New Crown agency to support family maintenance services
The B.C. government is establishing a new Crown agency to oversee the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP).
Effective on or before Oct. 31, the provision of family maintenance services will transition from a contracted service provider to the newly created Crown agency. This change will ensure that family maintenance enforcement services for vulnerable British Columbians continue uninterrupted, said a May 13 Ministry of Attorney General media release.
“The old model was criticized in 2017 by the auditor general as based on a problematic contract tendering process – a process that resulted in a contract that was about to expire after 10 years of failed negotiations, creating uncertainty about the future of this vital program,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “This new Crown agency will build a foundation for services that are predictable and sustainable for vulnerable families, and make it easier to add new services in the future.”
The agency will work directly with government to support the goals of increasing access to justice and delivering services to British Columbians in a people-focused way. It will also help improve the process for developing legislation and policies that achieve these goals.
Families who rely on the program will continue to receive the services the same way they do now under the contracted service provider and will not be impacted by the transfer of operations.
When transition to the agency is complete, the program will be renamed the Family Maintenance Program, putting the focus on provision of services to help families.
Since its inception in 1988-89, $4.1 billion has been paid through FMEP to over 140,000 families and children, who might not otherwise have received support payments.
The payment rate on all cases is approximately 92%.
About 70,000 parents are currently enrolled in the FMEP.
The media release did not outline how much this new Crown agency will cost taxpayers.