Hunting down deadbeats

When it comes to cracking down on deadbeat parents, if it’s good enough for Alberta, it’s apparently good enough for Saskatchewan.

When it comes to cracking down on deadbeat parents, if it’s good enough for Alberta, it’s apparently good enough for Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan government says it’s planning to deny hunting and fishing licences to those who don’t pay promised child and spousal support. The move will emulate a measure already in place in Alberta.

Saskatchewan’s Justice Minister Gordon Wyant introduced legislation recently to amend the Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act.

“These amendments will provide another tool to ensure that individuals who owe child support or spousal support will meet their obligations,” Wyant said in a news release. “These options will only be used after several notices and warnings have been given.”

He said the measure will be used as a last resort, when other efforts to enforce payment such as wage and federal benefit garnishees, driver’s licence and passport suspensions fail.

Does this really make sense?

In Alberta and Saskatchewan, hunting and fishing are prominent outdoor pursuits, but they also can be a means of support.

Denying parents access to food, or even potential income, runs in the face of a support payment crackdown. Do you want deadbeat parents paying family members their supports or heading to a food bank for a meal?

Saskatchewan has one of the highest collection rates for overdue payments in Canada. In the last fiscal year, the province was forced to take action in collecting more than 91 per cent of payments from delinquent spouses, almost $40 million worth.

Various provinces have initiated creative measures in tracking down and cracking down on deadbeat parents, who at times seem to disappear off the face of this planet.

The Ontario government is displaying “most-wanted style mug shots” of deadbeat dads on its Good Parents Pay website.

British Columbia, like many provinces, goes after wages, bank accounts and other income sources. The province also has powers to seize money from EI payments and tax rebates, place liens on property, withhold drivers’ licences, passports and other federal licences.

In Alberta, besides banning hunting and licences to deadbeat parents, this province is going to the courts to seize assets a deadbeat spouse may try to hide by keeping them in a company name.

In the Northwest Territories, slackers are reminded that their responsibilities aren’t void if they leave the region. The maintenance program “has reciprocal agreements will all Canadian provinces and territories, all American states, and some foreign countries.”

In Nova Scotia, the provincial government can seize lottery winnings, inheritances, insurance settlements, in addition to suspending licences and permits issued under the Wildlife Act.

And in the Yukon, authorities aren’t messing around. Its enforcement program can jail the deadbeats. And “time served is a penalty; it does not reduce the amount of support owed,” says that government.

This recent snowfall in Alberta and Saskatchewan is ideal for tracking big game. With the new maintenance laws, hunting season is also ideal for tracking deadbeat parents. But it seems unlikely the measure will reward the victims of deadbeat parents.

Rick Zemanek is a former Advocate editor.

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