Pallister Government Refuses to Support NDP Bill That Would Have Ensured The Best Interests of Children Were Paramount in Family Court Cases

Today, the Pallister government refused to support an NDP bill that would have put children first in court cases involving families in conflict.

“This bill would have given voice to the concerns of children in cases that deal with custody, access and support,” said NDP MLA Andrew Swan, who introduced the bill in the Legislative Assembly today. “It’s unfortunate that the government saw fit to vote against a bill that would have helped resolve disputes in family breakdowns and reduce stress on children.”

This bill would have:

  • Ensured that the rights of children are the primary concern of courts in cases when the parent’s relationship breaks down;
  • Modernized the Family Law Act to better reflect the diversity of modern families, including same-sex parents;
  • Clearly set out a process to be followed to obtain declaration of parentage from the courts, which recognizes cases of surrogacy;
  • Given step-parents, grandparents or others who have taken on a role in raising children the right to apply for custody of those children;
  • Given families a simpler, more timely and less costly way to deal with difficult issues when parents separate;
  • Strengthened provisions for collecting and enforcing child support; and
  • Clarified the process that governs relocation of parents and children.

“These are the most difficult cases that the courts take on and the rules aren’t always clear,” said Swan, the NDP justice critic. “This bill would have brought clarity and prevented many cases going to trial, which are always traumatic for children and parents.”

The government refused to allow the bill to come to a vote in the Legislative Assembly.