Here’s something which should have seen the glare of the media spotlight sooner: Right now in British Columbia, if you are on income assistance, your monthly income will be reduced dollar for dollar by anything you receive as child support or child maintenance.
As a Vancouver family lawyer, I am confused as to how the government can justify this. Child support or child maintenance is payable by a parent who does not care primarily for the children, for the benefit of those children. Conceptually, the money belongs to the kids, not to the recipient parent. Social assistance is the benefit of the recipient family. The Ministry of Social Development website showed that since 2007, of the $946.00 paid to a single parent of one child, $610.00 of that is for the adult and the remaining $336.00 is for the child (ie. the difference between a single adult rate and a single adult with child rate). So where is the justification for the reduction?
UPDATE: Claw back ended.
Any Vancouver family lawyer can tell you that a child is owed support by both parents. The parent with the primary responsibility for the child pays that support out of his or her income. In the case of income assistance, the government properly calculates that parent’s responsibility into the rate paid. That has nothing to do with the other parent’s responsibility. By reducing income assistance dollar for dollar based on child support or child maintenance, the government is profiting off of the backs of the poorest children in the province. As a Vancouver family lawyer, I believe this is wrong and, frankly, shameful.
The solution? Very simple and finally being proposed in government circles: stop the practice. Yes, it will cost the province the $17 million or so that they are currently plundering from the children, but, if anyone needs a financial argument, that amount should easily be made up through the increased health and welfare of those children. Really though, this is not about a financial argument. It is about the rights of those children and those rights must be protected.