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End-of-Life working group

The Supreme Court of Canada gave the federal government until February to rewrite the Criminal Code on physician-assisted suicide to align with its decision in Carter. Last summer, the former Conservative government set up a consultation panel called the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v Canada, which went on hiatus for the period of the election campaign and has now resumed hearings. Another group, the Provincial/Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying, is also holding consultations. The CBA has written to each group to say it strongly endorses a pan-Canadian approach, in line with the resolution passed at the August Council meeting in Calgary – a rewriting of the Criminal Code to comply with Carter, and harmonized provincial and territorial laws to give clear pathways for timely access to physician-assisted dying with procedural safeguards and oversight.

Violence against family law lawyers

Dear Family Law Section colleagues,

It has been a tough few weeks for family lawyers. We recently watched in horror as one of our own was seriously injured by someone who, apparently, held a grudge against her as a result of her work as a family law lawyer.

We have reached out to Maria Mitousis and our colleagues in Winnipeg who are extending support to her. On your behalf, the Section has sent her a card to let her know that she has our thoughts and best wishes.

I invite you as Family Law Section colleagues to support her if you so choose, through her Gofundme page. She will have a long road to recovery and like many of us, will be challenged by a long period of being unable to work.

At the same time as we extend support and wishes to Maria, we are reminded that we deal with people who may be in a very low point in their lives and people who struggle with mental illness. We won’t be paranoid, but we will be practical and vigilant.

Please read this note from our President, Michele Hollins, Q.C., echoing the CBA’s concerns as a whole. You may also want to read the OBA’s Personal Security Handbook and the CBA Alberta Branch’s more recent Personal Safety Handbook.

Would you kindly share this information in your firms and with your colleagues, so they are aware of our steps and the opportunity to support Maria, but also so they may have access to the resource material to audit their safety in their own practices.

Be safe everyone and let’s hope that this situation is never repeated. I hope to see many of you in Calgary this summer at the CLC.

Patricia Hébert
Chair, CBA Family Law Section

Gordon Zwaenepoel

CBA Young Lawyers International Program 2015-17

If you are aware of young lawyers who may be interested in applying for an international internship, please forward them the following link: http://www.cba.org/CBA/IDP/yiip/.

CBA E-News – April 2015

Family Law Section articles:

Drafting clauses to facilitate the enforcement of special or extraordinary expenses

When special or extraordinary expenses are not spelled out in child support orders, they are often unenforceable. Nathalie Morissette and Amanda Stuart, counsels with the federal Justice Department, provide tips on making sure there is clarity on what “hockey costs” or “daycare” expenses actually encompass.

Read more

Improving coordination of the family and criminal systems in cases of family violence

Claire Farid, a counsel with the federal Justice Department, writes about Making the Links in Family Violence Cases: Collaboration among the Family, Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems, a report that identifies the challenges that arise when family violence is a factor in a relationship breakdown, and details how some jurisdictions are dealing with them.

Read more

CBA legal health check helps answer clients’ questions about separation and divorce

Marital breakdown can be an intensely emotional time, even when both partners remain civil. That makes it all the more difficult to navigate the legal minefield that goes hand-in-hand with breaking up – issues ranging from the equitable sharing of assets to who gets custody of the family pet.

We think your clients whose marriages are ending would find it helpful to have a checklist of issues to consider and steps to take – a simple guide to follow when their worlds are crashing down.

The CBA has developed a series of legal health check cards to help these people, and to let them know when they should seek professional legal assistance. Let us know if you’d like some hard copies of these cards – one with tips for protecting assets, another about protecting the kids – or simply download the PDFs.

Each card has a space at the bottom for you to put a stamp or a label, identifying you or an appropriate community resource as a contact for more information. Knowledge is power. The more certainty you can give people in uncertain times, the better they can focus on what they need to do to protect themselves and their interests.

Knowing that a lawyer is giving them an easy guide to the questions to ask, and is ready to offer additional help when needed, provides a welcome sense of security.

We hope this will help you and your clients! Thank you for doing your part to support Equal Justice.

Download the PDFs

Not to be missed! New Resource for Family Lawyers!

Tax Matters Toolkit: The CBA Family Law Section has collaborated with Justice Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency and Finance Canada to develop the Tax Matters Toolkit. The Toolkit will help family law lawyers and their clients understand how tax rules might affect their future finances on separation or divorce. It explains the various credits, benefits and deductions, and will help you navigate and apply the often complex tax laws to the particular circumstances of your clients.

Tax Matters Toolkit: information to provide to your clients
Tax Matters Toolkit: for lawyers

CBA Sections: Children’s Law Committee

CBA Sections recently established a Children’s Law Committee to coordinate activities, provide advice, and respond to law, policy, and legal research developments on matters affecting Canadian children. More information is available on the new Children’s Law Committee webpage.

Join the Children’s Law Committee listserv!

Interested CBA members are strongly encouraged to join the Children’s Law Committee listserv. This is an ideal way to stay informed of Committee activities and get directly involved. The listserv also provides a forum to network and exchange ideas with leading practitioners who share your interests.
Membership is free to CBA members.

Join the listserv (CBA membership number required)

Member Resource

What happens next? Information for kids about separation and divorce

The Family, Children and Youth Section of the Department of Justice Canada has printed a limited number of 12-month calendars for children for each of the years 2014 and 2015. The calendar is a good companion piece to our popular children’s booklet “What happens next? Information for kids about separation and divorce”.

Children whose parents are separating or divorcing are often faced with new routines that can be overwhelming. We developed this calendar to help them adjust to new and challenging circumstances. These editions of the calendar have a few new illustrations and a new cover – all of which go with the popular illustrations that appear in the children’s booklet. These editions are printed in a bilingual (EN/FR) format.

We want to ensure that these calendars find their way to children whose parents are separating or divorcing, so we are distributing them, free of charge, to professionals who work most closely with those families. Each of you can order up to 10 copies. These will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until stock is depleted.

Please send your orders to Christine Turcotte at christine.turcotte@justice.gc.ca.

Please include the following information with your order:

  • name
  • professional designation (e.g. lawyer, judge, mediator) and name of law firm
  • mailing address
  • the number of copies requested for 2014 and for 2015 (maximum of 10 copies each year)

If you have any questions, please contact Christine Turcotte at 613-957-2787.

We would like to thank you for the opportunity to distribute this useful tool to children across Canada.

Member Resource

Paternity leave for lawyers in Canada – two solitudes

Quebec society and Quebec employers are doing something right, or at least something decidedly different, when it comes to paternity leave. That raises the questions: what are they doing, how can it be improved upon, and what can other jurisdictions do to emulate their successes?

View this article on CBA PracticeLink

Recent Submissions

Family law tax toolkit project
The Family Law Section recently made a submission to government on the topic of tax issues for family lawyers.

Read the submission.

Other Recent Submissions

More CBA Submissions


The latest edition of The Family Way is now available.


Professional Development

  • Missed a conference? See the Family Law Section PD archive or purchase course materials through the CBA Store.



  • Section Meeting, to be confirmed



The Section is currently looking for articles for its next newsletter. If you would like to contribute to the next edition, please contact us at CBA Newsletters.

Past issues of The Family Way can be found on the Newsletter page.



  • Law and practice relating to the family unit, relations between members of the family and the family and society, and matters related there to; and
  • the establishment, jurisdiction, procedure and organization of courts and other tribunals dealing with these matters and the practice of lawyers before such courts and tribunals.

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