 40 percent of single-parent families live in poverty in British Columbia. A number of those families have arrangements where there are, in fact, family maintenance arrangements put in place. In some of those instances, we certainly know that those maintenance arrangements have not been upheld appropriately by the parent who is obliged and expected to be making those payments to support their children.

In most instances, not all but in most instances, this is the case of a single mom caring for kids and a dad who may, for whatever reason, not be fulfilling their obligations under family maintenance enforcement. I think we have a situation here where this is something that needs to be corrected. I’m really pleased, as members on the other side have said, that they concur, that we need to strengthen the tools available to be able to deal with these issues.

This is not just a bureaucratic or administrative issue. This is a very real, on-the-ground issue for people who are vulnerable and who are trying to take care of their children and who need those dollars and those resources coming in and need some certainty that those dollars, those cheques, that money is going to arrive every month, as they expect it to arrive, as the courts have directed that it should arrive. We need to ensure our obligations as government. Our obligations are to ensure that in fact those orders are enforced.

This legislation, I think, gives us a very good tool. People will find ways to work around this. It’s a very small number of people, but they will find ways to work around this. But I believe that we will get their attention if we’re suggesting that they’re going to lose their driver’s licence. That will get people’s attention pretty quickly. I think it is a very good tool to do that.

I also think it’s positive that it’s structured in a way that ensures that when somebody complies, there’s not a long-drawn-out process in order to be able to get back your privilege and right to drive, to be able to get your licence back, to be able to do those things and move forward with that. That’s important as well.

This is a piece of legislation. It’s pretty straightforward. It’s fairly simple, I think, in how it approaches the problem. I’ve learned, over my years here, that sometimes things that are relatively simple solutions often are the best solutions in terms of actually getting where you want to go, that those things that kind of just look for the way to address issues is positive.

I know from the many people I’ve been talking to, particularly in the last number of months…. As we move forward around poverty reduction issues, move forward looking at ways to support what are largely the single moms who my ministry supports, and we look at how we ensure that they have the best opportunities and the resources they are entitled to, to take care of their children, and making sure that they have those resources, including the resources that should come from the other supporting parent in these cases, I think that this is positive.

I think it is going to move us forward. I think it is going to address this problem in many, many situations where it can be addressed. There will always be other challenges. There’s no doubt about that. But this is just a very meaningful, straightforward approach to make sure that those parents who are taking care of the kids have the support that they deserve, the support that they are entitled to and that, unfortunately, they don’t always get, for a variety of reasons that I think we’re probably all aware of.

I’m really pleased to support this legislation. I’m pleased that we can move it forward now. Again, I’m pleased that I believe this legislation will receive strong support throughout the House, on both sides of the House, from members who I know want to ensure that those parents who are facing challenges of taking care of their kids and entitled to this support are, in fact, getting it in communities and constituencies across British Columbia.

Hon. S. Simpson: I move second reading.

Motion approved.

Hon. S. Simpson: I move that the bill be referred to a Committee of the Whole House to be considered at the next sitting of the House after today.

Bill 10, Family Maintenance Enforcement Amendment Act, 2018, read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting of the House after today.

https://www.leg.bc.ca/documents-data/debate-transcripts/41st-parliament/3rd-session/20180419pm-Hansard-n120#120B:1425

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