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Deadbeat parents lose licences

CBC, Jan 24 2005

CHARLOTTETOWN - The province has begun revoking the driver's licences of some parents who don't make child support payments.

The government has had the power to revoke licences from delinquent parents for a decade, but just began to exercise that power a few months ago.

One Island woman is wondering why the province took so long to act. She has a 14-year-old son, and she supported him on her own for the first few years. But in 1995 she went to provincial Maintenance Enforcement to force the boy's father to help out.

The court ordered him to pay $250 a month, but some months the father paid nothing. Maintenance Enforcement has gone back to the courts a few times. The father pays a bit, then stops.

P.E.I. has one of the worst records in the country for forcing delinquent spouses to pay up. The mother was shocked to learn the province has had the power to revoke driver's licences for 10 years, but hadn't used it until recently.

"It probably would have helped, seeing he's in construction and he's all over the Island all the time," she says.

"He needs his driver's licence for work. If they had of enforced it, he probably would have paid."

Debbie Conway, provincial director of Maintenance Enforcement in P.E.I. since 1988, doesn't know or won't say why revoking licenses wasn't done in the past, or why it's suddenly been done three times in the past few months.

"Some cases have substantial arrears that it's going to be used more frequently," says Conway.

The mother says her ex-husband is $9,000 in arrears on his child support payments. The father questions that amount, although he's not sure how much he owes.

He is paying $25 a month on that outstanding bill. The mother says at that rate her son will be 44 years old by the time the debt is paid off.

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