Kootenay Columbia MP Wayne Stetski spoke out in parliament recently, highlighting a regulatory loophole that in some cases forces victims of domestic abuse to get the signature of their abuser in order to receive government benefits.
On Friday, May 19th Stetski brought the issue up in question period in Ottawa, saying one of his Kootenay Columbia constituents was unable to collect the federal child care benefit without getting her abusive partner to formally sign off on a piece of paper confirming that she has sole custody of the couple’s child.
“It’s a terribly unfortunate situation,” Stetski told the Echo. “It is absolutely inappropriate in every aspect. We were quite concerned.”
The constituent brought in a letter from the Canada Revenue Agency (which is in charge of distributing the child care benefit) asking her to confirm her eligibility for the benefit, and it was this letters that required the signature of her partner.
Stetski told the Echo that theoretically there are other options for those receiving the benefit to confirm their sole caregiver status, such as affidavit from a social worker, but that none of those avenues were open to his constituent.
“It’s not the only example, this a not a one-off,” he said, adding the problem has also come up in other ridings.
Although no formal response has come from the federal government as a result of Stetski’s efforts, he has been pleased by the government’s action so far, saying that the relevant minister met with him immediately after question period on May 19th and promised to delve into the matter.
“I’m glad to see they are taking it seriously,” he said.
Stetski encouraged other Kootenay Columbia residents who are experiencing problems dealing with the government to approach his office, saying he’s happy to be their voice in the House of Commons.