Last week, the Auditor General’s report highlighted that the Liberal government has failed almost 14,000 vulnerable children who rely on child support payments.
Auditor General Michael Pickup reported that Nova Scotia’s enforcement program did not collect $60 million in court-ordered spousal and child support payments. After tabling his audit at the Public Accounts Committee, he urged members to call Justice Department officials before the committee – sooner rather than later.
The PCs noted that there are three open dates in June for the Justice Department to come before the committee, and moved a motion to fill all those dates with the three topics from the Auditor General’s report. The Liberals used their majority on the committee to defeat the motion.
Angela Power, who originally enrolled in the program in 2005, has not received a payment for her two children since September 2013.
“Since 2010, I have been trying in vain to get basic amount of child support for my children. It should not be so hard, so expensive, and so time consuming. I wasn’t surprised at all with what the Auditor General discovered. I honestly thought it was kind of him,” says Power. “It’s a difficult program to deal with. My children and I are in crisis because of it.”
Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia, Karla MacFarlane, is disappointed that the McNeil Liberals are playing politics with child support payments.
“Mr. Pickup identified serious issues with the maintenance enforcement program that directly impact vulnerable kids in our province. I’m speechless as to why the Liberals don’t think it’s necessary for the department to be questioned,” says MacFarlane. “Stephen McNeil claims to lead a transparent government, but won’t allow departments come before a committee with an open schedule for June? That isn’t right.”
This isn’t the first time MacFarlane has raised concerns about Ms. Power’s file and the enforcement program. In March, she asked Justice Minister Mark Furey to meet with herself and Ms. Power. The request has been ignored.
“This is more evidence that we need the Justice Department before the committee to get answers for cases like Ms. Power’s,” says MacFarlane. “Now that the Auditor General has identified 14,000 other kids who aren’t receiving their payments, the minister has a responsibility to get answers for them. Someone needs to be held accountable.”