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CBC - CALGARY - Aug 31, 2004

"Men's group slams child-support plan"

http://calgary.cbc.ca/regional/servlet/View?filename=0831childsupportAug312004

EDMONTON - The head of a men's support group in Alberta says charging interest on late child-support payments is adding insult to injury.

In the fall of 2005 the province will add interest to payments not made on time. Part of the interest will go back to the government to pay the cost of chasing the debtors.

Alberta's justice minister says it's to encourage parents to pay on time. Min. Dave Hancock says only about 20 per cent of parents fail to meet the support orders, but he says that adds up to almost $300 million.

Hancock says most parents who fail to pay child support can afford it, but don't make the payments a priority. "People who have children have an obligation to the children, and that obligation to the children comes before any obligation to themselves. I may sound hard on that, but raising a family is an important responsibility."

Hancock says the announcement was made a year ahead of time to encourage people to get a payment-plan set up.

But Gus Sleiman of the Men's Education Support Association says parents don't pay because they can't afford it.

"Burdening them with interest and fees apparently on top of what they have to pay – I fail to understand, how could that help these children and help these parents survive and carry on with the best interests of their children?"

Sleiman says instead, the government should be working on programs to encourage shared parenting or equal access to the children.

Copyright CBC 2004