Opinion

COLUMN: Don’t claw back child support

Every child deserves the very best we can offer. In a province as wealthy as British Columbia, we can do so much more for our kids than 10 years of the highest child poverty in the country.

Much needs to be done, but one thing government could do right now is end the claw back of child support from children whose parents receive income assistance.

The Supreme Court of Canada is clear that child support is the right of the child. Children are entitled to a decent standard of living and to have their needs met.

This is the purpose of child support payments from one parent to another. At no point should child support ever be interpreted as a revenue stream for government.

And yet that is exactly what the BC Liberals have been doing for more than a decade.

Since 2002, the  Liberals have been clawing back child support payments dollar for dollar every month from children whose parents receive income assistance. Many of these parents are single moms with disabilities.

Single mothers, like Rachel Goodine, are raising their children on roughly $1,000 per month. That $1,000 is supposed to pay for rent, clothes, food and utilities.

But it doesn’t.

Rachel, like other moms in her shoes, struggles to feed her daughter.

Rachel’s little girl and so many others like her make up the 30 per cent of BC food bank clients who are children.

Several single mothers whose children are impacted by the child support claw back recently came to the legislature. They shared their stories and urged Premier Christy Clark to do the right thing, and stop taking money from their children.

You can imagine how disappointing it was for the mothers and their children to be dismissed by Clark when she refused to answer their call to end the claw back.

While the B.C. Liberals found $17 million to spend on partisan pre-election advertising last year, somehow Premier Clark and Social Development Minister Don McRae say they can’t afford to stop taking $17 million out of the hands of BC’s poorest kids.

It’s wrong, and it has to stop. No one wants to see children’s support payments go to BC Liberal government.

British Columbians don’t want to see our children go hungry, or wear shoes that are too small and worn out.

People want to see kids keep their child support to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy school lunches, and a warm winter coat.

Far from putting these families first, Premier Christy Clark is shutting the door of opportunity to children simply because their parents receive income supports.

In the Legislature, I have been asking her to stop this practice, and you can watch those questions at my YouTube channel.

The government needs to end the claw back immediately.

The benefits now and into the future most certainly exceed $17 million. But just as importantly, it is the right thing to do.

Be someone who stands up for BC’s poorest kids. Tell the premier and minster of social development that you want the child support clawback ended immediately.

Write to them at premier@gov.bc.ca and SDSI.minister@gov.bc.ca.

Tweet them at @ChristyClarkBC and @DonMcRaeMLA.

Together, we can build a better BC.

­—As a post script, I also want to let you know that my office has recently moved to the accessible location of 433 Josephine Street to better serve community members of all abilities.

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