Christy Clark’s “Anti-Bullying Plan” – Let’s also address FMEP bullying

Christy Clark’s “Anti-Bullying Plan” needs to be expanded to address not just bullying in schools, but other areas including FMEP bullying of the working poor and unemployed.

“Clark’s $2 million, 10-point strategy to combat bullying and ensure every child feels safe, accepted and respected” has its critics and supporters. Source CBC.

“The time has come for Canadians to discuss whether the country needs new laws to specifically combat the issue of cyber-bullying”, Premier Christy Clark said in 2012 as she reacted to the suicide of Amanda Todd. Source

Clark said she’s been a passionate anti-bullying advocate and considers ensuring the safety and respect of children one of her top political goals. Well Christy why don’t you also address bullying in other areas like your FMEP program and their bullying of entire families not just children, through cause and effect?

The Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) is outsourced to Themis Program Management Consulting Ltd., a Canadian company and a subsidiary of US based Maximus Inc.

Headed by Chris Beresford as the current Director of Maintenance Enforcement, the program has a caseload of about 45,000 individual cases. Currently, the program “assists” approximately 43,000 families and 66,000 children, and collects and disburses over 190 million dollars (CAD) in maintenance payments each year. Source WikiPedia

FMEP bullies the working poor and unemployed with “enforcement” actions that range from monetary penalties, credit reporting, passport revocation, drivers license suspensions, bank account seizures, wage garnishment and the threat of jail time, just to name a few of the strong arm tactics those we have spoken to have experienced.

Further the “Enforcement Officers” are unwilling to show any leniency or discretion in unemployed or working poor cases.

These methods impact the entire foundation of many families and individual parents and children alike causing hardship, emotional injury, instability and in some cases suicides.

Compounding this problem, Courts in BC are “unfriendly to laypeople”, according to legal professionals we’ve spoken to, the law complex and confusing, the process deeply detailed – yet there is no funding to help with FMEP Enforcement matters through representation by either the Legal Services Society (LSS), the organization that provides legal aid in BC, or Access Pro Bono, who “provide and foster quality pro bono legal services for people and non-profit organizations of limited means”.

27 comments for “Christy Clark’s “Anti-Bullying Plan” – Let’s also address FMEP bullying

  1. j
    August 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    The reason being “unemployed” isn’t counted is because a huge number of people owing spousal or child support payments who work in labour or non-professional jobs “quit” after a divorce/child support order to claim they have no income, and continue to work “under the table”. Look around, most people know someone who has done so.

    I know this because I was a child affected by a father doing exactly that. He “didn’t have” money to pay for food or clothing for his child, but he was buying rounds at the bar for his friends every weekend in cash. He “didn’t have” money to contribute to post-secondary education, but he owned a new boat and could afford to gas it up and go out of the lake all summer.

    In those days, they did not enforce these things. So my shoes were always too small, I have the deformed toes to prove it. My food was always too little, and not nutritious enough. My home was usually unsafe. Because one income is not enough to raise a single adult, let alone a child and paying for childcare.

    And the courts, from an actual human being’s experience rather than lawyers attempting to scare people out of facing them alone, are not “unfriendly to laypeople”. My husband and I are uneducated and living at less than half the poverty wage, and navigated the courts and small claims system just fine. If you are illiterate obviously that would be a lot more difficult, but all the information required for the court process is available freely for anyone who can read, and in various languages. There are toll-free phone numbers to have processes explained to you, from a payphone for free if necessary. There are websites available, which you can access from the library. There is the courthouse itself, which has brochures and informational packets inside.

    • admin
      August 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      I am deeply sorry for your hardship growing up, it sounds like it was very difficult.

      I don’t know if I would say a “huge number” of people. I have not researched the number yet, and I am not sure what data is available, but I would strongly disagree based on my personal experience and the people I have met and spoken with. What are you basing you statements on fact or feelings?

      I would say there are a FEW who do this. I however do not feel because there are a FEW, many more should suffer unfairly. Again, I must strongly disagree.

      In fact, I’ve known one person who felt he didn’t needed to pay support, even though he could. The majority want to help their children and do whatever they can.

      I have never known anyone who worked under the table who was not FORCED to do so by F/MEPs unfair practices in order to survive. I think this is a fallacy.

      I wasn’t aware small shoes caused issues. I haven’t read anything about that malady, but I will also research that.

      Many of us on the other end are not able to properly feed and cloth our children either and have been forced to live in unsafe places, can’t afford healthy food, or even essential medicines. You don’t have to look very far to see examples of this online or in our communities. I’ve personally experienced these things too.

      If more people co parented instead of taking an adversarial stance, which the Courts and Enforcement Systems promote, I question if child care would even be needed as often. I suspect this adversarial stance and children being used as pawns is very high, judging from posts I’ve seen on Parental Alienation Groups on Facebook, and personal experience.

      From this HUMAN’s experience I again strongly disagree. The courts are unfriendly and the Family Law convoluted and confusing. It’s miles apart from Small Claims Court. You can’t compare the two.

      Where can we see some examples of these free help numbers and pamphlets? Our readers coud proably take advanatage of them.

      Perhaps you would consider volunteering to help our reader prepare documents for Court if you are comfortable with the process?

      Let us know.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • John D Jamesson
        March 9, 2017 at 8:24 pm

        I own my my own Business and it tends to be seasonal but just cant give up my business because during the winter I do still get Jobs but before I started my business 2 years ago I was a truck driver so I try to find part time work that works with my business and obligations. Yes I fell behind cause times get tight but I try everything my power to pay. I got 3000 behind in my payments, My monthly is 800….in the beginnging when I first regiresterd my ex claimed me 5000 in arrears after 7 months. I paid up and got caught up ….then I fell behind then after my divorced finalized my payment went from 560 to 800……then withy my arrears it went to 1000…….during the winter things get very tight, since my business is still new Im playing catch up but Im determined to build it cause there is a demand for me now and I cant let people down.Long story short with my payment of 1000 my february month was very slow almost no business and barely scraped by to feed myself and run my business. only grossed 2000 buxs. which is barely enough to eat once a day and put gas in my truck to go to work….now fmep has frozen my last $200 that i have till i can come up with 4500 which is damn next to imposibble cause the account they froze was my business accounnt so now I cant even go to work or operate or collect checks from my customers. Doesnt help my Ex calls me a loser and downgrades me or the fact my daughter lives 500 KM away and can only see her 3-4 times a year. I work my ass off and if FMEP doesnt give me some breathing room or some heavy review I’m seriously gonna commit suicide cause I dunno know how much more mental and emotional abuse I can take from this shit

        • Lisa
          April 19, 2018 at 10:32 pm

          I’m kinda in the same boat. I’ve been off work since feb 2017 with illness (legitimate illness) I still scraped up $ to continue paying the $324 monthly until sept 2017 when I just couldn’t come up with the money. My case is a little different then your, I’m a mom with a new family and two new young children. My husband still only brings home about $3400 a month and that has to pay all our bills and put food on the table. We usually get pay day loans to get us through. I have applied to the courts to have my child support re visited and recalculated but by ex’s has postponed it now until June. Mean time I have now fallen over $3000 behind and just found out that they have seized our joint bank account, have seized my tax return. When I called to let them know that this matter is befor the court they didn’t want to hear anything about it and pretty much implied that because I have a husband and other children that I should have money to pay support. That don’t even make sense! My husbands cheque is direct deposit tonight and there is no way to stop it now from going into a seized account and we have a disconnection notice from hydro that we set up a payment for tomorrow. FMEP is a crock! How did your case turn out? I don’t know where to turn for immediate help, I’m sick to my stomach over this.

    • bullied
      October 27, 2013 at 10:19 pm

      what about the ones who do pay , the ones that have always paid , the ones who are being bullied via fmep…
      I can tell anybody who will listen that i have gone above and beyond my financial means to do right by all my children… I have four beautiful kids… my first from a previous relationship , who is now 20 years 4 months ….
      the last four years of her first six i found myself on the streets of vancouvers east side , as well as vancouvers local institutions….. for the heavy love of my daughter i found my way out and since she was six i have been there….a sober dad , a safer dad …. a dad who loved his daughter more than anything… i was determined to do right , and with my second chance at life i focussed on her and a career in framing , as labour work was all i knew and actually liked it….
      my ex appeared to be happy yet disappointed as she could only stand by me for so long and had eventually moved on…
      anyway since then i have not missed a payment . i have helped out for extras when asked… but i also married in 2002… that is when she introduced me to fmep and was wanting arrears for missed payments while i was living on the streets of vancouvers east side and your local institutions…..
      i have always contested these arrears but at the same time made my support payments and raised them accordingly with my wages… I’ve been to taken to court numerous times and never ordered to do more than i was doing …
      my daughter turned 19 over a year ago and at that time i recieved a letter from fmep stating that my payments would continue for at least four more years as my daughter was continuing with her education… at that time i knew she was working part time… it wasn’t until recently i found out that she was in fact working full time throughout the summer and going to school twice a week during semesters and working the rest..
      at this time i had questions …. during a phone call with a fmep hit man i found out that they were not willing to help me in anyway and it was up to me to stand up and fight…. i was curious what other options my ex may have taken in regards for funding school such as student loans or grants…i have not seen one receipt for anything…. i learned something early in my sobriety that to walk away from confrontation would be key to my survival.. fmep is attacking my wife and my children….. that kind of fight is impossible to walk away from…
      i am now 45 yrs old and still have a young family to support , my career has me at a pay check to pay check arrangement , we don’t have toys of luxury we don’t have medical or dental ….. we are a family with a tonne of love for one another and we get by remaining happy for the most part…..i have made it clear to my ex that i will help out with reasonable requests for my daughters schooling….
      one other thing the hit man let slip over the phone was…that my ex told them not to bother me about so called arrears while i was maintaing my support of 500.00 a month while my daughter was in school…..
      my beef is that these monsters attack good people for what reason i am not sure.. but i am sure of this…. thanksgiving weekend they stole all the money we had and left us with access to nothing…. did i mention my three boys that rely on me to live are under the age of ten !!!!
      i am not a dead beat dad… it makes me feel sick that i have to defend myself…

      • Al
        October 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm

        Firstly I to will state that I have not missed a support payment in 18 years. I have an excellent relationship with my daughter.

        My Ex lied on the form sent by FMEP to her in order to continue receiving benefits.
        I received the FMEP “Request for Information of Child’s Circumstances” copy and was extremely disappointed at how casually this simple yet important document was treated.
        I raised the question to FMEP of the validity and completion of the document and was promptly excused as my concerns not being important. Obviously it is important now, because the information on it is not completely true. I will point out the form is signed and dated by my ex as being accurate and truthful, which is not the case. I have since proved that my daughter is employed full-time and cohabitating with her boyfriend, not attending any school.

        I am perplexed how a simple document from FMEP is treated with such value when the answers could be whatever the writer desires to put. Yet my own concerns were met with irreverence. I am disturbed with how convenient it is for the FMEP not needing to substantiate information from the recipient and how damaging to the payee needing to put such effort into proving the information incorrect. This process at FMEP is obviously flawed and unfair, which has caused me a great deal of stress and time in my correspondence with FMEP.

        The Family Law Act defines a child as a person who is under 19 years of age.
        Section 148 (2) of the Family Law Act states ” A written agreement respecting child support that is filed in the court is enforceable under this act and the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act as if it were an order of the court”

        Having said this my separation agreement states ” xxxx shall pay to yyyy for the support of nnnn the sum of $### per month commencing July 1, 1995, and continuing on the 1st day of each and every month thereafter until nnnn is no longer a child as defined by the Family Relations Act, R.S.B.C 1979,c. 121 and amendments thereto.”

        Yet FMEP in their all-knowing role as judge and jury states that the clause is not and end date. Well I beg to differ and am shocked how FMEP can ignore the law as it’s written in print for all to see. There is more to this story than what I print here but the point is that FMEP staff pull rules out of thin air as it suits them to financially squeeze a payee. They seem to have the ability to not have to justify their actions, even when totally incorrect and morally wrong.

        In the end, with the help of a Lawyer, I have proved my case to FMEP and am getting my income back after 18 years of payments. They have stopped enforcement for the time being, although the letter I received is open ended and not a complete closure. Like an angry dog they don’t want to release their grip. Yes FMEP is a BULLY in all sense of the word.

    • rob
      March 21, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      Maybe if your mother wasn’t such a unt you could have been out with your dad in his boat…. Custody should be 50/50 then no need for oppressive child support paymnets but women just want to sit on there as all day using there children as weapons…

    • Jamie Cherniawsky
      March 21, 2017 at 10:26 am

      Then there is dads that want to work and provide but have had that taken from them. Do to stress of lossing a child not being able to wake up and come home to there own children do to the control of others. Not sitting in bars lossing jobs housing and ending up just fighting to live this lovely life we call earth is a battle that is real. There is moms that have control issues and if they give up time with the child they lose money so reality is what human is going to agree to losing money this is a big problem and it is abussed by mothers and judges to take money from children there future and now. I was ordered to pay three years of back pay well that equals to the childs collage fund that will not be used for it it is going to his mother for her hair and wasting it. Does not go to the child so the way i see it is they collect the money the money is kept for intrest on billions and send the mom a check so why would they help the future of our children. It is sick that they can ruin the lives of past and future . and think it is ok . tell me about all the suicides that are ok because of this. Look into it and see if thats ok to grow up knowing that your dad or mom took there lives over lost memories and finances do to circumstances that are set out by others. Do you think it is ok for a class one driver to go to work with his mind thinking of this instead of his job and his surrounding’s how about stopping infront of these people that are forced to be there just to put two hundred a month in the pocket and the rest is givin away. And would u feel safe …. But this is happening and is real . we are all human and when u lose the memories and days lost and have to pay for this does it really help families or is it destroying them. I know becuase i wake up every day without my only son. And it is devistating but we are put out as the bad when really we are not it takes two and both mom and dad should get equal time for the child. But that takes money out of the courts so we will never win it is a battle lost to money and this is why parents give up its not on the child its the billions of multiple decisions that lead up to this. Is it ok to have 4 children all different dads and collect from only two fathers no but it happens. Single male steps up to help and is thrown to the wolves. This is the worst when u step up to help feed others and it turn on you. Happens more then u think . i heard a story from a single mother saying she would do whatever it takes to keep a roof over there head. Even if it means hooking up with guys that they don’t love just for support and that is just wrong but happens daily.

    • peter hamming
      May 11, 2017 at 9:28 pm

      touching story. to bad its complete BS! Not one single person who has attempted the legal system on their own isnt pretty much baffled and traumatized by it.

  2. Al
    November 16, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    An update to my last post. I have since found that FMEP updated its policy to direct staff to consider information received from payors and to verify information provided by recipients when required to continue monitoring and enforcing child support. This was ordered by the Ombudsperson of BC after an investigation on a complaint.

    The problem is that it is not something that FMEP wants anyone to know. I had to specifically request this service before it was done. And it changed everything.

    • Lisa
      April 19, 2018 at 10:41 pm

      Clicked the link. Funny that policy seems to have disappeared. I could sure use it right now.

    • Lisa
      April 19, 2018 at 11:40 pm This link does not work. Is it still a valid policy I wonder..

      • admin
        April 19, 2018 at 11:55 pm

        I assume you are probably referring to the link that was in AJ’s comment posted in 2013. I would suggest you go to the BC ombudsman site and do a search. The search is accessible from the 404 error page the link directs you to. I suspect all of the documents decisions and policies would still exist within that site. However as we have no affiliation with that site your mileage may vary.

      • admin
        April 20, 2018 at 12:13 am
        • Lisa
          April 20, 2018 at 3:38 pm

          Great! Thanks. I have made a formal complaint with ombudsman and have already gotten a call from them and they provide me with some great next steps. I will take those and hope for the best.

  3. Steve
    February 12, 2015 at 3:36 am

    I share custody /guardianship /no primary residence of 3 children ,I’m behind in arrears due to bias provincial courts judges , fmep is damaging my livelihood , my children and myself , just to collect $ for the underemployed mom ,, liens, garnishment s , frozen bank account etc , they leave u no choice , it forces a parent into further hardship ,, in which is not the best interest of the children , I was even told by the fmep agent that I should go to Alberta to wk (I live in vancouver) ,, so in other words they want me to go wk in Alberta so I pay them big $ and see my children a lot less and be less in their lives , (states show children with 2 active parents in there lives is better , then children children being raised by one parent , the system is corrupt , bias , and most importantly damaging to the children !

  4. DM
    April 26, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Family Law in Canada needs to change. The pendulum has swung too far from centre. It’s not about the children any longer and is simply a cash cow for the receiving parent. Those who don’t pay, get away with it and those that do pay, pay an absurd amount.

    FMEP is just another cog in the wheel of child support frustration. A person receiving child support payments can enroll with FMEP for no reason at all. Why is that? Shouldn’t there need to be a reason for a third party to be involved before they can be involved? Remember, FMEP is a BUSINESS and secures their funding/profits through interest and late fees on child support payments. Of course they are going to issue these late fees and interest charges whenever they think they can. On two separate occasions, FMEP informed me I was delinquent on child support payments. Both of these occasions were false but it created a tremendous amount of stress and frustration for me to point out their wrongful ways.. Was this bullying by FMEP? You bet it was.

    Surely there is a savvy and smart lawyer out there that is able and willing to force change within the Family Law system. I have been in this ‘system’ for almost 20 years now and I can provide some insight as to what those changes should look like. It would start with accountability from the receiving parent. At present there is zero accountability.

    If you are that lawyer willing to make change, post a note in this thread with your contact information and I will connect with you.

    • Brad
      December 19, 2015 at 10:09 am

      Incorrect re: FMEP “securing profit through interest and late fees”. The government pays for the program, so employees are paid by taxes. If you were told you were delinquent, but we’re not, then you were probably paying your ex directly and she did not report the payments. The program does not benefit by people not being able to pay and they are not the “judge”. Sometimes the recipient is a greedy pain in the ass, sometimes the payor is an irresponsible, childish douche. Everything about separation and payments is difficult, and the program doesn’t seek to penalize payors because it’s a good time. If you feel that the amounts you are being asked to pay are unfair then……GO BACK TO COURT!!

      • DM
        December 19, 2015 at 1:09 pm

        Brad, FMEP is a business, plain and simple. They count on interest payments and late fees for funding.

        I think you missed the point I was trying to make. The Family Law system needs a complete overhaul. The amounts paid for child support are absurd and it has nothing to do with the welfare of the children. If it did, there would be accountability in place for the receiving parent. The tables only indicate how much a payor is ordered to pay but it says nothing about how that money is to be used. Until there is a change in the law, there isn’t much point going back to court now is there? That’s my point. We need changes!

        BOTH parents have a moral and financial responsibility to raise their children. The law as is, assumes the only person responsible financially is the payor. I have been witness to both sides of this law and with both females and males. Not once have I heard the receiving parents (again both male and female) indicate any arrears or increases will benefit their children. They always refer to these arrears or increases as ‘their’ money.

        I will put it out there once again. Surely there is a lawyer willing to take this on.

        • Lisa
          April 19, 2018 at 10:48 pm

          I would like to know why is your child support based on your gross pay? When I was working full time my gross was no where near my take home! So in the end your paying $300 of you $1000 cheque for child support? Guide lines for income vs. Support needs to be revamped.

  5. Sherwin Amaba
    March 24, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    I my self is a victim of FMEP for the last 12 years until now they got my license on hold and from that time my life was very hard they garnished my income taxes refund a long with my GST they confiscated my driver license I was so desperate to get help no one could help me that’s the time to apply for income assistant I got accepted but its not enough to support but cant complain about it its still help a bit to get a place to sleep. there’s time I think to end my life because I’m loosing hope to get my life fixes. I’ve been getting arrested of driving while prohibited ICBC is giving me fines for all my points for ticket come up almost 3,000 plus FMEP is asking me to pay 30,000 and still holding my license until I make a payment. I’m not a bad person and I have so much respect for everybody I got lots of knowledge and skills but if you are in this kind of situation its like your still alive but you don’t exist anymore my advise to others out there that have the same issues think positive don’t loose hope maybe miracle will happen some day and don’t forget to pray that’s the only thing we got to fight this hardship. thank you the opportunity to write my comment or my hardship situation on this pages.

  6. Doug N
    March 6, 2017 at 8:45 am

    I am being overcharged by FMEP. Have documents to prove it. Lawyers are afraid of fmep but like all of us I am desperate enough to represent myself in court. Where can I get the legal info to start fighting them in court?

  7. Al
    March 6, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    First thing is to understand the law you are planning to dispute. Family Law act and FMEP.
    It’s all on the internet if you take time to search for it.
    I have been there, done that. But you better be right or you’re just in for a world of hurt.
    Unfortunately children seem to get lost in this battle of wills and money. I am so happy to be done with it all.

  8. kimpossible6
    April 15, 2017 at 2:49 am

    My experience has been on both sides of the coin with FMEP. I left my husband of 16yrs ( our relationship became very abusive). I was a stay at home mom of 3 children. Never worked outside of the home. When i left I went on income assistance and was put in touch with a worker for FMEP. She decided that the ministry feared for my safety so declined to proceed with support. Now from what i’ve been reading FMEP cannot change an order only enforce it. Is that correct? If so, I never had an order for support. So is that the reason they maybe did not want to proceed? When you go on income assistance the ministry assumes your legal responsibility. Now flash forward 3yrs my husband passes away. No support order ever filed with FMEP. Now Im told I cannot collect any support from the estate because without an existing order for support the support debt dies with the debtor. Awesome huh because FMEP didn’t enforce my support rights I cannot get any arrears nothing. Now on the other shoe I met someone.We started living together. He had some past issues. He was married 3 children divorce order from 2000 states $900 a month support. He had a decent job at the time in Alberta. Well a few months after his divorce was final. Hi ex picked up and moved his 3 kids out of province. So he did what anyone would do he chased after them. Leaving his job and the income to pay support. So of course leaving every thing and coming to a new province. He was told by his ex to stay out of there lives. He spiraled out of control and never really got back until a couple years after we started seeing each other. He is a really good guy with a heart of gold. He has been working pretty steady the last 4-5 yrs. And has been paying towards arrears. They keep all his income tax, gst, he cannot get a drivers license that was taken by FMEP. Now he is being garnished every month $900 half of his paycheck. Until he pays $169,000 off. Can you believe that his ex can collect on a 20 yr old out of province order. And i cannot even collect a dime that I’m entitled to because they didn’t enforce my legal rights. And i don’t believe they ever had the authority to apply for a support order. And the best part the pension that I am entitled to can know be taken to pay that debt if FMEP so chooses. What are we supposed to do????

    • Al
      May 11, 2017 at 11:31 pm

      You should have done the same thing I’ve been telling my Daughter to do for the last 4 years. Get a court ordered child support document. Because without a legal binding court order you have nothing to enforce. Hence she receives no child support from a Deadbeat Dad and can do nothing about it.
      I’ve offered to pay for it and legal council to write it up. At the end of the day people cause their own pain, as harsh as that may sound. You probably knew at some point that there is a legal process to follow.
      FMEP enforces court ordered support, period. Not that I’m a fan of FMEP, been on the other side of it. But it is what it is.

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