April 15, 2002
Maintenance Enforcement Programs are ruining too many lives
By Candice MacLean
The following are excerpts from the Report magazine article:
The case concerned "Edward Cooper" (not his real name), an Albertan formerly married to a doctor. She had employed him during their marriage and, since the wages were a write-off, paid him extremely well for his labour. Yet upon their divorce, although he had lost that job and was now earning only $8 per hour, the judge inexplicably based Mr. Cooper's support payments upon the wages he had been earning while in the employ of his ex-wife.
"He lived on nothing. He never had food in his house. And yet, somehow, maintenenance enforcement was able to garnishee wages on five occasions. After the deductions, he took home less than he was paying for maintenance - on an order that was out of date. He had obtained a new order for significantly less payments per month, yet somehow MEP enforced the old one that was based on a significantly higher income. I believe it was pressure placed on MEP staff by a relentless, demanding ex-wife, who used her position as a doctor to influence the action that was taken."
Finally, Mr. Cooper was forced to live in his car, and eventually, in 1999, he died in his car, using the exhaust to end his life.
"Edward actually died of a broken heart," his bereaved girlfriend maintained. "It was unjust, just plain wrong, what this system allowed. I blame [the ex-wife], but she only did what the system let her do."