C-41 and its impact on single custodial fathers
- Number of male lone parents in 1991: 170,000 --22% of single families
(Vanier Institute of the Family, Transitions, March 1994, based on Statistics Canada data).
Number of single fathers receiving child support: 6,760.
(1992, Revenue Canada, Statistics Division), about 4%.
Thus, support non-payment by mothers may be as high as 96% A study of single
fathers and reasons for non-payment of support is urgently needed.
- Percentage of single custodial fathers with a support order: 30%.
(Ross Finnie report January, 1995 to Justice Canada based on Statistics Canada records of
all available actual court judgments from 1991).
Thus, judges are over three times as likely to refuse a single father a support order.
- Amount of support paid by women in 1991: $22,126,000 Amount of support paid by
women in 1992: $18,314,000 Percentage decrease in support to single custodial
fathers from 1991 to 1992: 17.2%.
(Revenue Canada Statistics Division)
This huge drop may represent negative effects of biased and counter-productive
- Number of Male Single parents in 1986 in Canada: 153,000.
According to Newsweek, single father families are the fastest growing family type by
percent in North America.
- Total support paid by women to single fathers in 1992: $18,314,000 or about 1% of
(Revenue Canada, Statistics Division).
With 170,000 lone parent families headed by men, the average single father gets only
$100 per year or about 6 or 7 dollars per month per child. ($18
There is no mechanism for ensuring that single custodial fathers get equal proportion
of orders, amounts of judgments, collection or payments under C-41.
- Number of single fathers eligible for equivalent to married tax deduction: 78,000.
(1995, HRD Canada).
Male custodial parents are ineligible for tax exemptions probably because they are
paying support. Thus up to 92,000 separated custodial fathers pay support in addition
to being the primary care-giving parent. (We have yet to find a case of women having
to face this double disadvantage).
These families and their children would be further impoverished by higher taxes on the
support payments called for by C-41. No study of the impact of C-41 on single
custodial fathers and their children has been done.
- Provinces are currently not providing gender breakdown of support judgments and
support paid. No funds are provided under C-41 to ensure provinces even make a
gender breakdown, never mind to monitor the gender bias in support orders and
- Single fathers report sexist divorce courts are unwilling to require mothers to pay
current amounts, never mind the onerous amounts required under the C-41 plan,
therefore separated fathers may encounter more difficulty in getting a fair custody
- C-41's high child support and taxation liabilities will lead to use of desperate,
adversarial tactics to gain custody.
Result: large legal fees and enormous court costs, poverty for children, bitterness for
custodial and non-custodial parent. Already the largest number of family court actions
in Ontario are parents seeking access (Marilyn Bongard, Justice Canada).
And in Quebec, 86% of Quebec's Superior Court time is spent on divorce, access,
custody, and support (mostly violations of court ordered access. (Source: Riccardo di
Done, Organization for the Protection of Children's Rights, Montreal).
- Amount of money spent by three levels of government on single mothers yearly:
(Caledon Institute of Social Policy, Ottawa)
Amount of money spent on single fathers: not available, but HRD reports that about
1.5% of parental leave, GST child tax credits are paid to fathers. Note that the
average GST tax credit for single mothers is about 40% higher than intact families
while single fathers get less, on average, than intact families.
- Lloyd Axworthy's 1994 Social Policy Review showed that fewer single father families
were in poverty now compared to ten years ago, although income by men after
inflation and taxes decreased over that period, while comparable women's income
Poverty in children of single mothers increased during that period, in spite of large
increases in child support, government assistance and employment for women. Thus
single fathers have been more successful in keeping children from poverty than we
would expect and single mothers less successful than we should expect. A child of a
single custodial mother is five times more likely to be in poverty than a child of a
- Percentage of sole custody decisions awarded to mothers: 75%. Percentage to
fathers: 12% -- balance is shared parenting.
(Source: Thibaudeau case, Federal and Supreme Courts, same figures used by Canadian
government in report to UN on International Year of the Family)
Thus judges are over six times more likely to discriminate against single fathers in
- While only 12 % of fathers get custody in court, the actual percentage of single fathers
(22%) indicates that large number of fathers end up as primary care-giver as children
get older, or as the custodial mother encounters difficulties she cannot handle. These
arrangements are not taken into consideration by the inflexible assumptions of Bill
C-41 or by current tax policy.
- Canada's Income Tax Act assumes that the tax credit will be the mother, even when
the father has shared custody. If the father has sole custody, the Income Tax Act
requires that the tax credit will be paid to his second wife, even though she is not a
custodial parent. (Income Tax Act).
This gender discrimination disadvantages children and leads to higher child poverty.
- Number of publications at National Library of Canada on Single Fathers = 1.
Number of Canadian publications on single fathers = 0.
Conclusion: no research on this family group.
- Number of Federal parenting programmes targeted to fathers = 0.
- Assistance to Fathers' organizations to train and support fathers = 0,
(as reported by Health Canada)
- Number of Ontario parenting programmes targeted to fathers = 0.
(Ont. Ministry of Community & Social Services)
- Number of women-only parenting programmes subsidized by Trillium Ontario
Lottery money = 31.
Number of Trillium-assisted parenting programmes open to men = 0.
- Statistics Canada is doing less research on divorce, and none on its effects on men. A
study on parental health and effects on children will be done on mothers only.
- The overwhelming fact that the government's parenting assistance directed to or
reserved for women only means that father-custody and joint custody are not on a
level playing field with sole mother custody.
Although a father may be equal or better as a parent, and data on single custodial
fathers show they are, judges prefer sole mother custody since the child can benefit
from government assistance available to women only.
C-41 is anti-single father and part of a pattern of biased
discrimination against their children. Further study is needed
before implementing this legislation.
Report prepared by
Single Fathers' Network and FatherCraft Canada,
73 Eccles Street, Ottawa K1R 6S5
Tel: (613) 238-3208 Fax: (613)238-3491