New Ontario law gives grandparents some rights to grandchildren

December 19, 2016
Article Source
Toronto Star

From a Toronto Star article: Wanda Candolini hasn't seen two of her grandchildren in years, and hasn't even met her third.

Estranged from her two daughters and their kids, she says she continues to call and leave messages, hoping the situation will change.

She believes her daughters are "good and loving mothers . . . . But what I find, I don't think they realize what harm they are doing.

"I have an 11-year-old grandson and granddaughter, she's 8, but they have a memory of me. This is the thing that gets most of us. They remember me, they remember spending the night at my place, then I was gone."

Candolini attends support group meetings for others like her who have been alienated from their grandchildren, and said new legislation compelling Ontario courts to consider grandparents' rights will help her generation.

Bill 34, which amends existing laws, was recently given royal assent after being reintroduced by NDP MPP Michael Mantha earlier in the fall. He said the new legislation brings Ontario in line with other provinces.

While it doesn't automatically grant grandparents access, it does mean courts must consider them in custody cases, while also looking at what's in the best interest of the child.

"Courts now have to look at grandparents in a different light," said Mantha (Algoma-Manitoulin) in an interview, adding he hopes the bill will encourage nurturing relationships between the generations.

Advocacy groups estimate about 75,000 grandparents in Ontario have been estranged from their grandchildren and have been pushing for improvements to the laws for more than a decade.

Read more: New Ontario law gives grandparents some rights to grandchildren