An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act

Sponsor

Status

Second reading (House), as of May 22, 2018

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Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Divorce Act to, among other things,

(a) replace terminology related to custody and access with terminology related to parenting;

(b) establish a non-exhaustive list of criteria with respect to the best interests of the child;

(c) create duties for parties and legal advisers to encourage the use of family dispute resolution processes;

(d) introduce measures to assist the courts in addressing family violence;

(e) establish a framework for the relocation of a child; and

(f) simplify certain processes, including those related to family support obligations.

The enactment also amends the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act to, among other things,

(a) allow the release of information to help obtain and vary a support provision;

(b) expand the release of information to other provincial family justice government entities;

(c) permit the garnishment of federal moneys to recover certain expenses related to family law; and

(d) extend the binding period of a garnishee summons.

The enactment also amends those two Acts to implement

(a) the Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children, concluded at The Hague on October 19,1996; and

(b) the Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance, concluded at The Hague on November 23,2007.

The enactment also amends the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act to, among other things,

(a) give priority to family support obligations; and

(b) simplify the processes under the Act.

Finally, this enactment also includes transitional provisions and makes consequential amendments to the Criminal Code.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

June 5th, 2018 / 4:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Minister, I agree with you that in implementing the unified family courts along with the implementation of Bill C-78, which is currently before Parliament, this will have a big effect on the efficiencies in the family law system in Canada. With Bill C-78 it's the first time in over 20 years there's been a major overhaul and update in our divorce laws. That will really help a lot of families in Canada who are going through those challenging circumstances.

I want to turn now to Bill C-46, which was touched on earlier, and the provision in the bill dealing with mandatory alcohol screening. Our committee studied Bill C-46, and one of the things stated over and over again to our committee was that to reduce the incidence of impaired driving, there needs to be a fear of getting caught. That's really what will be important in reducing the incidence of people being impaired on our roads.

We've heard that mandatory alcohol screening in other jurisdictions has worked. I know that there has been some discussion about whether it's constitutional, but there are constitutional experts who have weighed in who believe that the provision is justified under the charter. The main reason for this is that it is of compelling public interest to reduce the harm of impaired driving on our roads.

I know that this bill is currently in the other place. It's before the Senate right now. The House of Commons has already passed that. What do you say about the importance of getting Bill C-46 passed by both houses of Parliament and into law, along with the provision of mandatory alcohol screening, to reduce the incidence of drinking and driving on our roads and impaired driving overall?

June 5th, 2018 / 4 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Again, we were very pleased to see the support for unified family courts in budget 2018. We're working toward ensuring that we can meet the needs and identify the judges, the 39 judicial appointments that were in the budget, in the four provinces that expressed a very real desire to expand their programs or to actually set up programs, as I said earlier, in Alberta, in Ontario, in Nova Scotia, and in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In terms of family law and access to justice in family law, the unified family courts, as you know, having practised in Nova Scotia, will create a space where individuals can go. We'll have within those unified family courts the ability of the so-called one-stop shop. We'll have specialized judges in family law in those courts. We'll have simplified procedures within those courts. We'll also have community programs and support services to assist individuals who are going through this. For most people, the only time they interact with the justice system is in family law. We want to ensure that we do everything we can to assist those individuals in gaining the necessary access to justice in a timely way and as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

When we were going through all of our discussions and consultations with the provinces and with individuals, there was clearly a desire to ensure that in concert with unified family courts we're taking the necessary steps in terms of the reforms we've proposed in Bill C-78 around the Divorce Act and around two other pieces of federal legislation to also contribute to improving the family law situation in the country.

June 5th, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you as usual to the members of the committee. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to be here before you to give some brief remarks, and then I will look to answer some questions.

As you indicated, I'm joined by Nathalie Drouin, deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney general of Canada; Johanne Bernard, assistant deputy minister, management sector, and chief financial officer; and Carole Morency. Joining us as well are François Daigle, associate deputy minister; and Elizabeth Hendy, director general, programs branch. I'm also joined by representatives of a number of the independent agencies and organizations that fall within my portfolio.

I would like to discuss how the Department of Justice intends to use the funds granted through the 2018-19 main estimates to promote and maintain a fair, transparent, and accessible justice system while providing high-quality legal services to the federal government. These include a wide range of legal advisory litigation and legislative services to government departments and agencies.

The Department of Justice has a total budgetary authority of $697.75 million through the 2018-19 main estimates, an increase of $42 million from the previous fiscal year. This additional funding is for major priorities, including federal support to the family justice system, immigration and refugee legal aid, and the indigenous justice program, among others.

Much of this year's authority will support the stewardship of the Canadian legal framework by directing funding to the provinces and territories with whom we share responsibility to administer justice.

The funding will help maintain and support a bilingual and bijural national legal framework. Funding through the main estimates will also support the department's ability to transform and modernize the justice system in keeping with the values of Canadians while protecting and maintaining the rights enshrined in the Constitution and in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Our review of the criminal justice system is ongoing. It is intended to ensure that our criminal laws protect Canadians, hold offenders to account, meet the highest standards of fairness and equity, respect the charter, and demonstrate the utmost compassion to victims. These efforts will help strengthen public confidence in the justice system and judicial institutions. Our review, along with results of other consultations and government priorities, is already informing initiatives and reforms that we are introducing to modernize the criminal justice system.

In March, I introduced Bill C-75 to help reduce court delays and to address the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples and vulnerable populations as both victims and accused in the criminal justice system. We anticipate the bill will come to this committee shortly.

In Bill C-75 we are proposing amendments to the bail regime and to how breaches of administration of justice offences are handled. In particular, these changes will help eliminate the unnecessary detention of individuals pending trial, will help eliminate unnecessary bail conditions, and will ensure that fewer people are needlessly charged and convicted of minor administrative offences that do not impact public safety.

These measures will have a particularly positive impact on indigenous and marginalized Canadians who are disproportionately represented in our remand population, and who are disproportionately charged and convicted of administration of justice offences.

We are encouraging the selection of juries that better reflect the diversity of our communities, and we are bringing in stronger measures to address the problem of intimate partner violence. We are also proposing measures that will avoid re-traumatizing victims by reducing the number of inquiries and issues for which they have to testify.

In addition, Bill C-75 will reclassify many offences in the Criminal Code to give our prosecutors the discretion they need to choose the most efficient and appropriate procedure.

Our government has also launched measures to better support indigenous people and vulnerable persons as they navigate the criminal justice system. We continue to fund the indigenous court work program with $9.5 million annually. Integrating indigenous culture, language, and traditions, these court workers provide direct services before, during, and after court. They also provide courts with crucial information to guide sentencing and bail decisions while connecting victims, witnesses, and family members to culturally safe assistance. In 2016-17, over 75,000 indigenous men, women, and young people in over 435 communities received these services.

We have stabilized funding to the indigenous justice program, with over $11 million per year ongoing, to increase the use of restorative justice and reduce the rate of indigenous incarceration.

Since 2015-16, we have continually increased our funding to the department's legal aid program to fund provincial and territorial criminal legal aid programs. This helps economically disadvantaged persons at risk of incarceration, and youth facing prosecution under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The department's youth justice fund supports projects with alternatives to incarceration, and encourages a more effective youth justice system. That includes just over $6.5 million towards 16 multi-year projects that focus on culturally relevant programming for indigenous youth in the criminal justice system.

We have also increased funding to immigration and refugee legal aid by over $14 million, with an additional $3 million in contribution funding for legal aid systems and access to justice services.

Mr. Chair, our government is committed to ensuring that victims of sexual assault and gender-based violence are treated with the utmost respect and dignity. The Department of Justice victims fund provides $27.4 million in grants and contributions, supporting 476 projects across Canada. This funding supports research, innovative pilot projects, and front-line services for victims and survivors of crime across Canada.

In 2017-18, more than 100 victims of human trafficking received case management and related services, and more than 450 women and girls at risk received information about services and assistance.

In budget 2017, our government introduced its gender-based violence strategy and over $100 million over five years. Budget 2018 contributed an additional $86 million over five years, and $20 million annually thereafter, to expand on the strategy, with my department as a key contributor.

Budget 2018 proposed $50.4 million over five years to address sexual harassment in the workplace, $25.4 million for boosting legal support funding across the country to support legal action by victims, and $25 million for outreach.

We have continued our efforts to promote and maintain a more diverse judiciary. Since 2015, I have made 179 appointments and elevations. Of these appointees, over half are women, eight are indigenous, 15 are visible minorities, 11 identify as LGBTQ2, and three are persons with a disability. We continue to fund the necessary training for a more culturally sensitive and responsive bench, as well.

Finally, last month I introduced Bill C-78, the first changes to the Divorce Act in more than 20 years. The proposed reforms will ensure that our family law system is focused on the best interest of the child, better supports the safety and well-being of individuals and families, and is more efficient.

Our commitment to improving family justice includes budget 2018 funding of $77.2 million over four years and a further $20.8 million ongoing to expand the unified family courts across the country. This measure will create 39 new judicial positions across a number of provinces, while enhancing access to justice and improving outcomes for families and individuals.

Again, Mr. Chair, I would certainly like to thank the members of this committee for their ongoing work, and I look forward to our discussions today.

JusticeOral Questions

May 22nd, 2018 / 2:45 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this morning I was pleased to introduce Bill C-78 and the accompanying charter statement.

We know that separation and divorce impact the lives of millions of Canadians and can be challenging for families, particularly for children. That is why Bill C-78 focuses on the best interests of the child first, reducing conflict, addressing family violence, and encouraging parents and former spouses to meet their family support obligations.

JusticeOral Questions

May 22nd, 2018 / 2:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, more Canadians are touched by family law than any other area of law.

Thanks to data from the 2015 census, we know that as many as two million Canadian children live in separated or divorced families, yet family laws in Canada have not been substantively amended for over 20 years.

Can the Minister of Justice please explain how Bill C-78 will strengthen and modernize the family justice system in Canada?

Divorce ActRoutine Proceedings

May 22nd, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal