Child Support Initiative:
Research Framework


Statistics Canada Databases and Surveys

Maintenance Enforcement Survey (MES)

The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics is developing this annual survey of the maintenance enforcement program in each province and territory. Results will describe the caseloads registered in maintenance enforcement program systems, including the number of cases, their characteristics, the extent of default and compliance, the amount of arrears and the types of enforcement actions taken. Phased implementation with the provincial and territorial enforcement programs began in the autumn of 1996.

Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings(CRDP)

Superior Court data on divorce applications are collected manually and sent to the Department of Justice Canada to ensure there are no duplicate applications for divorce. The Department enters the information from the forms into a database, which is then sent to the Health Division of Statistics Canada for editing and publication of annual divorce statistics. The statistics report has the number of finalized divorces in the previous calendar year. Data include dates of marriage and divorce, custody arrangements, and the number of children of the marriage and their dates of birth. However, there have been some quality problems with data relating to type of custody due to the lack of a precise definition of "joint custody."

Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF)

This is an annual telephone survey of 10,000 households. Although information on alimony (child and spousal support) is collected, it is not always possible to determine whether the payments are for child support, spousal support or both. This survey does provide socio-demographic information on persons who receive support (e.g., age, marital status, occupation, education, and other sources and levels of income) that is not available through the tax statistics databases described later in this annex.

Survey of Labour Income Dynamics (SLID)

The content of this longitudinal survey of households is similar to that of the SCF, except that the same households are surveyed every two years under SLID. Alimony (child and spousal support) is identified as one of the sources of income, although as with the SCF, it is not always possible to determine whether the payments are for child support, spousal support or both.

The survey started in 1994, and the first-cycle results have now been published. It will be possible to examine changes in levels of support received over time and to monitor other changes, such as the socio-demographic characteristics of the population that receives support.

National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY)

In the first cycle of this survey, information was collected on 25,000 children under the age of 11. These data were first collected in late 1994. The section on family and custody history contains information on custody and access to children by parents, including some information specifically requested by the Department of Justice Canada.

With the exception of the family and custody history section, all other data collected from the 1993/1994 first cycle were released in the fall of 1997.

The same families will be surveyed every two years, with additional children from birth to one year old added with each cycle. Data for the second cycle were collected in late 1996. Due to budget constraints, the sample size was reduced to 17,000.

General Social Survey, 1995 (GSS)

The General Social Survey is conducted annually, and has a sample size of 10,000 respondents. Survey topics recur in five-year cycles. The 1990 and 1995 surveys dealt with relationships between respondents and their family and friends. Some questions in this survey deal with custody, access and financial support from absent parents. These data will be useful in determining current custody and access arrangements.

Longitudinal Administrative Database (LAD)

Statistics Canada creates the LAD from each year's income tax return data, which Revenue Canada provides with a twenty-month delay.

Using each year's data, Statistics Canada creates a family file (T1FF) by matching respondents within the file based on SIN and addresses, and adding other information contained on each return (such as number of children, determined from those claimed). A 10 percent sample is drawn from the family files and linked to the returns filed by the same individuals in subsequent years. This longitudinal file contains such information as the number of payers and recipients of "alimony," the number of children and the amounts of payments.

The LAD file is now 14 years "long," dating from 1982 to 1995. Since this data set allows for statistical "matching" of payers and recipients, it permits an analysis of the levels of support that separated people claim they have paid or received over time. Unfortunately, the usefulness of this file regarding child support payments will decline over time as greater numbers of payers and recipients of child support fall under the "no inclusion - no deduction" tax policy.

Family Expenditure Survey (FAMEX)

This survey provides expenditures by households, as well as their budgets for the year, including all expenditures, income, and changes in assets and debts. Topics include composition of household, characteristics of dwellings and expenditures on the following: shelter, furnishings and equipment, running the home, food and alcohol, clothing, medical and health care, travel and transportation, recreation and education, tobacco and miscellaneous expenses.

Revenue Canada Databases

Tax Statistics

Through its Statistics Division, Revenue Canada publishes basic statistical tax data, such as the number of returns, the total number of persons reporting various income items and deductions (such as alimony, which includes child support and spousal support), and the total amounts reported in those categories. As well, these items may be broken down further by the total incomes of individuals.

Due to the changes in the tax treatment of child support, Revenue Canada will have less and less information on payers and recipients of child support as the Child Support Initiative progresses. It will, however, collect forms from separating couples who elect to change the tax treatment (but not the amount) of their child support orders.

Revenue Canada will also continue to collect information on both spousal support orders and spousal and child support orders from those who opt to continue making and receiving their payments under the old deduction/inclusion tax regime. These Revenue Canada statistics will help us determine the number of variations of pre-implementation orders and help us understand the proportion, in numbers and amounts, of spousal support awards, as compared to spousal and child support awards.

Legal Research Services

Several legal research services publish reported cases and provide commentary on case law and issues related to particular legislation. Two electronic services-Quicklaw and the Quebec version, SOQUIJ-report cases on-line. Both sources are research tools, particularly for case law reviews. Carswell Publishing publishes reported court decisions on divorce and separation, including cases involving child support. All summaries report incomes and custody arrangements, and the number and age of children, and provide some commentary on the history or background of the case.