19 years and 7 bills later the battle is over, as NDP MPP Mike Mantha’s private member’s Bill 34 is now law.
Since 1997 six bill attempts were made to change the Children’s Law Reform Act, to allow grandparents access to their grandchildren. On Dec. 8th Bill 34 received approval from the Lieutenant Governor-General.
While, the amended Children’s Law Reform Act, does not go as far as a similar law in Quebec, Ontario joins other provinces in recognizing the value of then grandchild-grandparent relationship which gives grandparents a voice in petitioning the courts and presenting evidence for access or custody, where they have a case and it is in the best interest of the child. The court will continue to determine if this access is in the best interest of the child.
Grandparents in Ontario can ask for access where there was an existing relationship OR ask for custody in such cases as where both parents have passed away or are totally incapable of taking care of the children.
We do not believe, at this time, that Bill 34 will help grandparents that had no existing relationship with a child. Clearly, no parent ever wants to take their child to court. We sincerely hope that this amendment to the Children’s Law Reform Act will encourage people to have open and honest dialogue aimed at rebuilding their relationship and encourage the parties to make amends for boundaries that may have been crossed. Grandparents are encouraged to try mediation first, with the intervention of family, friends or religious leaders because litigation can cost $20,000 to $50,000 unless representing yourself, and you will not be guaranteed success.
We are joining with other Ontario grandparent groups and are continuing our efforts with the Ontario Government (Minsters of Health and Senior Affairs), Elder Mediators of Ontario, Elder Abuse Ontario and family support groups (Vanier Family Institute) to provide grandparents and their families with opportunities and avenues to resolve differences and rebuild families through a free mediation process. As grandparents we must accept that time with our grandchildren is not a right. It is an earned blessing and a privilege.
For more information, please contact Wanda Davies
https://www.facebook.com/wanda.davies.129 at 1-416-389-7491 or Betty Cornelius at 1-613-334-424 or grandma@cangrands.com