Federal Funding of Provincial and Territorial Child Support, Support Enforcement and Child Custody and Access Projects


The Department of Justice Canada established the Child Support Initiative in 1996 to help implement the Federal Child Support Guidelines and new and enhanced support enforcement measures.  A key element of these efforts was the Child Support Implementation and Enforcement Fund.  In effect from April 1996 to March 2000, the Fund provided financial assistance to provincial and territorial governments to cover part of the costs they incurred to implement child support guidelines and new enforcement measures.  In April 2000, the Fund was replaced by the Child-centred Family Justice Fund, which enlarged the focus of federal funding from implementing child support reforms to developing and improving family law programs and services that deal with child custody and access, child support, and support enforcement in a more integrated manner.

This report provides an overview of provincial and territorial projects supported through the two funds from the 1997-1998 fiscal year to 2000-2001.  The information comes from the provincial and territorial funding proposals and progress reports submitted to the Department of Justice Canada.  As it identifies only federally funded activities, the report does not provide a complete picture of the work any one province or territory has done to implement child support guidelines, enhance enforcement programs, or to improve family law services.

The report is intended to account for federal funding activities, provide interested readers with some insight into the services available to divorcing and separating parents and facilitate information sharing among provincial and territorial officials.  Because of the number of projects and activities covered, descriptions of funded projects, programs and services are concise.  Readers wanting more detailed information are invited to seek additional information from the complete list of programs, by province, in the appendices, evaluation reports, and other reference documents cited throughout the text or by contacting the federal, provincial or territorial offices responsible for the development of family law services.

Child Support Implementation and Enforcement Fund
(April 1996 to March 2000)

The Child Support Implementation and Enforcement Fund made up to $50 million available for activities associated with implementation of the child support guidelines and designated $13.6 million for maintenance enforcement projects.  The implementation component was intended to allow the provinces and territories to collaborate with the federal government on innovative, cost-effective programs and procedures to help parents obtain original child support orders and variations to existing orders.  The enforcement component supported innovative, cost-effective enforcement measures and processes, including national and international reciprocal enforcement of support orders.  The Department of Justice Canada and the provincial and territorial governments established an annual allocation target for each province and territory, based on their population in these two broad areas.

Federal, provincial and territorial officials established primary areas of activity for each component of the funding program to ensure that funded activities support federal objectives, while offering the provinces and territories the benefit of predictability in their year-to-year planning.  The following were the primary areas of activity for the implementation component of the Fund:

The following were project areas under the enforcement component:

Child-centred Family Justice Fund (April 2000 to March 2001)

Following implementation of child support guidelines, provincial and territorial governments modified existing programs and services and tested and implemented new approaches.  Many of these services are in the areas of child custody and access, as well as child support and maintenance enforcement.  For example, many jurisdictions have implemented parent education programs or broadened existing programs to include child support information and to stress front-end solutions such as consent orders.  Similarly, mediation services and other alternative program delivery strategies that increase the involvement of both parents in their children’s lives are as effective for resolving child custody disputes as they are in child support cases.  In recognition of this and the need to support the continued development and stabilization of such services throughout Canada, the federal government modified the terms of reference and primary areas of activity for funding to include custody and access, as well as support and maintenance enforcement services.

The Child-centred Family Justice Fund, which was introduced in April 2000, has three components:


The Department of Justice Canada identified 11 principles to offer guidance to all levels of government as they decide what projects to propose and approve under the Family Justice Initiatives and the Incentive for Special Projects components.

Family Justice Initiatives

The Family Justice Initiatives component is structured and managed in the same manner as was the earlier Child Support Implementation and Enforcement Fund—that is, each jurisdiction is allocated a portion of the available funds based on its population, and must obtain approval of the projects it proposes to implement or maintain in that year.  The projects must fall within one of the eight primary areas of activity (PAA) as follows:

Incentive for Special Projects

The Incentive for Special Projects component is a small amount of funding used to promote the development of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in the provinces and territories, including processes to determine, vary or recalculate child support.  Recalculation models must be timely, cost-efficient for parents seeking to have child support recalculated and accessible to parents, and should facilitate agreement between parents on the child support amount.  Only provincial and territorial governments can apply for this funding, which is awarded through a competitive process.

Funding Allocations

In 1996-1997, prior to implementation of Bill C-41, which brought in the Federal Child Support Guidelines, the Department of Justice Canada and the provincial and territorial governments established an annual allocation target for each province and territory based on its population.  There have been adjustments to the original allocation to accommodate changes in provincial and territorial planning assumptions and experience.  The Department was also able to identify small surpluses each year in some jurisdictions that were then made available to other jurisdictions with implementation and support enforcement demands in excess of their original allocations.  The following table identifies the actual allocations by jurisdiction for the period ending 1999‑2000 and projected funding for 2000-2001 through 2002‑2003.


$ (million)

1996-1997 1997-1998 1998-1999 1999-2000
Newfoundland 0 297,537 404,903 323,276
Nova Scotia 0 462,133 709,900 439,809
New Brunswick 5,500 340,334 449,753 470,647
Prince Edward Island 5,000 128,118 268,001 197,430
Quebec 0 4,786,673 4,776,810 3,452,735
Ontario 0 6,248,734 4,525,321 3,610,133
Manitoba 7,000 714,719 667,358 644,300
Saskatchewan 25,350 688,287 664,305 366,844
Alberta 0 1,614,476 1,675,806 1,459,368
British Columbia 20,000 1,610,478 3,003,501 1,928,133
Yukon 0 143,118 90,000 83,000
Northwest Territories 0 119,500 226,176 144,471
Nunavut 0 0 0 138,118
Total 62,850 17,154,107 17,461,834 13,258,264


$ (million)

2000-2001 2001-2002 2002-2003 1996-2003
Newfoundland 273,276 310,196 273,276 1,882,464
Nova Scotia 417,809 481,830 439,809 2,951,20
New Brunswick 410,464 396,200 356,543 2,429,441
Prince Edward Island 195,000 181,765 150,000 1,125,314
Quebec 2,826,530 4,167,892 3,427,735 23,438,375
Ontario 4,910,133 5,237,401 5,114,287 29,676,009
Manitoba 532,530 577,156 532,530 3,675,593
Saskatchewan 508,698 596,844 476,698 3,327,026
Alberta 1,419,078 1,407,998 1,279,578 8,856,304
British Columbia 1,726,133 1,807,591 1,726,133 11,821,969
Yukon 272,647 180,391 150,000 919,156
Northwest Territories 145,000 210,532 150,000 995,679
Nunavut 137,673 220,345 150,000 646,136
Total 13,774,971 15,776,141 14,256,589 91,744,756