Canada Revenue rule on child benefits upsets dad

Benefits now go to common-law spouse

CBC News

Posted: Jul 20, 2011 6:32 PM ET

Last Updated: Jul 20, 2011 6:32 PM ET

An Ottawa-area father who raised two children on his own for eight years claims the Canada Revenue Agency stripped him of child tax benefits after he moved in with a common-law spouse.

Yannick Cloutier says Revenue Canada stripped him of child bene fits after he moved in with his common-law spouse. (CBC)

Yannick Cloutier said he received a letter from the federal agency recently advising him that the benefits would be transferred to his common-law spouse — two years after she moved in with him.

The agency ruled that under the so-called "female presumption rule", the benefits must now go to his girlfriend, despite the fact she has no biological connection to Clouthier's son and daughter, and did not raise them.

His partner, Chantal Huot, was given 30 days to reply to the letter. If she failed to reply within the time limit, the benefits would be cancelled.

Cloutier said the rule is based on sexist assumptions about the family that have no connection to m odern reality.

"I don't know why the government would think today now there's a woman that my rights are gone," he said. "I told them I didn't realize I called the 1950s."

Huot said she filed the necessary paperwork in time.

But both Cloutier and Huot said the rules must change to take present-day situations into account.

"I think it's wrong. I think the parent should be getting it whether you're a woman or a man," Huot said.

"Not everybody's like me…Anybody could just go for it and say 'yeah I want the money'. It's not right. Nobody should get this letter."

Revenue Canada declined to be interviewed. However, it did say that this gender rule has gone before the courts and the Canadian Human Rights Commission in the pa st, and the policy upheld.