The province has added more teeth to its family maintenance enforcement program, ramping up efforts to deal with deadbeat spouses.

Changes to the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) came into force March 1, allowing the FMEP to instruct ICBC to now cancel, as well as refuse to renew, the driver’s licence of someone with more than $3,000 in arrears for child or spousal support payments

Previously, the FMEP could only direct ICBC to refuse to renew the driver’s licence of someone with arrears of more than $3,000, and the effectiveness varied as licences are only renewed every five years.

Changes will also help paying parents reach repayment arrangements sooner and will increase opportunities to create a manageable payment plan by preventing arrears from accumulating for up to five years.

FMEP can also legally go after wages, salaries and/or commissions, pensions and workers’ compensation benefits, long or short-term disability payments, rental property income, bank accounts and ICBC claims.

It can also issue an attachment to the federal government to intercept any funds owing to the payor from one or more sources, including employment insurance benefits, Canada Pension Plan or Old Age Security payments, GST credits and income tax refunds.

Since its inception in 1988, FMEP has disbursed over $4 billion — at a current annual rate of over $210 million per year — to families and children in British Columbia, elsewhere in Canada and internationally to countries that have agreements with British Columbia.

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