Globe and Mail June 27, 2018
by Paulette MacDonald, Child and Family Advocate
Separating families at the border or in Canada’s family courts isn’t just immoral — its consequences are dreadful for children’s health. Canada’s family law system continuously separates children from at least one of their parents: one “custodial parent” and one “non-custodial parent” or “every other weekend visitor.”
From the 1998 Canadian Senate special joint committee on child custody and access recommendations, to the present, numerous reports and statements concerning family law as it relates to contested custody cases have recognized the need for fundamental reform. Yet nothing changes.
The family rights movement in Canada has long advocated for real change in our broken child custody system. In 2014, Bill C-560 was voted down at second reading in Parliament, even though the then ruling Conservative party officially supported equal shared parenting. Now, the majority Liberal government has introduced Bill C-78. It is an admirable first step, but it is not enough.
Bill C-78 fails to give sufficient credence to the views of the majority of Canadians who support equal shared parenting under child custody law. The government apparently refuses to adopt the social science consensus that supports shared parenting as the starting point for the best interests of the child.
It’s time for the government to be a voice for Canadian children and their families, to give children access to both their mom and dad and give fit parents equal rights to their children. It’s time for a presumption of equal, shared parenting. Amend Bill C-78 to reflect the best interests of the child.