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Standard reporter - Sept 30, 2004

Response to Maintenance Enforcement measures

Sharon McLeay

Strathmore Standard — Gus Sleeman, an advocate for the Men’s Educational Support Association (MESA) disagrees with the purpose of many of Maintenance enforcement collection policies and the new initiatives mailed to participants this month are no exception.

“By looking at these documents, it appears that the government is manipulating the statistics to indicate that these people are not paying child support. When we looked into it carefully, only one percent of the parents weren’t paying. A letter like this is a way to show that Maintenance enforcement is doing a really good job, but we have other documents that show that fathers are really good fathers and that they are paying their support,” Sleeman said.

“With the exception of about one percent, which is a difference from the 80 per cent that MEP shows is being paid. These new measures will not change the attitude of those parents or the way they pay, or who they are.”

“These extra charges then become an excessive and added cost for those parents who do pay, to punish them because they are non-custodial parents.”

“Money is being taken away from the custodial parents when they are recovering interest money for administrative costs. So, they are taking money from these parents to finance a government project that was not needed in the first place. The system was based on transfer of wealth from one parent to the other on behalf of the children, not to pay for government bureaucracy.”

“In most of the cases custody goes to the mother of the child. The mother goes on welfare and the government has taken the role of a protector and a provider, as a replacement for the father, which is something the government, should not be going into in the first place,” said Sleeman.

“To justify and enhance their existence (MEP), they have to create a monster out there to remain in business,” said Sleeman.

He considers the new initiatives may intensify existing problems for the couples.

“Debts incurred through relationship breakups can get so out of control, that individuals lose hope of ever paying the debt or re-establishing a normal lifestyle,” Sleeman said.

He emphasizes there are more issues at stake than bottom line money recovery. The issues of child custody and money not being used for children’s care have not been addressed, and yet the financial aspects become entangled with other issues.