The Ontario government posts the pictures and personal details of debtors who have skipped out on numerous support payments to spouses and children.
The Ontario government posts the pictures and personal details of debtors who have skipped out on numerous support payments to spouses and children.

Photograph by:
Good Parents Pay website, Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services

A woman who has spent 12 years chasing her ex-boyfriend through the courts for child support payments says Saskatchewan should look at publishing deadbeat parents' pictures and names on a government website.

Both the Alberta and Ontario governments have websites bearing the pictures, names, descriptions and last-known jobs and addresses of parents and spouses who have repeatedly ignored court orders to hand over support payments. Users can click a button below each picture to submit anonymous tips if they know where the person lives or works.

Saskatoon woman Rita (not her real name, as her family's identity is subject to a publication ban) says such a website could be one more tool to help authorities track people who switch jobs, change addresses or skip the province or country to avoid making court-ordered payments.

"When a child is not being financially or emotionally supported, it does affect them," Rita says of her 16-year-old daughter.

"Is it humiliation and shame?" she says of publishing debtors' names and pictures. "(It's OK) if that's what it takes to get the parent to step up to the plate."

Saskatchewan Justice's maintenance enforcement office is a voluntary service that will track down and transfer court-ordered payments such as child support funds.

Justice Minister Don Morgan says the office works well enough that it has recently expanded to track people who owe other court-ordered fines, and in the future, will track and collect restitution orders -- such as when a judge orders a vandal to pay back a property owner.

Saskatchewan's maintenance enforcement officers gather 85 per cent of the money owed to their clients, according to the ministry, which Morgan says is the second-best collection rate in Canada after Quebec.

If the debtor won't make payments to the office voluntarily, officers can contact employers and garnish wages or money from bank accounts. They can report the person to the credit bureau, seize or put a lien on property, suspend a driver's licence or vehicle registration, or ask a judge to hold the debtor in contempt of court for defying the orders.

Morgan says the system is working "in most cases."

However, if a person moves or changes jobs without telling anyone, or is unemployed, the individual becomes difficult to track, especially if that move is out of province or country, Morgan says. There are interprovincial and international agreements to track down debtors, but every jurisdiction is different.

Rita chose a different route than maintenance enforcement. Her ex-boyfriend was ordered by a judge to register with the program, but he never did.

Believing the family court system was faster and more effective, she estimates she's paid $10,000 in legal fees over 12 years trying to get repeated court orders enforced. As of July, she is owed $5,288 in outstanding support payments, plus an orthodontist's bill for her daughter that the father said he'd pay for, then didn't.

Meanwhile, the father, who has lived in Saskatoon all along, works full-time in the construction industry, she says. His wife is employed, and they have no children at home. "He knows how to flout the system."

The court system isn't holding him accountable, Rita says -- three bench warrants for his arrest, and 12 court dates later, she is not receiving monthly payments, and the man has never been arrested.

Either the courts need to get tougher, or the system of holding debtors accountable needs to improve, Rita says.

"I can't really rely on that money, and I've never really relied on it," the full-time professional says. "When does the court finally say, 'We're going to put you in jail?' "

Jay O'Neill, a spokesperson for Alberta Justice, says that province has posted profiles of deadbeat debtors since 2000, and this May, revamped the website to organize debtors by region. The "Debtors Wanted!" page says tips from the public have helped the government locate 227 of the 384 listed debtors during the past nine years. But since May, O'Neill says, traffic to the site has soared, and tips have helped the government find 20 more debtors in just two months.

"Anything that we can do to get the child support payments and spousal support on time, we should be doing that for the benefits of these kids," O'Neill said.

The department also had the blessing of Alberta's privacy commissioner before its 2000 launch.

The website isn't for everyone who misses a payment -- just the "bad guys" who have dodged being found by every other means, O'Neill says. Whether Saskatchewan should follow suit is up to officials in this province, he says.

"I think each jurisdiction has to look at how they want to go out getting these debtors -- it's just one (method) we have found success with."

Morgan says Saskatchewan's philosophy is different: It tries to track the money, not the people. He says he'd like to know how successful Alberta and Ontario are at getting payments handed over using these websites.

"It's something we would not rule out," Morgan said, adding he'll be asking his staff to look into the sites' effectiveness.

A better tool, he argues, has been striking an arrangement with the federal government, who will garnish support owed from federal tax returns and GST payments -- if the individuals don't already owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency. It's been a "wake-up call" to debtors who moved provinces to avoid payments, Morgan says.

Morgan also questions whether a person's appearance on a website would prompt them to hand over cash, when most are already flouting the law.

But Rita, the mom who's tried everything to keep tabs on her ex, says the public exposure will make a difference.

"If he would have been put on the website, somebody would have recognized him, and said, 'Hey, you know what? I know where he is.' "

Whether it's a website, or a justice system with sharper teeth, Rita says the government has to change something to stop bad debtors hiding in government and jurisdictional blind spots.

"This guy owes me $5,000 and we've got a system that is not taking this seriously."

MEO Payor
July 29, 2009 - 11:25 AM
There is an comment made in the article that is not addressed. "Rita" can not use her real name as it is subject to a publication ban. If, then, a website is created to publish the names/pictures of "deadbeat" support payors, would this not violate the publication ban imposed by the courts?
A concerned on-looker
July 29, 2009 - 10:45 AM
The whole family justice system needs revamping. The only ones getting rich here are the lawyers. I know a single dad who has tried for many years to get child maintenance. The mom uses the system and lawyers however she can to stall and change focus. You never get the same judge so he doesn't know the history so doesn't see thru her tactics. Dad has now given up because of the cost. If he keeps going to court it'll cost way more than what he'll ever receive in payments (if he even collects) so the end result is not worth it (which is what mom counts on)! What is being spent by the custodial parent could be being banked for education! By the way this mom sees the child all the time but has never contributed one cent to the schooling, clothing, sports or anything else!! I say a maintenance order should be the very first thing dealt with on the very first lawyer or court visit and it should not be as costly or drawn out as it usually ends up being!
July 29, 2009 - 9:59 AM

How about creating a website and posting the pictures of the thousands of women who defrauded MEO and the men that have had to pay?

Mike Murphy
July 29, 2009 - 8:39 AM
In Canada at least 90% of children after divorce are in the custody of the mom. Why is that? If 90% of an ethnic minority or indeed females were excluded from a job or an activity or a club for no reason other than their ethnicity or gender there would be a stink bigger than Trawna's putrid garbage. Statistically speaking the vast minority of women who don't have custody are proportionately bigger deadbeats than men. We see a lot of vitriolic comments from moms disparaging their ex's but what role do they play in this. Did they act as gatekeepers or alienators of the children which encourages a NC Parent to walk away out of frustration. This issue isn't as black and white as painted. If we are going to have public humiliation why not also bring back public flogging for deadbeat moms and dads. Why not have a deadbeat site for moms denying access and/or alienating their children. Studies clearly show most men who do not pay on an up-to-date basis cannot do so because they don't have the money. All articles like this do is vilify all men as dead beats and serves to empower and engender entitlements to moms, which encourages more divorce. Seventy five percent of divorces in Canada are initiated by the wife. Why - because they clearly know they can get all these entitlements, plus the children, plus the government cheques + indirectly control their ex and not have to actually work for a living. I was a stay-at-home-dad for 10 years and actually worked from home and could balance my day over 16 hours keeping the focus on the children. Shared and equal parenting may eliminate these problems and women will finally get the opportunity to get a better job, get retrained or go back to school. Focus should be on getting people productive not public shaming. Lets get bill c-422 passed and treat every one equally not just one gender.
Support Paying Dad
July 29, 2009 - 1:04 AM
Deadbeat Dads... glad I ain't one of them. Haven't missed a payment in 13 years since I started making them. They are my children, I wanted them as much as their mother did. I take responsibility. I wonder how much of a difference it would make to getting more dads paying regularily if the payee was able to collect a tax credit on his personal income tax for a percentage of what he/she pays in support to the Prime Custody parent. A 10% tax credit for me would have meant approx a $1,200.oo credit in 2006, my most costly year of payments. At the same time, the tax laws that affect those that receive payments stays status quo, that being they do not report it as income. I realize this move would cost the Feds some coin, but would it not be worth it for the Feds to maybe have to take a hit on the chin financially if it made for less stress for the kids and a better finacial system the mothers could count on to raise all around healthier children? Would the tax hit be worth it? Would introducing such a program buy or cost votes? I don't know, just throwing it out there.
What About Access Enforcement?
July 28, 2009 - 10:19 AM
Yes, I agree, maintenance needs to be enforced if it is the duty of the non-custodial parent to pay. However, what about access enforcement? For those of you who haven't taken a trip through the Family Law system before, access is the non-custodial parents time spent with the children. What about fathers and mothers who are paying support, whether enforced or not, and are kept from their kids? We are talking about good parents being declined relationships with their children. Access and support are the two most contentious areas of family law, we have a free program to take care of support, but in order to enforce access, you have to go to court. Where is the rate of access enforcement in Don Morgan's last annual report? Even if a court orders an access agreement, mothers and fathers continually break them, do some research on how many time these parents are found in contempt of court. Why don't we post the pictures of mothers and fathers who didn't let the other parent see the children? There would be an uproar. Let's not forget that kids who have to live through there terrible disputes, and are faced with parental alienation have far higher rates of drug abuse, school problems, run-ins with the law and a whole host of other problems later on in life. Support payments can be made up in other ways (child tax benefits, welfare, or numerous other ways). I don't agree that a mother or father needs to use these things to make up for a non-compliant parent, but the fact is that a child is much better off with a parent that doesn't pay than no parent at all.
July 28, 2009 - 10:08 AM
It's good to hear from a couple of men here, JD and Jr. It's not always the dads. I know of a mom, I don't like calling her that, she doesn't deserve the title, who milked and raked the system as well as the father of her son. He never saw any of the money that was given to her. In fact, when the son wasn't even living with her and he still had to pay child support through maintenance. Is that true even if the son wasn't living with her? They told the father that he still had to, unless he went to court to change it. It would have cost thousands to do that, so what do you do?
July 28, 2009 - 1:02 AM

I made a comment yesterday that never made it into print. I would like to know a dollar figure of the maintenance payments in arrears in this province. It is relevant to this subject. The parents trying to negotiate fair support for their kids need to know what they are up against. I ended up working 2 jobs and went to school. I wasn't looking for a "wallet" I never expected a penny for myself and the mere pittance that was paid did not cover the bus passes needed by my kids to get to school.The stress and the poverty ruined the health of more than one person involved. This is a critical issue!!

July 28, 2009 - 12:49 AM

To the editors. It's unfortunate that when you edit our comments you leave out the most important information leaving behind sentences that make no sense. If you need to cut material - please at least ensure that the comments left are at the very least, complete thoughts. Ditto for the punctuation.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Our apologies, Marilyn. We had to edit your comment for legal reasons. However, when we do this, we try to keep the flow in tact. It should read more smoothly now.

July 27, 2009 - 11:10 PM
I just don't understand how any parent can deny their own children whether it is the father or the mother it is just wrong. Don't you realize that you are hurting your children and one day when you snap back into reality and want to have a relationship with your child or perhaps see your grandchildren they will think back to the times that you were not their to support them and they may think twice about this. REALLY how can you just walk out of your child's life?? they are you own flesh & blood. What if you parent did the same thing to you, how would you feel? I think parents need to realize if you have a grudge or hatred towards the other parent that is fine but do not punish your own child. They did not ask to be bought into this world you made the decision to have them. I know of so many dead beat parents & I am very fortunate to have two wonderful parents who support me & are always their for me when I need someone to talk to. Don't you think your lives would be much happier if you had a good relationship with your children? So why not make the change today, it is never to late to step up to the plate and take responsibility for your children you would probably feel better about yourself and your child may actually believe you really do care about them. Parent's need to stop being so selfish & realize the kids are the ones being punished!!
July 27, 2009 - 11:06 PM

How bout a website that shows gold digging mothers so guys can avoid getting themselves into this situation. I know personally that my child support payment rarely trickles down to my child, the whole current system is a joke.

July 27, 2009 - 8:00 PM
What about the moms who receive the payments yet they dump the kids off on the father for 80% of the time. The father is paying child support to the mom and she never has them. Now do you call that justice? I am speaking about my brother in law in BC. His ex had a drug and alcohol addiction and all he is doing is feeding it for her,. The BC government will not do anything for him but he continues to pay. Family buys the kids the clothes, not the mother.
July 27, 2009 - 6:52 PM
If the split was 50/50 there would be no dead beat anything. The courts have a knack of empowering one side. I think that is because advisarial relationships always are about power and money.
July 27, 2009 - 6:01 PM
way to be! no one will know if a parnet will be a dead beat. like everyone else says DONT judge! get the facts first thanx
July 27, 2009 - 5:39 PM
well i hear all the dissed moms, dads, and kids out there, I have 2 boys, both have deadbeat dads in different ways, My oldest, his dad sends in a years worth of cheques to the MEO and i get them biweekly, but he never calls, never returns my sons calls or emails, i gave up, his new wife and daughter are more important then my beautiful child, or to include him in their lives. My youngest, his dad is deadbeat all the way around, MEO has suspended his license, garnished wages, he pays sometimes voluntarily, other times, 2000 accumulates before something shows up, like right now for instance, nothing has shown up this month at all, 130 a month for 8 years, i have never gone to have it re evaluated as i know he makes more now, why bother when i cant even get the 130, i would be happy with bi weekly payments if it works better for that man, but nope, so my youngest goes without, anything but an occasional spotting of his sperm donor when we run into him somewhere, he too has another son that is his pride and joy, and shows no interested in my son. But i prayed for a long time, and God sent me a man to look after my boys, the day i married him, he too took vows with my sons to be their protector, provider, to make our home a safe haven full of fun and laughter, as response to D - some of these men made promises to us, said they would be there, they didnt hesitate to stuck it out and now cant and dont want to deal with the consequences of their hips, how is that fair to the women who bear their children and are there everyday to fix a boo boo, make a meal, dry the tears, wash the clothes, take them out to play, and they miss out on all of it and do they care? no they just make a new baby with somone else and start over. I am perfectly happy to have them remain on the outside, pay their support and leave the drama out. I know it hurts, but it is better in the long run, my boys are better off with their step dad, and his family, we are now complete and my husbands family is completely accepting of my boys and love them as their own. I think the website is an amazing idea, humilate the deadbeat parents out there, stick it to them, and let them hang themselves.