Canada’s child support system has reached a new peak, with nearly three million children now on their parent’s books.
The numbers of orders for child support from different provinces are now nearly twice as high as they were in 2008, the latest figures show.
The new data show that a whopping 40 per cent of the more than 1.3 million orders received by child support agencies in the province of Ontario in the past 12 months are for the benefit of children in the care of a single parent.
In Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, that number is almost twice as much.
Ontario’s child welfare agency, Ontario Family Support, says it has seen more than 6,000 orders for children under 18 since June 1, while Quebec’s agency, Quebec Child Support Services, has received more than 7,000.
Ontario Family Support says the high number of orders means it has been overwhelmed by calls and e-mails from parents who are seeking help with their children’s needs.
“The overwhelming majority of the orders that we are receiving today are for children who are under the age of 18 years,” said spokesperson Laura Lappin.
Ontario’s Ministry of Social Development and the Child and Family Services Agency of Ontario say they have received more requests for help than ever. “
If the family does not have sufficient income or assets, they may not be able to pay their child supports.”
Ontario’s Ministry of Social Development and the Child and Family Services Agency of Ontario say they have received more requests for help than ever.
They say there are nearly 5,000 cases of non-compliance on the file, but have only recently begun to review them.
“We are very much aware that we have a high demand for support for children and we need to be able get the support that we need,” said Diane Jervis, a social services worker with the Child Care Services Agency, which handles child support cases for children from low-income families.
Child support orders are generally divided up by income level and the size of the household, and include some sort of financial support or financial assistance, such as cash assistance.
Families who have children who qualify for support can apply to have their payments paid to the parent, but the rules for who gets priority are unclear.
The family’s income level may vary, or the child’s age may limit the child support payments.
Some provinces allow for a certain number of children to be in the same household, or families to share a child with a relative or foster parent, while others only allow a certain amount of children per household.
While there are still no clear rules for how many children a parent or child can be supporting, the numbers have doubled since the 2008 peak, according to the Child Support Agency of Manitoba.
In 2009, the agency received 6,743 child support applications.
Jervis said there are about 2.2 million children in Manitoba’s care, with about half of those in care of single parents.
“There is an enormous amount of families that are not doing well,” she said.
“They need help, but they are also asking us for help.”
The agency has been in operation since the late 1990s and has since expanded its caseload to cover families that can’t afford their own child care, but still qualify for child care subsidies.
But it’s difficult to tell how many families are in need of help, given the complexity of the issue.
The agency says it needs more money for its caseworkers to help with those families.
In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Child and Adolescent Welfare Services of Manitoba said it had not seen a spike in cases.
The government agency also says it is working to expand its services in the meantime, but says there are no plans to increase its caseleted area.
According to the Department of Children and Family Development, more than 4.4 million children are in care in Canada, or about 13 per cent.
The department says it’s working on a plan to expand services to cover all children in need.
More from The Globe and a few other stories:Ontario Child Support Service says it received more calls from parents seeking help than any other agency in the country.
It has received almost 9,000 calls for help, while in Quebec, the same agency received nearly 5.5 million.
Ontia Family Support has received nearly 8,000 child support requests since June.
Child Care Service of Manitoba says it hasn’t seen a jump in caselands since the height of the 2008 crisis.
In a statement, the Child & Adolescent Services Agency says it does not track the number of cases of the non-payment of child support, but adds that “in most cases the caselasses and their family are well-supported.”
The agency’s caselastes are the person or person’s partner or child care worker, who usually is responsible for child-care and support obligations for a child under 18 years old.