Report on taxation of child support

Glen Cheriton

For over a year I have been requesting to appear in front of the Finance committee of the House of Commons to speak about the data I have collected on the impact on fathers and non-custodial parents of the proposed changes in taxation of child support.

I first wrote to the head of the finance committee (at that time Jim Peterson) in March of 1996 upon hearing of the proposed change in Paul Martin's budget speech. I was unable to get a response, except that his office promised to contact me when hearings were taking place.

In writing to Finance Minister Paul Martin I requested that he meet with us or fathers' groups so that we could show the negative impact that his proposed changes would have on fathers and children and women, both as custodial and non-custodial parents. I have a letter from Mr. Martin rejecting my proposed meeting. He has met with women's groups each year. Indeed, in 1994 he promised radical women's groups that he would change the tax system to make it "better for women", prejudging the Thibaudeau Supreme Court Case. I requested to present to committee again in October 1996, when I learned that the tax changes were not in C-41.

The clerk of the committee asked that I find the number of the Bill. I called Finance Canada in December 1996 and they told me that the tax changes were in Bill C-69. C-69 apparently received first reading and vote on Dec. 8th.1996 They faxed me sections of the bill confirming that the tax changes on child support were in C-69. Again I wrote to the clerk of the Finance Committee asking for an opportunity to present to the committee on C-69, the legislation on child support.

I have asked Mac Harb, my MP, amongst other MPs for information on C-69 since January. Today, April 15, I learned that C-69 has apparently been abandoned, while the child support tax changes have been fast-tracked into C-92, introduced and voted on in the House April 9th (first reading), and today (April 15th). Finance Committee hearings ended on C-92, without, apparently hearing from any fathers or non-custodial parents.

Custodial mothers and women's groups were contacted and given an opportunity to be heard. The process for Bill C-69/C-92 appears to have systematically excluded fathers groups and non-custodial parents from consultation. It appears that the Finance committee has become a kind of "ex-parte" court in which only one side is allowed to present a case. Decisions become much easier if you only hear from one side.

How can a government which uses these tactics to sneak through legislation be trusted by taxpayers? I expect that the Liberals will try to do a very quick second and third reading and votes in the House very soon and perhaps use closure to ram this through before anyone realizes what has happened. Note that the Senate cannot defeat finance bills, so that means this would be a done deal.

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