Summary of Activities for
the Child-centred Family Justice Fund
Pilot Projects undertaken by the jurisdictions promote the development, implementation, and evaluation of innovative pilot projects serving families undergoing separation and/or divorce. These Projects are based on the same twelve principles developed for the Family Initiatives Component. Examples of Pilot Projects include:
- NEWFOUNDLAND and LABRADOR:
Family Justice Services Central is in Phase 2 of a pilot project and is focused on providing an integrated approach to providing family law legal aid services through the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution techniques such as negotiation and mediation, legal advice, general family law information, parent education programs, counselling and referral to other social services agencies as required. Phase 2 will build on lessons learned in Phase 1 and will test project enhancements identified and recommended in the Phase 1 project review. The Fund is partnering with the Department of Justice Canada's Legal Aid Pilot Project Initiative to fund Phase 2.
The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is also developing and implementing a pilot of a Web Application for the Support Enforcement Division in Corner Brook. This web application directly links to the new Support Enforcement Application (SEA) that was implemented in February 2004. The website allows both recipients and payors of child support to access their files to obtain enforcement and payment information, leave secure messages and print statements. The site also contains useful educational information on how the program works, enforcement actions, payor/recipient responsibilities, forms, as well as links to the Federal Child Support Guidelines and other applicable legislation. Employers are also able to access it to leave information and calculate garnishments. Other jurisdictions will also be given access to get updates on what is happening with a file.
- PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND:
The Office of the Attorney General in PEI has developed an interactive Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) website to increase information sharing between the MEP and its clients and between the MEP and other MEPs across Canada. In addition, a new intake enforcement officer position has been created in the MEP. The introduction of an intake enforcement officer has significantly streamlined calls through the office, reduced the time to respond to client calls, and increased the number of clients accessing an enforcement officer for the purpose of enforcement.
- NOVA SCOTIA:
The Family Division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia identified that families undergoing separation and/or divorce are experiencing an increasing delay in accessing court time when all opportunities for early non-adversarial dispute resolution mechanism have been exhausted. In its commitment to find alternate and expanded usage of pre-trial conferences, Nova Scotia has developed the concept of a File Readiness Court Officer as a form of assisted dispute resolution. The Officer will review, with the parties, issues such as witness lists, service requirements, requisite amount of court time and any number of other additional issues. Parties would, therefore, be more inclined to seriously consider settlement and would not proceed to court until they were properly prepared. This method of service delivery would ensure that court time is used as effectively as possible and is cost effective for the justice system. This project is still in development and planned implementation is for 2005/2006.
In July 2005, the Manitoba Department of Justice commenced operation of a Child Support Recalculation Service pilot project. The service initially supports recalculations of child support orders. The demand for recalculations will be assessed during the initial implementation phase and, if resources permit, the program will assist the court with original child support applications and variations. The pilot project provides a fast and inexpensive way for parents to have their child support orders updated regularly (recalculating) or varied in cases where the parties agree.
Saskatchewan Justice will offer a comprehensive and integrated service plan for couples in high conflict situations. As part of Saskatchewan's family law strategy, the province offers supervised access and supervised exchange services for separating/divorcing couples in high conflict situations. In 2003/2004, the province began offering a new high conflict parent education session. This pilot project builds on these initiatives and provides a comprehensive and integrated service plan for couples in high conflict situations. Parents who use the supervised access services may be asked to attend the six-hour conflict session as part of their case plan. It also envisages that the dual approach of the therapeutic supervised access program and the high conflict parenting program will provide families an opportunity to learn positive coping methods.
Despite Saskatchewan Justice's successful province-wide voluntary parent education program (see description under Family Justice Initiatives section), access to the program is still an issue for many residents in rural or northern locations. Saskatchewan Justice will produce its parent education program on CD which will be made available in northern communities, and other communities where parent education sessions are not offered. Specific attention will be paid to whether existing program content is culturally appropriate for Aboriginal peoples.
- BRITISH COLUMBIA:
The Ministry of Attorney General of British Columbia will be establishing a project to administratively recalculate child support orders on an annual basis, based on updated income information, in accordance with the child support guidelines. The office will serve selected locations in the province on a pilot basis. More information on this service and similar services is available in the Family Justice Initiatives section of this document.
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