Impact of Adding Revenue Canada Databases Under FOAEA—Part 1 Tracing For Locating Persons
Final Report



2.1   General Legislative and Policy Background

Under the Canadian legal system, the enforcement of family orders (custody, access rights and support) is a provincial responsibility. Until 1986, no federal provisions existed to help trace missing persons or those who had breached maintenance agreements. With the passage of The Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance (FOAEA) Act (January 1986), the federal government established the legislative framework for providing a tracing information service to assist in the enforcement of family orders, agreements and Criminal Code charges.

The primary objective of the FOAEA Act is to assist provinces in improving the rate of enforcement of maintenance orders and agreements in Canada.

Federal/provincial/territorial agreements are essential to the implementation of the Act. Memorandums of Understanding set the terms and conditions for release of data from federal information banks, designate retrieval sources and recipients, and delineate confidentiality provisions.

2.2   Federal Enforcement Initiative

The federal enforcement initiative is based primarily on two pieces of legislation:[4]

  1. Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act:

    1. provides for the release of information from designated federal information banks to help locate persons who have breached family maintenance orders or spousal agreements.

    2. provides for the garnishment of specific federal monies in order to pay support orders and agreements in arrears.

    3. provides provincial and territorial services with the option of denying or suspending specific federally-issued licenses, including aviation and marine licenses and passports.

  2. Garnishment Attachment and Pension Diversion Act

    1. involves the location and diversion of funds payable to the defaulter by the federal government (garnishment of salaries and diversion of benefits of federal public servants).

    2. involves the diversion of pension benefits payable pursuant to the Superannuation Acts to satisfy financial support orders.

2.3   Tracing: Addition of Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Databases

Prior to 1997, only databases at Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) were listed and being searched under the tracing component of the FOAEA Act (Part 1). In 1994, it was learned that the databases at HRDC were using Revenue Canada[5] databases for updating. Further, an informal testing of responses from HRDC demonstrated that the Revenue Canada databases contained location information that was not in the HRDC databases and that the updating by HRDC from Revenue Canada databases was incomplete.

On March 6, 1996, the federal government, in a set of policy initiatives relating to child support, announced that it would enhance the capacity of the federal enforcement system by adding Revenue Canada databases to the federal databases eligible for tracing payors in arrears.

The Revenue Canada databases were added to the FOAEA Act (Part 1) and were included as part of the amendments contained in Bill C-41 that came into effect on May 1, 1997.

2.4   Monitoring and Evaluation of Federal Enforcement Initiatives

This project is one of a number of projects completed by the Research Unit of the Child Support Team at the Department of Justice Canada. These projects were part of the Department's mandate to report to Parliament on the implementation of the Federal Child Support Guidelines and enhancement of federal enforcement measures.

2.5   Site Selection

British Columbia was chosen as the site for this study because the province has developed and implemented a comprehensive provincial tracing system using a range of public and non-public (provincial databases) information sources with a clearly defined role for the FOAEA search function.

In addition, British Columbia has developed sophisticated systems for the handling and recording of recipient, debtor, tracing process and outcome data, allowing for relatively efficient and comprehensive case analyses.