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The Canadian Bar Association
The Family Way – The CBA National Family Law Section Newsletter

Mediating from a distance
By Eugene Raponi, Q.C.
In my practice, and I think this is common for most of my colleagues, mediation has become the preferred way of resolving family law disputes. Unfortunately, mediation in its traditional application – face to face meetings – is largely restricted to urban or suburban settings.

Interviewing children: A methodology for views of the child reports
By John-Paul Boyd
I’ve been preparing lay views of the child reports for the last four years or so. Although these reports seem to have value for everyone involved, their strengths and limitations are not widely understood and significant questions about their evidentiary utility remain unanswered. In this article, I will continue the tradition and focus instead on the mechanics of my process.

Saint John, N.B. family court pilot project
By Sheila Cameron
In February 2008, New Brunswick Justice Minister Thomas J Burke, Q.C., appointed the “Access to Family Justice Task Force,” chaired by Mr. Justice Raymond Guerette. The task force was given a mandate to recommend ways to improve access to the family court and generally to make recommendations to improve service to the public. 

Department of Justice Canada: New SSAG publications
By Lise Lafrenière-Henrie
The National Family Law Section, in their submission to Justice on the SSAG, noted that educating lawyers on how to use the SSAG was going to be important to its ultimate success. In response to this, Justice Canada commissioned two other documents to help educate lawyers on the use of the SSAG.

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines: Don’t get lost in the range or in the details
By Scott Booth
In preparing structured arguments to direct where awards should be within the SSAG range, too often there is a tendency to gravitate to the middle of the range and not provide the analysis required to apply the SSAG appropriately.

Shared custody and the Canada Child Tax Benefit
Canada Revenue Agency
When parents separate or divorce, the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) may be an important consideration when determining child support. However, provisions of the Income Tax Act, not the rules of family law, determine an individual’s eligibility for the CCTB.

Information on Air Canada’s Unaccompanied Minor program
Air Canada
The program ensures that unaccompanied children are escorted by airline staff from the moment they arrive at airport check-in until they reach their destination.

Reflections from the Past Chair
By Grant W. Gold
With the first quarter of 2011 behind us, I thought it might be appropriate for me to jot down some thoughts looking back on my time as Chair of the CBA Family Law Section.

 

Mediating from a distance

By Eugene Raponi, Q.C.

In my practice, and I think this is common for most of my colleagues, mediation has become the preferred way of resolving family law disputes. Unfortunately, mediation in its traditional application – face to face meetings – is largely restricted to urban or suburban settings.

In British Columbia and throughout Canada generally there are many small, remote communities isolated by distance, by geography and by weather. The population in BC is sparsely distributed, with about 67% of the communities having 10,000 or fewer residents. Yet these communities represent less than 10% of the BC's total population. The people in these communities do not have ready access to family mediators or other family justice services.

In 2007, with funding from the Law Foundation of British Columbia, a pilot project –ultimately dubbed the Distance Mediation Project – was established by the BC Mediator Roster Society to look into this very issue. The Project’s mandate was to "explore the feasibility of providing British Columbians in remote, non-urban areas with access to competent, qualified family mediators through the use of information and communication technologies."

I was lucky enough to be involved as one of the pilot project mediators in Phase II. Phase I of the project involved research into the applicability of current technologies to long-distance family mediation. Under Phase II, which operated from May of 2009 to February 2010, families in small (population of 10,000 and under), sometimes remote communities around the province were provided with access to qualified family mediators who were located elsewhere in the province with the help of information and communication technologies (ICT’s).

The project defined ICT’s as a range of electronic communication tools – including regular landline and cell phones, teleconferencing, videoconferencing, e-mail, text messaging, custom text based applications, and web conferencing. While the project was small (with only 31 family mediations initiated and 23 concluded), a significant amount was learned about delivering mediation services from a distance:

  • There was a significant level of demand
  • The respondents were largely satisfied with the process -- even those unsatisfied with the mediation outcome
  • Mediators preferred platforms that had a multipoint video capacity for role plays
  • In "real life," however, the more common and readily available tools (telephone, teleconferencing, e-mail and document sharing my e-mail attachment) were the technologies that were chosen for use by the parties in all but one of the 23 cases
  • The Pilot Mediators were unanimously pleased with their distance mediation experience

My experience as a mediator in the Project mirrored those findings. I conducted two distance mediations, one involving a couple in northwestern B.C. and the other a family that lived in northern Vancouver Island. I was able to get the agreement to mediate signed by an exchange of emails and faxes. Pre-mediation meetings were conducted by telephone and the mediations by conference call. When I suggested using more sophisticated web-based communication tools, I found real reluctance: the respondents did not always have access to high speed Internet and they wanted to stick with a technology that was familiar. The advantage was that the mediations focused on the issues and not the technology.

Safety screening, rapport-building and fact-finding over the telephone was very straight forward. In fact, I found the parties more business-like and focused; there wasn't as much in the way of social niceties that occur in face to face meetings -you can't offer someone a coffee when they're a thousand miles away. Dealing with people in small communities was a pleasant change of pace, as well. On one occasion, when one of the parties didn't show for the conference call mediation, we adjourned so that the missing person could be tracked down and we resumed within a half-hour.

We were able to reach consensus in both mediations. The time taken to reach agreement was about the same – maybe even less – than it would have taken in the traditional manner.

It was an eye-opening experience.

In addition to the evaluation report, the project participants compiled a set of suggested practice guidelines for delivering distance mediation, entitled Mediating from a Distance. As that publication puts it, the guidelines were not meant to be "exhaustive, and represent merely the team’s ‘toe-dip’ of experience".

All of the publications – the original research report, Closing the Distance with Technology, the evaluation report, The Evaluation of the Distance Mediation Project, and the suggested practice guidelines – are available on the Mediate BC web site.

The project is currently in Phase III, having obtained further funding to test the delivery of the knowledge-based family mediation services in a broader, longer-term, province-wide project. I'm happy to report that I'll be involved as a project mediator in that new phase, as well.

Eugene Raponi, Q.C. is a lawyer and mediator and a former Chair of the CBA National Family Law Section. His law firm is Waddell Raponi, located in Victoria.

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Interviewing children: A methodology for views of the child reports

By John-Paul Boyd

I’ve been preparing lay views of the child reports for the last four years or so. Although these reports seem to have value for everyone involved, their strengths and limitations are not widely understood and significant questions about their evidentiary utility remain unanswered. In this article, I will continue the tradition and focus instead on the mechanics of my process.

The key difference between my views of the child reports and those prepared by experts is simple: I’m not an expert. As such, I’m not qualified to offer an opinion about the child’s experience of the conflict between his or her parents, the healthfulness of the child’s home environment or whether the child’s emotional distance from a parent is the product of alienation. What I do is basic reportage; I give children a neutral and confidential space to talk about their home life, their parenting arrangements and their satisfaction with those arrangements, and produce a summary of their comments.

My process begins when I am contacted by counsel, the court or a parent. The calls I get from lawyers usually come in the context of a pending hearing or following the making of an order that a report be prepared. The calls I get from the court are usually made during a break in a case conference. Parents usually call after receiving a judge’s strong suggestion that a report be prepared.

At this point, I warn the caller about the limitations of my reports, specifically that I won’t be offering diagnoses, opinions or recommendations in my report and that I won’t be probing for any underlying psychological issues. Assuming the caller isn’t dissuaded from my services, we then talk about cost (I offer my services at a deep discount for Provincial Court litigants but usually bill by the hour for Supreme Court matters), the imminence of the next hearing and the date when my report will be due.

Within the next few days, I will have a brief, ten to twenty minute telephone conversation with each of the parents. I use these discussions to collect a basic family history and get a rough sense of the parent’s perspective on the dispute and the purpose of the upcoming hearing, and to answer any questions. I also try to make arrangements for the delivery of the children to my office (by an agreed third-party if possible) and the timing of the interviews (I prefer not to interview siblings back to back but have them brought alone on different days).

My interviews are fairly unstructured, except for a few set pieces at the beginning and end. I begin by explaining that the child’s parents are in court – the child is inevitably aware of this fact – and the judge would like to know what the child thinks, and that this is why the child is meeting with me. I say that we will be having a conversation, if the child agrees to talk to me, that I will be taking notes, and that I will be writing to the judge to pass on the things the child has agreed I can say. I explain that anything the child doesn’t want me to say will stay private between us. I emphasize that although the judge wants to know what the child thinks, the judge won’t make any decisions just because of the child’s statements to me and the child is not being made responsible for how things turn out; this is the job of the judge and the child’s parents. Finally, I ask the child if he or she wants to talk to me, and I try to make it as easy for the child to refuse as possible. “Do you want to talk to me? You don’t have to if you don’t want to, it’s totally okay not to talk to me.”

After this introduction, I ask some general questions about the child’s name and age, school and grade level, and extracurricular activities. I know the answers to these questions from having spoken to the parents; I ask them to ease the child into our discussion, and I never test the child’s statements against the parents’ information. Regardless of any discrepancies, it is the child’s statements which go into my report.

Asking about the child’s daily life leads easily into a discussion about where and with whom the child lives. This in turn leads into a discussion about the time the child spends with each parent and more important questions about the child’s satisfaction with his or her living arrangements and contact schedule. This is usually the focus of my report and I try to spend as much time as the child will give me getting additional detail about these subjects. Some children are happy to talk and talk; others either can’t recall many details or get uncomfortable lingering on the topic and want to move on.

When I’ve exhausted either the subject matter or the child’s patience, I ask the most critical questions of all. “If you had a magic wand and could change anything, anything at all, what would you change? What would things look like for you?” Sometimes the child’s answers are about a computer game, a pet or a best friend, but most children know exactly why they’re talking to me and tell me about how their home life or parenting schedule would change to make things better for them. Other children of course say that things are fine exactly how they are and that they wouldn’t change a thing.

I then review with the child everything he or she has told me, using the child’s own language as much as possible. “I’m going to go through my notes and read back to you what you’ve told me. If there’s anything you don’t want me to say or anything you want me to change, anything at all, let me know and we’ll make it exactly how want it to be.” I then read through my notes point by point, and strike out or change my notes as the child wishes.

Finally, I ask the child a few general closing questions (“Is there anything else you’d like to tell me or the judge?”) and questions to clumsily test for attempts to influence our discussion (“Was there anything your mom or dad wanted you to tell me in particular?” “Are you doing anything special after we’re done?”). I thank the child, and walk him or her back to the lobby to meet the person who brought the child to my office.

I try to write my report within the next few days so that the interview is as fresh in my mind as possible. The more time which passes, the more detail I lose and the more I must rely on my notes. My reports consist of a short introduction of the parties and the children and a summary of the facts as given to me by the child. I provide the child’s description of the parenting schedule and the child’s comments about the schedule, both good and bad, using as much of the child’s phrasing as possible. I conclude with the child’s answer to the magic wand question and a reminder to the parents not to harass, hector or harangue the child in respect of his or her comments to me. I do not provide any information which the child has asked me to exclude from my report.

There are a few other things I don’t do when I’m interviewing a child. I don’t put the parents’ positions to the child, I don’t ask the child to express a preference for a parent, I don’t correct factual errors and I don’t challenge falsehoods. I don’t pressure the child into giving me answers or into being more precise than the child wishes to be. I don’t challenge, trivialize or dismiss the child’s views or comments, and I don’t express any criticism of the child or his or her parents.

Preparing these reports has given me a valuable perspective on my family law practice and an insight into the experiences and astonishing perspicacity of children, and has been altogether most enjoyable. I have been surprised by the almost universal willingness of children to talk to me about their situations; only two children have flatly refused to speak to me, and only one has used her review of my notes to eviscerate the content of our discussion. By and large, the children I’ve spoken to have relished the opportunity to talk about what’s going on in their lives and used it with enthusiasm.

John-Paul Boyd practises family law at Aaron Gordon Daykin Nordlinger in Vancouver.

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Saint John, N.B. family court pilot project

By Sheila Cameron

In February 2008, New Brunswick Justice Minister Thomas J Burke. Q.C., appointed the “Access to Family Justice Task Force.” Chaired by Mr. Justice Raymond Guerette, the task force members were practicing family law lawyers -David Lutz, Q.C., Brenda G. Noble, Q.C., Michelle Boudreau-Dumas, Mary-Eileen Flanagan, Jennifer Donovan and Sheila J. Cameron. We were given a mandate to recommend ways to improve access to the family court and generally to make recommendations to improve service to the public.

The Task Force members visited the 8 Judicial Districts in New Brunswick and were greeted with a common theme that “the family court is dysfunctional” and “you’ve got to do something”. The list of complaints and concerns included:

  1. Delays of 4 to 6 months to obtain a court date for interim relief motion;
  2. Child protection hearings were consuming the family court docket, causing delays and adjournments of other cases;
  3. Trials could take years to come to court, due to lack of case management practices;
  4. Once trials started, they were routinely adjourned because they ran out of scheduled time. These trials resumed after delays of six months or more.

A tour of the Province left the members of the Task Force with deep concerns over the operation of the family court. We then set out to look at other jurisdictions and other processes. We found an innovative and effective system in Ottawa - and it was running as a pilot project there.

Based strongly on the Ottawa model, the Access to Family Justice Task Force recommended a new model for the family court in New Brunswick. The report was presented to government on January 23, 2009 and is available online.

Our 50 recommendations recommended a new system that would triage incoming cases and provide potential litigants with non-adversarial dispute resolution options at the first court appearance. We hoped for case management, a separate docket for child protection cases and a psychologist attached to the court to prepare parenting capacity assessments when needed.

We endorsed the study “An Alternative Model for Court Administration in New Brunswick” (Sept 2007) which proposed a transfer of responsibility for court management from the executive model to a judicially led Court Services Commission. We believed that such a Commission would be more responsive to serving the public’s needs.

The Department of Justice approved a three year pilot project in Saint John with some, but not all, of the components proposed by the Task Force. The pilot project commenced operation in the fall of 2010. A Master was appointed as an integral part of this system, with the power to issue interim orders and assist parties in achieving settlements. Two mediators were hired to accept cases where the parties elected mediation prior to court. A Family Law Information Centre has opened at the court house to provide self-represented litigants with access to the rules and forms of court, and two advice lawyers are available to answer questions.

The pilot project is still in its infancy and its full impact has yet to be assessed. The New Brunswick family law bar will continue to press for more reforms, both in Saint John and elsewhere. We look forward to the expansion of the pilot project across the Province and to all of the components of the Task Force report being implemented.

Sheila J. Cameron is a Member of the Government of New Brunswick’s Access to Family Justice Task Force, and a partner at Actus Law in Moncton.

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Department of Justice Canada: New SSAG publications

By Lise Lafrenière-Henrie

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG), released in July 2008, continue to be one of the top ten documents downloaded from the Justice website.

SSAG co-authors, professors Carol Rogerson and Rollie Thompson, always intended this comprehensive document to be the authoritative reference. However, this meant one could not sit down and quickly digest the essence of the SSAG. From the outset, they realized that lawyers would require some user-friendly tips when using the SSAG. To accompany the original SSAG document, the two prolific authors produced The SSAG: A User’s Guide to the Final Version. Now with several more years of case law and general experience with the SSAG, the co-authors have produced The SSAG: A New and Improved User’s Guide to the Final Version.

The National Family Law Section, in their submission to Justice on the SSAG, noted that educating lawyers on how to use the SSAG was going to be important to its ultimate success. In response to this, Justice Canada commissioned two other documents to help educate lawyers on the use of the SSAG. Lonny Balbi of Balbi and Company in Calgary has produced Steps to Using the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, With Child Support Formula & Without Child Support Formula, that is intended as a checklist for lawyers when using the SSAG. Indeed, it works best on bright paper so that you can find it easily on your desk.

JP Boyd of the Vancouver firm, Aaron Gordon Daykin Nordlinger, was particularly concerned with the precision and consistency of the information that goes into income especially when calculating the SSAG formulas. Often, he noted, the dispute between parties is based on different ranges of amounts and duration, resulting from differing views of the information required. His new paper, Obtaining Reliable and Repeatable SSAG Calculations helps do exactly what the title says.

Finally, one more helpful paper to note is Scott Booth’s recent presentation at the National Family Law Program in Victoria, The SSAG: Don’t Be Lost in the Range or in the Details. Scott discusses how to make structured arguments to direct where awards should be within the SSAG range. Too often, he notes, there is a tendency to gravitate to the middle of the range and not provide the analysis required to apply the SSAG appropriately.

All of the articles, with the exception of the Scott Booth article1 and Rogerson & Thompson’s first User Guide, can be found on the Justice Canada Website under Topics in Family Law: A Collection of Articles.

Lise Lafrenière-Henrie is Senior Counsel, Department of Justice Canada, Ottawa.

1 Editor’s Note: Scott Booth has kindly granted the CBA National Family Law Section permission to reproduce his article below.

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The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines: Don’t get lost in the range or in the details

By Scott Booth

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines unlike the Child Support Guidelines, do not predict a precise answer to the question of “How much?”. In addition, they predict a range in answer to the question of “How long?” Sometimes the “How much” is referred to as quantum and “How long” is referred to as duration. But the real quantum of a spousal support award is the product of the “How long” times the “How much.” This is what ultimately defines the magnitude of a parties’ exposure/entitlement to spousal support.

There are many cases where there is a great difference between the minimum and maximum quantum of a spousal support award predicted by the SSAG. These cases, in particular, cry out for a sophisticated analysis of the underlying basis for entitlement, the enumerated factors relevant to awards set out in the Divorce Act and the exceptions, limitations and qualifications found within the SSAG’s themselves. Despite this, it is the writer’s experience that there is a tendency, particularly when settling a case, for counsel to gravitate towards the SSAG mid-range without analysis of whether that represents the appropriate award. Perhaps this occurs, at least in part, for the following reasons…

The full paper, originally prepared for the 2010 Federation of Law Societies of Canada- National Family Law Program, is available here .pdf

Scott Booth is a partner in the Vancouver law firm of Jenkins Marzban Logan LLP.

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Shared custody and the Canada Child Tax Benefit

Canada Revenue Agency

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is responsible for administering the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB). The CCTB is a tax-free monthly payment for children under the age of 18, and is intended to help families with the cost of raising their children.

When parents separate or divorce, the CCTB may be an important consideration when determining child support. However, provisions of the Income Tax Act (the Act), not the rules of family law, determine an individual’s eligibility for the CCTB. Often, court orders or written agreements contain CCTB eligibility provisions that are contrary to those stated in the Act, or reflect circumstances that have changed. Knowledge of the legislative requirements, by both parents and their representatives, will help to minimize the level of frustration and financial hardship that parents may experience during an already difficult period.

When determining eligibility for its programs, the CRA uses the information provided during the application process. The CRA establishes eligibility based on who resides with the child and who primarily fulfils the responsibility for the care and upbringing of the child. The CRA then uses the applicant's and the cohabiting spouse's income from the previous taxation year to determine the CCTB entitlement.

Currently, the Act only allows for one parent to be considered the eligible individual for the CCTB for any given month. Often, when shared custody arrangements exist, both parents satisfy the "resides with" and "primary care" requirements. In these cases, the CRA establishes CCTB eligibility rotationally, whereby each parent is eligible on a six-months on, six-months off basis. Eligibility for the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) and child component of the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit follow the CCTB eligibility.

The Federal Budget 2010 introduced changes to the definition of “eligible individual” and for the allocation of child benefits between parents who live separately and share custody of a child. Specifically, the Act is being amended to recognize both parents in a shared custody arrangement as eligible individuals for the CCTB and to include a definition of shared-custody parent as follows:

  • the parents are neither cohabiting spouses, nor common-law of each other;
  • the qualified dependant resides with each parent on an equal or near equal basis; and
  • they both primarily fulfill the responsibility for the care and upbringing of the dependant when residing with them.

This will improve the allocation of the CCTB in cases of shared custody, because both parents will be eligible for benefits in the same month for the same qualified dependant, and eliminates the need to rotate eligibility every six months.

If entitled, a shared-custody parent of a qualified dependant will receive one-half of benefits for the qualified dependant that the parent would have received if the parent was the only eligible individual in that particular month. This payment arrangement will continue throughout the year, or until there is a change in eligibility.

These measures will come into effect beginning July 2011 and will apply to the monthly payments of the CCTB and UCCB, and the quarterly payments of the child portion of the GST/HST credit, and any related provincial/territorial child benefit program administered by the CRA.

If either parent is unsatisfied with the determination of eligibility or the calculation of entitlements, the normal appeal rights that exist for other income tax matters apply. If one of the parents no longer meets all of the eligibility criteria, that parent should notify the CRA at once so that payments can be stopped. This will avoid the need for the CRA to recover benefits to which that parent was not entitled. For more information, please visit the Child and Family Benefits page on the CRA Web site. You can also get information by calling toll free 1-800-387-1193 (for service in English), or 1-800-387-1194 (for service in French).

Text submitted by Nathalie Morissette, Counsel - Family Law Policy, Family, Children and Youth Section, Justice Canada

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Air Canada’s Unaccompanied Minor program

Air Canada

More than 10,000 young travellers fly unaccompanied with Air Canada each year. Whether they're travelling on a short flight or are embarking on a longer journey, Air Canada’s Unaccompanied Minor (UM) service provides children travelling alone with the best of care. The service ensures that unaccompanied children are escorted by our highly trained staff from the moment they arrive at airport check-in until they reach their destination.

How it works

The Unaccompanied Minor service begins at the Air Canada check-in counter at the airport. After all the formalities and paperwork are complete, an agent will take the child into their care. Even after the child is assigned to an agent, the parents must remain at the airport until the flight has departed.

The agent will provide the child with a UM lanyard (hang-tag) so that s/he may be easily identified by airport staff as an Unaccompanied Minor, then escort the child through the security check and proceed to the boarding gate area. Once boarding is announced, the unaccompanied minor will be taken to the aircraft ahead of other passengers. S/he will be greeted by the In-flight Service Director who will guide her/him to an assigned seat.

Upon arrival at the child's destination, the In-flight Service Director will help the minor disembark, and will hand them over to an airport agent. This agent will escort the child to the Arrivals section to meet the person designated in the UM documentation. The person meeting the child will be asked for photo identification, and will sign the UM envelope, accepting responsibility for the child.

Paperwork

Proper documentation must be provided before any child can fly. For travel within Canada, children under age 18 must present a birth certificate, health card, passport or other government-issued identification. For flights to and from the United-States as well as international flights, a passport is required. Please note that regulations regarding accepted documentation change regularly; be sure to check for the latest information on aircanada.com.

Upon arrival at the airport, parents of the Unaccompanied Minor we be asked to complete a "Request for Carriage" form, which is attached to an envelope bearing the letters "UM." The form contains:

  • The child's identification and flight number
  • The name(s) and contact information of the person(s) who will meet the child at his/her destination
  • The authorizing signature of the child's parent or guardian.

The envelope will remain in the care of a designated Air Canada agent, and serves as a document holder for the child's passport or identification, airline ticket, emergency numbers, and Customs documentation.

Age requirements

Children under age 8 must be accompanied by an adult age 16 or older when travelling, and are not eligible for the UM service. The accompanying adult must occupy a seat in the same cabin as the young child.

For children ages 8 to 11 who are travelling alone, the UM service is mandatory. Youth ages 12 to 17 travelling alone are eligible for the UM service, but it is optional and not required. If a parent or guardian requests the UM service for a youth age 12 to 17, the same restrictions apply with regard to connecting and code share flights, as described above.

Eligibility

The Unaccompanied Minor service is available only on non-stop flight operated by Air Canada, Jazz and these Tier-3 carriers: flights Central Mountain Air (CMA) - Flight series 7200-7300; Air Georgian (GX) - Flight series 7350-7499; Exploits Valley Air (8K) - Flight series 7615-7649.

The service is not available for connecting flights or codeshare flights.

Getting ready

It is important to prepare a child before their flight. Carefully explain the details of the trip in advance--this will make the experience less stressful for everyone. Make sure your child is well-rested and ensure s/he has a carry-on bag containing a snack and favourite item(s) in case of a delay. Make sure the parent/guardian meeting your child at their destination is aware of all flight details and the formalities of the UM service.

Service fees and meals

A service fee of $100 CAD/USD each way per child per flight applies, regardless of fare selected. If a child age 8 to 17 is travelling as an unaccompanied minor on a flight offering only OnBoard Café service, the price of a meal or hot snack is included in the service fee. Complimentary non alcoholic beverages are always available on all Air Canada flights, and complimentary meal service is available for all passengers travelling in Executive and Executive First class, International Economy Class (except on flights to/from Sun and Caribbean locations – OnBoard Café service is available on those flights.

On May 1, 2010, Air Canada transitioned to credit card only cabins (excluding Jazz).If onboard credit card payment is not an option for the child, OnBoard Café vouchers can pre-purchased online at any time up to one (1) hour before the child's flight. More details about the program are available on the Air Canada website.

– Submitted by Fred Headon,who currently leads Air Canada’s in-house labour and employment law team at the company’s headquarters in Montreal. In April, Fred Headon was voted Second Vice-President-elect of the CBA.

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Reflections from the Past Chair

By Grant W. Gold

With the first quarter of 2011 behind us, I thought it might be appropriate for me to jot down some thoughts looking back on my time as Chair of the CBA Family Law Section.

In doing so, I cannot help but reflect on my past 8 years on the National Family Law Executive, 2 years as the Ontario Chair and 6 years as a national representative serving as Executive Member, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice-Chair, Chair, and now finally Past Chair. It is hard to believe that my time at the Executive will come to an end in June.

The years that I have spent with the National Family Law Section have left me with a feeling of intense pride; pride in our Section’s achievements, and the strides forward that we have made for family law in Canada. In my tenure with the Section, we have helped establish the Federal Child Support Guidelines and Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. Where would family law be today without them?

In 2010, our Executive’s biggest accomplishment was the preparation of our submission titled “In the Interests of Children,” a response to the passage of Bill C-422, a private members bill seeking to introduce a presumption of equal parenting time. I had the honour of briefing the Minister of Justice on our submission in May 2010.

My last official duty as Chair was in August, 2010, when I attended the CBA’s annual meeting in Niagara to present our resolution on Bill C-422. It was, I am pleased to say, accepted unanimously.

During my time on the Executive, we began what I hope will be an annual precedent of holding one of our two yearly meetings in places that do not have as much access to continuing legal education as do the larger centers in the country. Our National Section Executive members agreed, voluntarily, and at their own cost, to attend our spring meetings one day earlier than usual in order to conduct public legal education sessions for members of the public and continuing legal education sessions for the local members of the Bar. The response from both the public and the bar has been outstanding. Our attendance record to date is as follows:

  1. Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
  2. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  3. St. John's, Newfoundland
  4. St. John, New Brunswick
  5. Whitehorse, Yukon

While my own professional development has advanced as a member of the National Executive, so too has my personal development been enriched. I have made great friends across the country and in the United States as a result of my time with the Section. Family law practitioners are indeed a special breed.

Our Section Executive is dedicated, collegial, supportive and truly interested in the advancement of family law throughout Canada.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge our outstanding CBA staff support. Jennifer Lalonde and Gaylene Schellenberg are tremendous assets to the CBA and we are lucky to have them.

It has been a privilege to have served these past 8 years with the Section -and especially 2010- as its Chair. Thank you for all of your hard work.

Grant Gold is Past Chair of the CBA Family Law Section, and practises at the Toronto law firm of McCague Borlack LLP.

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APRIL 2011

Editors:
David Dundee
Monique Veillette
E-Publications Editor:
Conrad McCallum
Production:
Rose Steele
Staff Liaison:

Jennifer Lalonde

Contributors:
Scott Booth
John-Paul Boyd
Sheila Cameron
Grant W. Gold
Fred Headon
Lise Lafrenière-Henrie
Eugene Raponi, Q.C.
Air Canada
Canada Revenue Agency
 

Published by the Canadian Bar Association's National Family Law Section.

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The views expressed in the articles contained herein are solely the views of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Canadian Bar Association.

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