Report on Federal-Provincial-Territorial Consultations on Custody, Access and Child Support in Canada



The consultation on custody, access and child support took place in Quebec in the spring of 2001 under the auspices of the Quebec Ministry of Justice. It involved focus groups run by Léger Marketing and documents prepared by experts hired by the ministry. Afterwards, many agencies and institutions working in family law were brought together for a conference. The consultation's main topics for discussion were:

Custody, Access and Child Support: Putting the Children's Interests First was held at the Hôtel Québec de Sainte-Foy in Quebec City, June 8, 2001. The session lasted the entire day, and comprised three workshops and two plenary sessions. Prior to the conference, participants received documentation prepared by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Family Law Committee, as well as the Guide de discussion pour le Québec prepared by experts under contract to the Ministry of Justice.

Dominique Goubau acted as conference coordinator and led Workshop A on the roles and responsibilities of parents. Sylvie Matteau led Workshop B on meeting access responsibilities. Jean-Marie Fortin led Workshop C on the issue of child support.

The conference began with Mr. Goubau's opening remarks, which put the day's work within the perspective of the federal-provincial-territorial consultation. In a plenary session at the end of the day, the three workshop leaders reported on the topics discussed.

This report attempts to respect the plan established by IER Planning, Research and Management Services, under contract to the Department of Justice Canada. However, all the questions in the plan were not necessarily dealt with during the sessions, and some questions that were not part of the plan were nevertheless discussed. As well, the workshop leaders used the Quebec discussion guide (April 2001), which adapts the Family Law Committee's consultation document as a working paper to better reflect the legal and social realities in Quebec. This explains why this report does not necessarily respect IER's plan to the letter. It should be emphasized, however, that the bulk of the questions dealt with in the IER plan are also found in the Quebec discussion guide. Consequently, the workshops were able to respond to the most important concerns raised in the IER plan.

Participants were invited to send in a memorandum or written remarks to the conference organizers, and several did. The final date for submissions was June 15, 2001. This report presents a review of the discussions that took place on June 8 and adds certain information contained in the submissions. It also links the main results from the conference with those from the focus groups and follows the conference's division of the discussion topics.