When It’s the Parents’ Turn to Seek Support

This news story caught my eye yesterday: an elderly woman in British Columbia is suing her children for parental support. Ms. Anderson is asking that her two children each pay her $750 a month to make ends meet.

Most provinces in Canada have some legislative obligation for children to support their parents. For example, the Civil Code of Quebec stipulates that:

585. Married or civil union spouses, and relatives in the direct line in the first degree, owe each other support.

A few decisions in Quebec have been rendered under this section; however, it is clear that this provision does not absolve parents from trying to find work, if they are able to. Certain decisions also clarify that children who do not have the financial means to provide such support to their parents will not be ordered to do so. Just as in determinations of child support, many factors will clearly go into evaluating whether or not adult children should be paying support to their parents.

When reading this article and the ensuing comments made by readers, it is clear that this is a sensitive topic. Questions of government intervention, cultural norms and social values certainly are but a few of the elements that dictate one’s point of view on the matter. With an aging population, do you think these types of litigation will become more frequent?


  1. In Manitoba, the pertinent legislation is The Parents’ Maintenance Act, C.C.S.M. c. P10, which I believe was first passed in 1933 (see Northern Canadian Trust Co v Smith, [1947] 3 DLR 135 (Man CA)). I see that statutes with similar titles are in place in B.C., Nova Scotia, Ontario and Saskatchewan.