I am divorced.
This is not a secret, and in fact, many will know that I changed my name back to my maiden name once my divorce had finalized and my kids had graduated from high school.
Going through a divorce can be incredibly difficult and scary – especially if you don’t have money to pay for a lawyer.
While I was fully employed when I went through my divorce, there were many times that I would be overwhelmed with gratitude and an understanding of how difficult it would be if I wasn’t.
Which is why I will use my voice and my strength to stand up for those that are in that difficult situation.
I serve on the Select Standing Committee for Finance and heard from many agencies about how poorly funded single mothers are to seek representation in court.
The stories are horrific, as many mothers are running for their lives, never mind fighting through a difficult system without resources.
So last week I sent out a press release on the court case between the NDP government and the Single Mothers’ Alliance (SMA).
The NDP government has challenged the legal standing of the SMA in their attempts through the justice system to secure funding and resources for single mothers and their children fleeing domestic abuse.
Single mothers and their children fleeing domestic abuse.
These single moms are looking for help from the government when it comes to legal aid to help navigate family law courts in the wake of fleeing domestic abuse.
In February 2022, in his capacity as Attorney General, David Eby directed lawyers to try and crush the ability of organizations to sue the government on behalf of people with very little money and power.
We know that women suffer disproportionately from inadequate access to family legal services — with 70 percent of family legal aid applications made by women, and 55 per cent of all family legal aid applications refused.
It’s long overdue to increase funding and access to legal aid for family law cases and do everything we can to help these women get the support they need to separate from an abusive partner and secure custody and safety for their children.
As Attorney General, David Eby also commissioned and received a report that reviewed how to improve the province’s legal aid system. That report has now been ignored by the NDP for three and a half years.
British Columbians deserve a government that has their back, not one that hinders the efforts of mothers vying for their safety. It’s unthinkable.
The BC Liberals are calling on the NDP government to back down in their fight against single mothers and increase funding, access, and eligibility thresholds for legal aid for family law cases.
As a mother as well as the Critic for Gender, Equity and Inclusion, I will continue to use my voice to advocate for those that need support in order to make it through the legal system and find safety for themselves and their children.
My question to you this week is this: What do you see the role of government is in protecting single mothers and their children?
I love hearing from you.
Please reach out via email at Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call 250-712-3620.