REPORT ON FEDERAL-PROVINCIAL-TERRITORIAL CONSULTATIONS

APPENDIX C: REPORT ON MANITOBA WORKSHOPS

INTRODUCTION

Workshops on custody and access were held in Flin Flon on June 8, 2001, Brandon on June 12, 2001, Winnipeg on June 14, 2001, and St. Boniface on June 15, 2001. In total, 67 people participated in the workshops. Tables 1 to 4 list the participating organizations.

The following topics were discussed:

  • best interests of children;
  • roles and responsibilities of parents; and
  • family violence.

One women's group boycotted the Brandon consultation. Some of the reasons given for the boycott were that the consultation document and process:

  • fail to acknowledge women's realities in marriage, including their vulnerability to violence and poverty, and the highly conflictual nature of many parents' separation from each other;
  • do not make a single reference to women;
  • provide no gender analysis of the issues; and
  • do not recognize the disadvantages of abused women (in physical, psychological and financial terms).

SUMMARY OF THE DISCUSSIONS

BEST INTERESTS OF CHILDREN

What are children's needs when their parents separate?
Safety of Children

The safety of children was most strongly emphasized in all the discussions, with various definitions of what safety actually entails. Some participants suggested that a child's safety refers to his or her whole environment: physical, emotional, psychological and financial. Ensuring basic needs was also mentioned, including adequate housing and medical needs. Other participants stressed that ensuring safety also means keeping children out of the conflict-the arguments and, in some cases, violence-between the parents. Protective measures should be taken whenever a child's safety may be compromised. The question was asked (but not answered) about what kinds of protective measures are appropriate in situations involving allegations of child abuse.

Stability, Consistency, Predictability

The potential for emotional harm to children during separation and divorce was discussed fairly extensively in all sessions. It was noted by many participants that children need as much stability in their lives as possible, and that parents should strive to maintain routines and consistency in their children's lives, both during and after separation. Parents must continue to communicate positively with children about their day-to-day needs, and to respect children's daily activities (for example, their homework and bedtime routine). Maintaining "rules" at both parents' homes is necessary to ensure consistency in the children's daily lives. Planning (e.g. for access) well ahead of time, informing the children of the plan, and sticking to the plan helps give the children a sense of predictability and safety. Maintaining that stability outside the family (in the community, schools and day care) would also contribute to children's well-being.

Parents' Access

Some diverging views emerged about parents' access to children. While some participants said that parents should adhere strictly to the access plan and agreement, others felt that flexibility to change the agreement was important.

Some participants suggested that children need "equal access" to both parents, regardless of financial issues. Others suggested that both parents should commit to staying geographically near to each other, to make access and involvement easier for both parents.

Children Need To Be Children

Much of the discussion concerned the integrity of children: respecting children's lives and views, and ensuring that children do not feel a burden of responsibility for the parents' well-being. These ideas were expressed as follows.

Participants said that both parents must respect their children's interests and activities, in accordance with the children's age and stage of development. Children must have the opportunity to express their own opinions. Some participants felt that if children are old and mature enough they should have a voice in decisions concerning custody and access. Other participants qualified this statement by adding that, while children's opinions should be acknowledged in court decisions, children should be protected from being involved in the legal process.

Participants emphasized that parents must ensure that their children do not feel responsible for the parents' well-being. Children need to be assured that they are not to blame for the break-up. Nor should children be placed in the position of mediator or messenger, and be forced to report back to and from the other parent. As well, children must be allowed to love both parents, without guilt or fear of recrimination. Thus, parents must avoid commenting negatively about the other parent in the presence of the children, and protect them from having to choose between parents. Children should also not have to worry about adult problems, such as money or child support.

Children must feel at liberty to care about any new partners and their extended family, whenever it is safe to do so. Participants pointed out that "the extended family is a part of a child's home." Likewise, it is important to respect sibling relations.

External Support

Participants at all sessions said that for the best interests of children to be met, both parents and children need access to social services for support. Access to services that deal with the family's legal and parenting issues and provide information are particularly important in situations of high conflict.

In discussing support mechanisms for parents, participants at one session suggested that measures are needed to discourage parents from engaging in an adversarial process. At the same time, the process needs to be timely and to encourage parents to make decisions as swiftly as possible. Some participants argued that a "standard order" or "default position" should protect against parents' unwillingness to make custody and access decisions. Other participants disagreed with this suggestion, arguing that such a temporary order would establish a status quo in the law, which may be unsafe for some children or parents.

Some participants thought that parent education, counselling and support services to help parents focus on their children's emotional needs should even be mandated or ordered by the judge. Some suggested that, before custody decisions are made, the family situation should be properly assessed to avoid false allegations against one or the other parent.

One participant declared that financial child support must be dealt with immediately and rapidly by the courts.

In terms of external support for children, many participants proposed that children need their own advocate, such as a counsellor, lawyer, social worker or elder, to ensure that their voices are heard. This might also ensure that children's views on time-sharing are properly considered. It was also suggested that children may require supervised access or a mediator to prevent one parent "telling stories" about the other. Participants felt that when children are exposed to high levels of conflict, counselling should be mandatory. Several participants felt that support systems should be established in schools or in familiar community agencies. In contrast, one participant said that children need a sense of security in their homes, too, so they will not be intimidated by social service agencies or be afraid that they will be "taken away."

Participants proposed that the legislation be sensitive to gender issues, disabilities and cultural differences. One participant suggested a children's "bill of rights" that would include provisions for protection, growth, nurturing, wholeness and knowledge of cultural traditions.

Currently, the Federal Divorce Act does not specify factors to consider when determining the best interests of children. Should it? If so, what is to be included in the legislation?

Participants' views on these questions ranged from a clear "no" to a clear "yes." Many participants expressed concern about including factors in the Divorce Act, and suggested various solutions. Others suggested qualifying the use of such a list of factors, based on certain conditions.

Reasons why the Divorce Act should not list factors to consider in determining the best interests of children
  • A list would promote a competitive approach between parents and increase conflict. The law should not set parents up to compete rather than to cooperate.
  • Unlisted factors might not be taken into consideration.
  • A list of factors increases danger of losing the broader perspective of the individual family. Each family should have its own set of factors assessed and have its case judged on its own merits. Advocates should present the family's individual and specific issues.
  • With a list of factors comes the problem of deciding how to rate the variables in each family (e.g. cultural and economic differences). Each factor could be scored without full understanding of the child's environment or what is at stake.
Suggestions for approaches other than listing factors to consider in the Divorce Act, for determining the best interests of children
  • Place emphasis on educating parents, lawyers, judges and other practitioners about children's needs.
  • Include more guidelines in the Divorce Act to promote more consistency in considering children's needs and abilities. These guidelines could include basic principles for judges to adhere to (as is done in the Child and Family Services Act).
  • A list of factors could be used in family courts in the form of a general "bill of rights" for children's welfare in any circumstance.
  • Explore the best ways to get the message out (e.g. pamphlets).
Reasons why the Divorce Act should list factors to consider in determining the best interests of children
  • Listing factors would ensure that certain issues are included that might otherwise be neglected (e.g. cultural factors or the role of the extended family or elders).
  • Judges need consistency in factors to determine what is best for children. A list of factors would ensure that judges could more consistently address children's needs and abilities.
  • Without a list, no one can know for certain what factors the judge is taking into consideration.
  • Without a list, there would be no way to ensure that all factors are taken into account.
Factors that should be included, were the Divorce Act to list factors in determining the best interests of children
  • Financial support and equalization of financial power.
  • "friendly parent" attitude towards access, based on children's needs and ability to cope.
  • History of primary care, as well as prior involvement and responsibility for the children.
  • Characteristics of the parents' relationship.
  • History of the children's relationships.
  • Developmental stage of the children (not simply their ages).
  • Physical needs.
  • Academic needs.
  • Cultural and language needs.
  • Parent's ability to form and follow through with a plan for the children.
  • Cultural factors, including "rootedness" (the sense of belonging in the home and community).
Qualifying conditions for including a list of factors in the Divorce Act for determining the best interests of children
  • The list of factors should not be exhaustive. Judges must be allowed a certain degree of discretion.
  • Any list should reflect the complexity of factors in individual cases.
  • Children's needs should be separated from property and "adult" issues.
  • Factors should reflect the opinions and input of social service experts in determining children's best interests.
  • It should not be presumed that the mother will be the primary caregiver.
  • There should be recognition of the societal gender bias against women.
  • Any list of factors should be culturally sensitive in their assessment of how parents function.
  • The legislation should use wording that allows for the inclusion of the extended family and others to whom the child may be attached. The use of the word parenting is limiting in this regard.
  • The agreement should be revised periodically.
  • Wording should be chosen to eliminate the idea of a "winner" and a "loser."

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF PARENTS

What are the salient roles and responsibilities of parents following separation or divorce?

Only two of the Manitoba sessions discussed this question as a separate issue. The discussion generally reflected the themes participants raised about best interests of children, since participants felt the role of parents upon separation is primarily to ensure that their children's best interests are met.

Ensuring Children's Safety

Participants said the parents should be responsible for providing an emotionally and physically safe environment for the children in and around the home. This would include providing for children's basic needs, such as food, clothing and shelter.

Ensuring Stability, Consistency and Predictability in the Children's Lives

Participants said parents must strive to cause as little disruption to children's lives as possible. It was suggested that parents should set consistent rules and boundaries for the children in both households to lessen the children's sense of confusion. Some also suggested that parents must base decisions about where the children should live on the children's needs (including proximity to a familiar community).

Ensuring Adequate Parental Access

Some participants said that both parents have a responsibility to maintain contact and communication with the children. It was pointed out that when a non-communication order has been issued, or when direct communication may be unsafe, communication could take place via a neutral party or via fax, letter, and e-mails. (Note that although this suggestion was made by a participant, to do as suggested could result in the communicating parent facing criminal charges for violation of the non-communication order.)

It should be the parents' responsibility to share information freely and in a timely manner with the other parent regarding such issues as school pictures, report cards, and dental or medical care. Some participants said it should be the responsibility of both parents to obtain information, so that staying involved with the children's schooling does not fall on only one parent's shoulders.

It was suggested that parents need to respect each other's ability to raise and provide for the children while the children are at the other parent's home. Children's time with the other parent needs to be respected, as well as the other parent's right to love and have time with the children. It was also noted that parents should meet their financial commitments to one another.

Ensuring that Children are Allowed to be Children

In keeping with the discussion on the best interests of children, participants emphasized that parents must take responsibility for not involving their children in adult issues and conflict, and for not putting the children in a situation of having to choose between parents. Thus, parents must not speak negatively about the other parent in front of the children. And they must make sure the children do not become involved in the legal dispute. It is the parents' responsibility, not the children's, to generate positive solutions to conflicts. Participants stressed that parents should not communicate through their children.

Participants stressed that parents should always remain child-focused. Both parents should encourage children to express their feelings towards the other parent, and make sure they know it is all right, for example, to miss the other parent or to feel hurt.

Participants also suggested that parents must be responsible for maintaining extended family ties in a positive way, as well as the cultural or religious extensions of those ties (when the culture or religion is part of the child's sense of belonging to that family).

Seeking External Support

Many participants felt that parents must assume the responsibility of seeking external support for themselves. Parents should seek counselling or mediation to resolve issues rather than using the courts. It was also pointed out that parents need to respect the other parent's choice to seek counselling. The need for counselling should not be used as a weapon against the other parent.

Some participants suggested that it be mandatory for parents to attend programs regarding children's and/or parents' needs to help them deal with ongoing issues. Others said that such programs for parents should be readily available after a separation or divorce, but that they should be optional.

What services would be helpful to parents who are trying to reach agreement?

Participants offered many suggestions for services for parents and children before, during and after separation. Besides specific services, participants suggested improving the current general approach to providing support services, including structural issues of access to services.

Structural Issues Concerning the Provision of Services

Participants said that services for parents could be improved by increasing funding, making services more timely and affordable, coordinating services better among agencies, and placing more emphasis on early intervention and follow-up measures. The need for services that can embrace language and cultural differences was also noted. Services should be more physically centralized, with a safe place available for "one-stop shopping" for all services. Some participants identified the need for increased services for rural families. Some also said there must first be better understanding of the barriers to accessing services before real improvements can be made.

Mediation and Dispute Resolution Services

Participants suggested that mediation and other neutral services or community committees should be available to help parents develop a parenting plan. Mediation could also be used for negotiating access issues. A range of dispute resolution services exists that parents should be able to access, including comprehensive mediation, therapeutic mediation and therapeutic access services. Family conferencing centres were also mentioned as a venue for assessing levels of potential violence and for involving all family members in a discussion about conflict issues.

Some participants remarked that conciliation and mediation workers need to be adequately trained and skilled. It was suggested, for example, that mediators should be more aware of gender-based power issues. Some participants argued that mediation should remain voluntary. Also, parents should have access to resources to help them better prepare for participating in mediation. Also suggested was coordination between social and legal services to facilitate information sharing.

California Special Masters Program

Reference was made to Special Masters, who can help families after a financial order is made and when conflict continues to arise or during the process of separation (with emotional issues, for example).

Counselling and Support Services

Some participants felt that mental health services, in general, need to be more readily available. Participants also mentioned anger management and divorce counselling, and suggested that support groups (such as talking circles) should be made available to all victims and offenders, or for people going through separation. Such groups should be generally available to all families with problems, not only in situations of family violence. Some participants stated that professionals engaged with families should be able to have affordable access to experts. Another suggestion was that there should also be support groups for custodial parents.

Family Sponsors

Some participants suggested the idea of a family sponsor. For example, in some Aboriginal communities, elders work with parents to help them strengthen the marriage bond and resist separating.

Counselling for Children

It was noted that counselling services should be available for children, and that they be available in a timely manner. For example, some communities currently have access to a particular service only two times per year. Follow-up services and advocacy for children were also mentioned.

Access Services

A great deal of the discussion focused on access services. Supervised access centres were considered very important, as they protect children from witnessing violence and allow for contact with both parents. Participants put forth many suggestions, including the following:

  • Some felt that access agencies should be able to work with and refer people to other community agencies (it was felt that currently access agencies are often prevented from doing so).
  • Others suggested that access agencies engaged with families should be able to liaise with the courts in some way, in order to provide feedback to families, so they don't have to rely on lawyers to report back to them.
  • Some participants said supervised access centres would become more sensitive to children's needs if more visits were possible.
  • Participants also said that services should be expanded to include transition and exchanges between parents.
  • Some participants proposed that access services should be extended to family members, even when a court order does not exist. Participants discussed whether this should occur with or without the agreement of parents.
  • Others participants said that supervised access needs to be more available outside the access centres, and in the presence of supervisors or adequately trained workers.
  • Again, some participants noted that barriers to access exchange services need to be removed for people who are not using them.
Education and Information

Participants generally agreed that obtaining timely, readily available information and education about children's needs and development, parenting and custody and access issues is important. Some felt that existing educational programs should be better advertised, and that much information could be made available in a cost-effective way (for example, on-line) or through a single source (such as an information clearinghouse).

Participants suggested that parents need to educate themselves about parenting, the emotional impact of separation on children, financial issues associated with separation, separation and divorce issues (as part of pre-marital education courses), legal issues, conflict management, availability of services, and issues particular to single-parent families. In particular, some participants identified the need to have parenting classes for young parents as a preventive measure.

Information about the Divorce Act should be made available in simple language. Translation for individuals whose first language is not English should also occur.

For the Sake of the Children

Some participants pointed out that the "For the Sake of the Children" parent education program successfully helped parents in Manitoba understand the affects on children of separation and divorce and develop harmonious relations during and after the divorce process. There was some discussion about whether this program should be mandatory or remain voluntary for parents.

Legal Aid Services

Some participants called for funding to facilitate better access to legal aid and free legal information.

Court Structure

Some participants noted that the court structure needs to accommodate families in a more timely fashion. Court facilities should be made more family-friendly. It was noted by some participants that case conferencing should be more readily available, without parents having to make multiple filings.

Other

Some comments were made in one Manitoba workshop about child support. Some participants noted that in Manitoba the amount of the support payments is deducted from the receiving parent's welfare cheque. Thus, the paying parent has no incentive to make the payments. It was suggested that interprovincial cooperation is needed to solve the problems associated with support payments. It was also mentioned that the law should be more severe with delinquent parents.

There has been considerable debate over the most relevant and appropriate wording to be used in the legislation (various options are fully described in the discussion guide.)

What do you feel is the appropriate message to include in the legislation?
Care and Control

Some participants noted that in Manitoba the terms care and control are used instead of custody and access. Parents might have primary or secondary care and control of the children, and one parent may have final decisionmaking powers when they are unable to agree. This terminology addresses both the physical and emotional levels of responsibility. Physical responsibility can be shared, but emotional responsibility is always equal. Some participants felt that this terminology leads to rivalry between parents, both of whom may want the greater degree of control. Others pointed out that the terms care and control need to be better defined in the legislation.

Custody and Access

While participants expressed a wide range of views on terminology, the majority seemed to feel that the terms custody and access are not appropriate. Participants felt that these words connote a sense of ownership, implying that there is a winner and a loser. It was mentioned that the terms custody and access criminalize families and children (connotation of the penal system). Some felt that more neutral wording (such as time shared with each parent) is important to discourage conflict. It was suggested that the current terms give parents a menu of what they can get, rather than focusing on their roles and responsibilities. Some participants felt that the current terms give custodial parents much greater power over non-custodial parents. Non-custodial parents may also feel less responsible and, therefore, contribute less.

On the other hand, advocates for keeping the terms custody and access argued that changing the wording would lead to increased time in court (from having to continually define the meanings of new terminology). These participants suggested that the focus should be on education to remove the current connotations. They also felt that the current terms give a clear message that is understandable to all. Others stressed the need for clearer definitions of the terms. Some participants noted that using new language could affect international custody agreements.

Parental Responsibility

Many of the participants thought that the term parental responsibility would be an appropriate choice of terminology. In contrast to custody and access, parental responsibility is a neutral term that can be defined differently for each situation and therefore used more effectively to achieve parental consensus. It was noted that the term parenting plan does not connote a winner and loser, and the plan would outline how the responsibilities would be shared. Some participants suggested that use of the term would underscore ongoing parental responsibility. Participants also felt that this term is preferable to shared parenting, which seems both more emotionally laden and less focused on the needs of children.

Those arguing against parental responsibility generally felt the term is too vague, and thus could lead to more conflict and litigation. Some felt that it suggests the negative connotation of ownership. Others pointed out that responsibility is not innate but acquired.

Shared Parenting

The terminology and concept of shared parenting was strongly preferred by some participants. It was seen as a positive and non-adversarial term. The concept is based on the presumption that both parents take equal responsibility (as a starting point) in providing for the children, and that this is non-adversarial. Parents wishing to start from another position would have to demonstrate why they should not have shared parenting. Some participants suggested that shared parenting is in the best interests of children (except in violent situations). Extended family members could also be involved in shared parenting.

Other participants voiced very strong objections to the concept of shared parenting. One concern was that the presumption of shared parenting may make agreements allowing parents to live in separate communities (e.g. due to work demands) difficult to negotiate. The impact of mobility in general was discussed. Participants mainly argued that the concept conceals power imbalances between parents and between genders, and puts abused parents at a disadvantage. A concern was raised that families might need help to determine when shared parenting is not appropriate. It was felt that parenting decisions should not be made when there are unproved allegations. Some participants felt that achieving shared parenting is a not very realistic goal (equality is implied but does not exist; some parents do not want to be involved in parenting).

Some participants argued that with shared parenting as a legal presumption, proving what is in the best interests of children may be difficult: "It is a good moral position with a questionable legal outcome."

It was also felt that with shared parenting, the 40 percent rule should be dropped. The whole family situation should be examined financially and the needs of the family developed holistically. It was also noted that a change is needed with respect to 50-50 time sharing so that financial security is not greatly reduced. Child support should not be tied to time sharing.

Overall Messages

Participants delivered the following overall messages about legislation:

  • The Divorce Act and terminology used in it should focus on the children. Parents are not divorcing their children, and children are entitled to have a family. Some participants mentioned that children's right to a family should be a guiding principle in the Act. The Act should combine consideration of children's rights with parents' responsibilities.
  • New terminology should encourage a focus on children's needs, consider the family as a whole, and encourage parents to make decisions in the best interest of their children.
  • Vague language brings about high conflict, so meanings of terms need to be neutral and very clear. The same messages must be conveyed to parents, police, lawyers, judges, extended family members and children themselves.
  • Participants strongly argued that a change in words will not make a difference unless the way in which the system as a whole works also changes. For example, services would need to be in place to deal with a less adversarial approach. The terms should also be used consistently across the country. Some participants questioned how new terminology would affect child welfare legislation.
  • Legislation should include rights of extended family members.
  • The language should have a positive self-fulfilling prophecy: clear expectations about the importance of children's needs.
  • Others suggested that changing the legal wording will not lower conflict. "You can try to legislate change, but not attitudes." It was suggested that attitudes could be changed through education.

FAMILY VIOLENCE

What are the issues facing children in situations of family violence?

Participants gave lengthy accounts of the possible effects of violence on children, all of which were described as "complex." First and foremost was that children in situations of violence face a loss of physical and emotional safety. Children who are unable to predict behaviour in their immediate environment may lose their sense of security. Children in situations of family violence may be deprived of basic physical needs, such as sleep.

Participants in all sessions stated that children in situations of family violence and conflict tend to live with a sense of constant fear, feel guilty, assume the conflict is their fault, and lose their sense of trust. Children in such situations may become "parentified"-feeling they need to take care of and worry about the parent and their siblings. Children are likely to develop low self-esteem.

Many participants said that physical and emotional abuse result in both immediate and long-term behavioural problems for children, manifested in poor problem-solving skills, acting out and depression. Many participants suggested that "violence teaches violence." As children learn that abuse and oppression are acceptable, violence is transmitted and frequently carried on by the children in adult lives.

Some participants discussed children's and parents' needs in situations of family violence. It was suggested that both parents and children need counselling. Supervised access centres were considered very important in facilitating the transfer of the children between parents. Some participants also suggested that an independent service be set up to investigate allegations of abuse, so that the burden of proof does not rest on the parents' shoulders, since it is difficult to prove the presence of abuse. Some participants wondered how to determine when children are able to decide for themselves whether they want to visit the non-custodial parent. Others wanted to know how a relationship between a parent and his or her children can be re-established after a period of limited or no contact.

What messages would you like to see reflected in the terminology and legislation with respect to family violence?
Definition of Family Violence

Some participants discussed the need to define the terminology associated with family violence. Some argued that the definition must include various forms of violence, including physical and emotional violence. Others suggested that "family violence" must be distinguished from "domestic violence," but that the latter must also be considered when making decisions about custody and access. The point was made that the definition of violence is culturally determined to some degree. Some participants said that legislation should recognize that both men and women can be abused and that this abuse should be taken seriously.

Option 1

Some participants said that the courts already take family violence into account and were in favour of leaving the legislation unchanged. This would increase the emphasis on services and resources.

Option 2

No specific comments were recorded about option 2.

Option 3

Some participants indicated their support for family violence being a factor that judges are obliged to consider.

Option 4

Many participants favoured option 4 because they felt that children's right to safety ought to always override a parent's right to parent. The message should be that a violent parent is not a good parent. To the "presumption of limited contact with family violence," some participants added that contact between parents should also be eliminated when violence is a factor. Some participants felt, however, that the presumption of "limited contact" may encourage more false allegations by parents who want custody of their children. Some participants said that parents who are victims of violence should not have to negotiate with the other parent when they are afraid. It was noted that during conflicts, abused parents may wish to avoid the abusing parent, even when they risk losing child support. Some participants noted that judges must consider violence as a factor according to standards described by experts in the family violence field.

Option 5

Some participants favoured option 5, in particular when the children are not at risk. Some argued that children can still benefit from contact with a parent that has been abusive towards the other parent. Such contact should take place under supervision. It was noted that the "friendly parent rule" discouraged families from dealing with violence issues and should be repealed. The option of "no contact" should exist for families when there is no benefit, and potential harm could occur during access.

With regard to both option 4 and option 5, many participants said that appropriate and timely assessment services should be in place to determine the degree and impact of possible violence. There was disagreement among the participants, however, about the role of assessments in determining violence. Some felt that allegations of violence should be proven rather than assumed. Others said the law must consider protection of children as paramount and seriously consider allegations of violence even if not proven by the assessment. Some participants suggested that the burden of proof should not rest with the parent because of the difficulty of proving abuse. There was some agreement that allegations of abuse must be investigated quickly.

Treatment and Counselling

Participants further discussed whether abusive parents should be required to accept treatment and counselling. While many felt this should be the case, others said such treatment must be done in a sensitive manner, considering that adult offenders frequently are victims of violence themselves. It was noted that orders for supervised access often expire without further assessment or monitoring of the situation. Instead, positive changes and participation in treatment need to be shown. It was also noted that in cases of family violence both parents and children need counselling.

Messages for Legislation

Legislative changes must be accompanied by adequate funding of the services needed, as well as training and education programs. These could include supervised transfer locations and independent services to investigate allegations of abuse.

  • Legislation should define what level of violence will result in the law limiting a parent's involvement.
  • Resources need to be applied to violence detection and treatment, and to address allegations that are unrecorded and unverifiable. Resources are necessary to legislate violence as a factor in family access orders.
  • Funding is also required to deal with offenders in a sensitive manner.
  • Legislation must take into account the role of the extended family in violent situations.
  • Judges should have more power to order counselling as a condition of ongoing access. If this were so, services would have to be regularly available (not just two times a year), and legislation would have to mandate which services were to be available.
  • Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada sets out corporal punishment of children, with few restrictions, as an exemption to assault. This needs to be addressed when looking at violence to children.

Organizations Represented at the Flin Flon Workshop

  • Aurora House Crisis Centre, The Pas
  • Cree Nation Family and Child Caring Agency
  • Flin Flon District Assessment and Referral Services
  • Flin Flon Indian and Métis Friendship Association
  • Legal Aid Manitoba, The Pas
  • Manitoba Métis Federation, The Pas
  • Mayer, Dearman, Pelizzaro, Thompson
  • McDonald Thompson Huberdeau, Thompson
  • Mirwaldt & Gray, The Pas
  • Northlands Community Law Centre
  • Wight Law Office

Organizations Represented at the Brandon Workshop

  • Abandoned Grandparent Support Group
  • Bachelor of First Nations and Aboriginal Counselling Program, Brandon University
  • Brandon Access Exchange Service
  • Child and Family Services of Central Manitoba
  • Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba
  • Dakota Ojibway Child and Family Services
  • Darrin White Family Foundation
  • Grand Society for Grandparents' Rights
  • Health and Human Services Division, Assiniboine Community College
  • Meighan Haddad & Co.
  • Portage la Prairie School Division
  • Roy, Johnston & Co.
  • Salvation Army
  • Samaritan House
  • Shilo Military Family Resource Centre
  • Westman Women's Shelter

Organizations Represented at the Winnipeg Workshop

  • African Women's League
  • Centre Youville
  • Child and Youth Care Program, Red River Community College
  • Child Guidance Clinic
  • Child Protection Centre
  • Community Legal Education Association
  • Family Centre of Winnipeg
  • GRAND Society (Manitoba Chapter)
  • Legal Aid Manitoba
  • Loewen Martens & Rempel, Barristers and Solicitors
  • Lofchick, Jones & Assoc.
  • Manitoba Association of Social Workers
  • Manitoba Association of Women and the Law
  • Manitoba Women's Advisory Council
  • Men's Equalization Inc.
  • Native Women's Transition Centre
  • Nova House Inc.
  • Philippino Community Association
  • Resolve Manitoba
  • Southeast Child and Family Services
  • Taylor, McCaffrey, Barristers and Solicitors
  • Winnipeg Child Access Agency Inc.
  • Winnipeg Child and Family Services

Organizations Represented at the St. Boniface Workshop

  • Robertson Shypit Soble Wood, Barristers and Solicitors
  • L'entre-temps des franco-manitobaines
  • Association des directeurs/trices d'écoles franco-manitobaines
  • Conseil consultatif de la femme (Manitoba)
  • Division scolaire franco-manitobaine
  • Ligue féminine des catholiques du Manitoba
  • Pluri-elles (Manitoba) Inc.
  • Association des juristes d'expression française du Manitoba
Date modified: