The Halifax Daily News
December 12, 2002
What cost change?: Feds to spend $48 million to set up new divorce laws, double the funding promised to the program
OTTAWA - The federal government is quietly spending almost twice as much money on advertising, research and training lawyers about new divorce laws than it will put toward new funding for counselling and mediation for separating parents.
Critics denounced the spending as a bonanza for the divorce industry at a time the government says it is trying to make child custody battles less adversarial.
The Justice Department, in announcing long-awaited changes to the Divorce Act, said Tuesday it will spend almost $48 million over five years on enhanced research about divorce and educating lawyers about a federal change in attitude toward child custody.
In comparison, the government will contribute about $25 million in new funding for the provinces over five years to run programs that counsel separating parents on how to jointly care for their children and provide mediation for those who cannot agree.
The funding is a 33-per-cent increase in the $15 million that the federal government already contributes annually to counselling programs.
"This is a victory for the divorce industry,'' declared Ontario Liberal MP Roger Gallaway.
"This is a bonanza for the professionals,'' added Liberal Senator Anne Cools.
Cools and Gallaway, two outspoken supporters of men's rights, were angry that Cauchon formally rejected the premise that divorcing parents should be presumed equal in the eyes of the law when it comes to raising their children.
After years of intense lobbying, groups representing non-custodial parents failed to convince the minister to enshrine the concept of "shared parenting'' so that each parent would have a legal right to spend time with their children.