Did you know that in Ontario a single parent on social assistance will have every dollar they receive in child support deducted from their social assistance? Under provincial legislation, child support payments made to single parents on Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) are clawed back by the provincial government. When a parent is on long term social assistance, a court order is made assigning payment of the child support to the Ministry.
But Eric Letts, an Ottawa-based family and human rights lawyer, seeks to change that. He is responsible for launching a class action lawsuit in Ontario seeking $1.9 billion on behalf of parents who have asked the provincial government to end the claw-back of child support payments. The application is brought against the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
Critics of the claw-back note that social assistance rates in Ontario are so low they force families to live in poverty. A single parent with two children receives a maximum of $1,217 per month on Ontario Works, and a maximum of $1801 on ODSP.
In the lawsuit, Mr. Letts claims that the claw-back violates the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The allegations in the class action include that the human rights (the dignity equality and security) of thousands of Ontarians were violated by the diversion of child support from parents and children to the Ministry.
Other jurisdictions have recognized the inherent unfairness of the child support claw-back and have taken steps to eliminate it. In British Columbia, as of September 1, 2015, child-support payments are now exempt from social assistance. Anti-poverty activists in Ontario have been calling on provincial government to allow single parents to keep their child support payments for a while now. Hopefully this new lawsuit will help spur the government to action.
For more information about child custody please contact Jason P. Howie, family lawyer, online or at 519.973.1500.