Nova Scotia’s Maintenance Enforcement Mess

The Dexter government’s inexplicable decision to move the Maintenance Enforcement Program from Halifax to Cape Breton is creating massive headaches for support recipients:

More stories of confusion and uncertainty emerged Tuesday over the NDP government moving the offices and staff tasked with tracking down deadbeat dads.

As of this month, the Justice Department has closed all its maintenance enforcement offices — in Amherst, Sydney, Dartmouth, Kentville and New Glasgow — to the public. The service is to be relocated to New Waterford, with a new office opening in the spring.

Carolyn Stewart of Halifax, who last received a payment in August and is now owed $18,000, said Tuesday that she just talked to her caseworker in the Amherst office Monday and was told her file would be moved to Cape Breton. The caseworker, like others on the mainland, isn’t making the move to the new office.

Stewart said she didn’t realize the Cape Breton office isn’t open yet.


Justice Department figures showed that, as of March 31, 2011, there were more than 15,000 cases in the province’s maintenance enforcement program, which collects and distributes court-ordered payments like spousal support. More than 9,000 cases were in arrears, by a total amount of $81 million by Dec. 31, 2011, according to the department.

A single mother quoted Tuesday in The Chronicle Herald said she had been waiting six weeks to hear from a caseworker after leaving several voice messages and was having problems with the program’s 1-800 number.

Justice Minister Ross Landry said Tuesday he called the woman and left a message expressing his concern about her situation.

Another woman contacted The Chronicle Herald on Tuesday saying she also had trouble with the automated telephone message system.

Rachelle Purcell said in an interview that she’s tired of getting the runaround while chasing the court-ordered payments for her teenage daughter. The last payment she received arrived Nov. 12, and arrears total about $9,600, she said.

“I can’t get hold of one person,” she said, referring to enforcement workers on her file. “They don’t call you back.”

3 thoughts on “Nova Scotia’s Maintenance Enforcement Mess

  1. Angela P says:

    I am also having problems with MEP. I’m not getting my calls returned and my arrears now total almost $220 000. My ex is hiding his assets and income with his wife and in his company. He is continuing to perjure himself in Financial Statements. He is not even paying the full monthly amount let alone the arrears and costs awarded this spring. The enforcement officer does not seem to even have a rudimentary understanding of the Maintenance Enforcement Act and all that can be done to encourage my ex to pay. Thousands of women and children are suffering so 25 New Waterford residents could have a job which would be fine if they were doing their job but they are not.

  2. Shelley says:

    I am extremely impatient with MEP since they moved to New Waterford. I make several phone calls, leave messages and await the response. My ex husband is in arrears to me, although they get payments from him, Since the office has moved to New Waterford, my payments are 11-15 days late. Before they moved, I have a case worker to talk too and I had payments made regularly. I won’t put up with this, I have medication to purchase, sometimes I cannot because the payments are always late. I know they get the money from his employment, it comes right from the Military which is government and is on time!! I am about to call the ombudsman and get to the bottom of this. Or I will contact the media and make a direct visit to the office in New waterford, with a media crew! Someone needs to get their shit together!

  3. Lee Ann Steeves says:

    Still the same issues even 3 years later. Why do these people have such a hard time enforcing orders? First of all I had to tell them where he worked and gave them the address, then they issued a garnishment and it got back on track. Back in May there were missed payments and I made an inquiry and then things got back on track for a brief moment. Now, as of today, my file is 514 in arrears (not a lot but it shouldn’t be any) and my next payment is due Oct 1st so it will then be over 800 in arrears. If they have all of these enforcement options, why aren’t they using them? Also, even if they aren’t doing their job they could at least email or phone people back! Unreal!

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