Thursday, August 10, 2006

Value for money? Which deadbeat are you happy with?

Ombudsman Rips Family Responsibility Office
Ontario’s Ombudsman, André Marin, released a scathing report today on the province’s Family Responsibility Office (FRO).The agency is charged with enforcing child support orders in the province and, Marin found, is fundamentally failing to do its job.Here are a few facts and quotes from Marin’s press conference.
Support payment arrears are at an “all-time historical high” of $1.35 billion because of the agency’s “lackadaisical” attitude toward collection.
Welfare payments are up $200 million as a consequence and “dead beats in this province have been having a free ride on the backs the citizens of Ontario,” he said.
Just 70 per cent of the 185,000 support orders filed annually with the office are compliant, which the FRO defines as someone who pays at least 85 per cent of order. Marin found one instance where a prison inmate was deemed to be “compliant” because he was in no position to pay, and thus took the agency’s numbers “with a grain of salt.”
When confronted with specific problems, FRO offered “platitudinous excuses or outright evasions,” Marin said.“I can tell you for the last decade it has been the bane of existence for overseers in this province,” he said.“It has been a money pit for the government and it has been the source of immense frustration for those receiving child support payments.”“We need to fix this and put it to rest once and for all,” Marin said.

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