Bingo Prizes may be Seized

Bingo Prizes may be Seized

In efforts to ensure enforcement of child support and spousal support awards, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has added Bingo winnings over $1,000 to its list of lottery or gaming wins that may be seized to satisfy outstanding support obligations. The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) is responsible in Ontario for tabulating and enforcing child support and spousal support orders and support terms found in Separation Agreements if filed with the Court.

All winners of a prize in the amount of $1,000 or more will need to provide their contact information such as their name, address and social insurance number to the establishment running the Bingo. This information will be sent to the FRO so that it can check its records and ensure that there are no outstanding child support or spousal support arrears owing.

If it is found that the winner owes child support or spousal support arrears, the prize will not be paid to the winner. Instead, the prize money will be deposited with the OLG. The funds will be released to the winner only after he or she has satisfied the FRO requirements, which in most situations will mean paying the child support or spousal support arrears owing.

For winners who think that they can refuse to provide their information to the Bingo hall and so avoid this process, note that the Bingo hall has no flexibility in this area. All winners of $1,000 or more will have their winnings deposited into the OLG account until further information is received from FRO informing the OLG that it has been satisfied.

For more information on this issue, visit: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/familyResponsibility/Enforcement/lottery.aspx

Parents and grandparents, revisited

We finally have news regarding the government’s intentions for parents and grandparents waiting to be sponsored by their relatives in Canada. Last Friday, at the annual general meeting of the Canadian Bar Association’s Immigration Section, the Minister issued a news release describing the government’s plans. It was well timed, during a session on family class sponsorship.

The government announced a temporary pause on the sponsorship of parents and grandparents in November, 2011. The intention was to tackle a growing backlog in this category, leading to processing times of three to five years.

To lessen the harsh impact of the temporary pause, the government introduced a “supervisa” program, allowing parents and grandparents potential access to a 10 year multiple entry visa, as long as they are healthy, as long as their relatives in Canada could show sufficient income to support them, and as long as a visa officer believed that they would not overstay their status.   The government reports that over 15000 supervisas have been issued since the launch of the program.

The government’s announcement last week made the supervisa program permanent. Further, at the expected re-launch of the program on January 2, 2014, the following changes are expected to be made:

- lengthening the duration of the sponsorship undertaking from 10 years to 20 years (the government believes there is a high degree of sponsorship default after 10 years);

- increasing the amount of income to be shown by a sponsor from the current Low Income Cut Off to the current Low Income Cut Off amount plus 30%;

- lengthening the period required for the sponsor to demonstrate sufficient income from the year prior to the application, to three years prior to the application;

- limiting the type of evidence of income to be submitted by a sponsor to Canada Revenue Agency documents.

These measures will greatly reduce the number of eligible parents and grandparents to be sponsored to Canada, and change the nature of the types of Canadian families who are eligible to sponsor. This is the stated intention of the government,  which states in its news release “The PGP (parent and grandparent) program generates costs to Canadian taxpayers as PGPs are unlikely to engage in paid employment or to become financially independent when in Canada.”

Parents and grandparents do, however, contribute in many economic and non-economic ways to Canada’s social and economic well being. They watch grandchildren, allowing the parents of children in two income households to work while avoiding high daycare costs. They also enrich the lives of Canadian families culturally and linguistically, instilling a sense of history and culture into the Canadian relatives with whom they reunite.

As with many other sweeping changes made to Canada’s immigration system made by this government, it is very much uncertain whether Canada’s long term future will be served by changes to the sponsorship criteria for parents and grandparents.