Single moms rally against child support clawbacks

VANCOUVER — A group of single mothers demonstrated against clawback of child support payment Tuesday outside the Ministry of Social Development office in downtown Vancouver.

The women, who are on income assistance, say their court-ordered spousal child support payments get clawed back each month by the provincial government.

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Tabitha Naismith stood outside 1050 West Pender with her 20-month-old daughter, Gabriella.

She said she receives a disability social assistance payment of $1,200 each month plus $100 a month from her child’s father in child support but instead of her income being $1,300, the government deducts that $100 from her benefits.

“When my daughter was born, income assistance made me sign a family maintenance enforcement order so they could go against Gabriella’s father for child support. And they told me if I didn’t sign the order they’d cut me off income assistance completely,” Naismith said.

“Now I have $100 taken off my cheque each month, which is a big impact because my daughter’s in diapers and I need wipes and things. They should end this clawback because the money isn’t intended for parents — it’s for children.”

The rally, attended by about 25 people including four single mothers who receive no financial benefit from court-ordered spousal support, was organized by the national social action group ACORN Canada.

Protesters waving placards demanded Premier Christy Clark’s Liberal government end the clawback.

Diane Terrillon, a protest spokeswoman, receives $207 a month in child support payments from her former spouse and it, too, is deducted from her $1,200 disability income assistance payment.

“A judge ordered my [former] spouse to pay $207 a month to my child and it is 100 per cent taken off him,” Terrillon said.

“I already feel bad enough that I can’t give my child everything he needs. It’s not right that the government takes what is rightfully my child’s.”

Terrillon said the government allows disabled individuals to earn up to $800 a month on top of their income assistance.

“But we are on disability for a reason and can’t work. So if we can make $800 a month why can’t my son have $200 a month when a judge says it’s his money?”

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