Medicine Hat News
October 03, 2008
Parents and ex-spouses who are late with their support payments will have to dig a bit deeper in their pockets as the province is announcing a 4.25 per cent interest charge on those in arrears.
According to Alberta Justice, the charge is designed to encourage people to meet heir financial obligations through the Province’s Maintenance Enforcement Program.
“It’s important for debtors to pay their maintenance on time and in accordance with the terms of their support agreements,” said Justice Minister Alison Redford in a news release.
“Many families suffer if they don’t receive their maintenance on time and this is another step towards ensuring the children of Albertan are getting their court ordered support.”
But men’s support groups in the province are angry at the announcement, saying it amounts to gouging already financially taxed individuals.
Gus Sleiman, president of the Calgary-based Men’s Educational Support Organization, said 85 per cent of support payments are made by men with those falling behind in payments only doing so to lack of funds.
“We have the highest rate of compliance in the country for paying child support but obviously neither the Governments of Alberta or Canada want to stop the attack on fathers until they drive them to suicide,” he said.
“After the divorce process they have exhausted all the resources they have so this is a campaign to denigrate fathers all the way along and saying if you are late-for whatever reason- we are going to charge you interest.”
However, Jill McKenzie, spokesperson with Alberta Justice, said there are options for those late with payments.
“The Maintenance Enforcement Program wants to work with these men to be able to make payments and not have to charge interest. To avoid paying interest, debtors are invited to contact MEP to work out alternative payment arrangement.”
Though the rate of interest can’t be changed, McKenzie said MEP can change the times they do make those payments.
MEP currently manages 50,000 files per month affecting over 165,000 Alberta men, women and children.