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Provincial governments clawback much needed child support on welfare programs.

by myalisal,

I am a disabled single mom. I used to be fit but in 2014 I had to suddenly leave my wonderful career as a school bus driver as out of the blue as I succumbed to a serious immune system disorder known as psoriasis arthritis. This disease is horrible and I'm in awe that it isnt as well known as other disorders like lupis becuse it's very similar to lupis. Due to my joints and ligaments suddenly being attacked by my immune system I had no choice but to take EI for a few months hoping that the chemo drug I was on would stop the diseases progression, but my condition didn't improve and I ended up having to go onto the welfare program in my province. Not only that the drugs were making me even more ill with terrible side effects. Upon application for welfare I was shocked to discover the program had every right to deduct any and all child support 100% every month we were on it. We had to live on 1160 a month because I was classed as barriers to full employment and included a special diabetic diet allowance of 40. I cut my bills right down to the bare minimum and still was paying about 1000 a month so how do you take care of your child? We did get to keep child tax it was 350 I believe at the time. This hardly covered food and forget necessities such as new shoes and clothes, thank goodness for thrift stores. Luckily we found a room-mate who stayed for free as long as they purchased groceries, which was ok to do as I inquired about this first with the program however my room-mate could not give us cash to purchase our own groceries as we had to claim the monies and were only allowed only to keep up to $900 a year in cash gifts. If we hadn’t of found our wonderful roommate there is no way we would have survived. I started digging into how a Provincial govt in 2015 at the time could do this to their most vulnerable persons. I found out a lot and am floored that this is still going on in Canada in 2017. First of all this breaches a 2013 children's charter that is legislated in my province which demands all govt programs stop taking advantage of children. How can this claw back be legal, and how can the welfare program be the only govt program to not adhere to that legislation? I wrote the Premier and received an incredible reply. Children of patrons on welfare basically have to pay for their own benefits for the duration their parent is on the program. Really? So how come Sally pays $500 a month and little Freddie over there is paying $300 a month for the same apple, and to their detriment. Not only that section 49 of the Family Law Act states both parents have an obligation to support their children. Now the program by clawing back that child support is messing with that legislated obligation. All other govt programs do not take child support from children.

Discovering all of this I filed a human rights complaint in September of 2015. I found 3 protected grounds of discrimination. The first being family status as if my child wasn’t related to me a patron of this program she could keep her child support. So she's also basically being taken advantage of due to my illness. Second being the source of income as if my child could work she could keep the earned income 100% but because it's income from court ordered child support she must surrender it 100%. I'd also like to point out children in this province are not allowed to work until age 12 so all children below 12 cant make up the garnished income. And the third being disability as if I met the criteria for Provincial disability program my daughter could keep her child support. So why does one disability program allow child support and the other one take it?

Two years later my complaint is still on the directors desk waiting to see if the grounds I'm claiming are valid. The Govt response so far has been that I and my daughter are being equally discriminated against compared to all other patrons on the welfare program therefore no human rights are being violated. Yes, really that's their defence.

I also found out some facts. In my province there are about 9800 single parents on welfare. If each child is receiving about $300 a month in child support the govt is taking in nearly 3 million a month out of the mouth of babes. Welfare patrons aren't lazy, from the single moms I met, they are going through breakups trying to get their lives together which is taking longer because they don't have the money to do it, people had to quit their jobs to take care of their disabled children, and some women are working but just don't earn enough and cant rely on their partners sporadic child support payments. Other people are injured and didn't have extra insurance so had to take welfare like me. 48% of welfare recipients in this province are disabled trying to be placed onto the better disability program which is ridiculously strict or it's a short term illness and they're trying to get well enough to go back to work. When father's or payors find out their money isn't going to their kids but to the govt like the extra tax that it is, they usually stop paying and are driven into the underground economy. This claw back was started in Alberta in 1993 as a deterrent for people using the welfare programs. The claw back was an idea initiated in 1600's Elizabethan England as a penalty payment for men who left their wives and children, which were now considered wards of the court. Every province in Canada picked this up and applied it to their welfare programs, all across the USA it was implemented as well. BC was challenged by a women's advocacy group and the welfare claw-back was ended there in September 2015. There is now a coalition of regular people in different provinces coming together in hopes to end this discriminatory practise across Canada.

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Author Commented myalisal over 4 years ago
Thank-you LegalAdvocate and timblades, there is no reply button here, so I can only hope you come back and read my reply. I started a FB page End Alberta's 100% Child Support Clawback and Ironically posted your article to my page timeblades. Yes that happened to me my ex stopped paying when he found out the support he was paying wasnt going to us, so theystarted garnisheeing him, he also refused to follow the court order to hand in his tax documents to the recalculation program every year and later sued me after I got off of welfare for the over payment he had made over the couple years i was on the system as the recalc program adds a 10% fee if you don't hand your documents in by the required date. He actually won in court so is now paying a modified child support payment to recoup his losses. Incredible and unbelievable and all thanks to the clawback. Yes this has got to stop. Thanks for advocating for change! Feel free to contact me on my page thanks.
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LegalAdvocate over 4 years ago
They stopped clawing back child support in Ontario in January of this year. This needs to stop - period. They also need to stop the earnings and assets of spouses from being deducted or affecting the payments of persons who are married to them, but who are defined as disabled.
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timblades over 4 years ago
I couldn't agree more. I would like to add some people are of the opinion that policies like this encourage A). non-custodial parents to not make payments or B). non-custodial parents to make payments "under the table". I feel (and probably many more agree) that the "child support" really becomes an unfair, unreasonable tax. In the interest of transparency, I am not a parent, but I am the author of this article. I came to this forum to share some of the info from my article, and I found your post. Thank you for sharing your story. I am from Nova Scotia, and not only does our variation of the same clawback policy put people in financial distress, it can put people (most likely women) in danger.
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