Deadbeat parents owe $2 billion in unpaid support
Published Monday, August 26, 2013 6:40PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 27, 2013 3:03PM EDT
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the amount of money recovered by the Family Responsibility Office.
The Ontario government is falling behind requests to collect payments from so-called "deadbeat" parents who owe billions in unpaid child support.
CTV News has learned that 135,000 support payment cases are in arrears, with a total of $2 billion in payments outstanding. That figure has grown by $500 million in the past three years.
Ontario's Family Responsibility Office (FRO), which enforces child-support payment collections, started a website designed to shame parents into paying up.
While the FRO has collected $6.1 billion in 10 years, success with the special website has been limited, however. The FRO's Good Parents Pay website has only managed to collect $470,000 over the past seven years from 62 parents.
At least one Tory MPP said the government should do more to collect the money.
"Get a collection agency to do it," Conservative MPP Peter Shurman told CTV Toronto. "Chances are you’ll do better."
Shurman said nearly 60 per cent of calls to his constituency office are from parents trying to get support payments and that fixing the FRO should be a top priority.
The FRO has the ability to garnish wages, suspend passports and drivers' licences and even take so-called 'deadbeat' parents to court.
Shurman says the FRO is understaffed and uses computers that are decades old.
"We're talking about a huge deficiency of people to manage cases … it means that kids aren't eating," Shurman said.
Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin said that the FRO has been a challenge for successive governments over the years.
"Most parents meet their support obligations," McMeekin said in a statement. "Some parents hide assets and block FRO’s attempts to enforce court orders. Approximately one third are in default of the court order."
The "Good Parents Pay" website posts the names and pictures of individuals who have not made support payments for at least six months and cannot be found.
Anyone who has information can contact the FRO through the website, or by phone, fax, or mail.
With report from CTV Toronto's Paul Bliss