News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

November 3, 2021

MANITOBA GOVERNMENT IS MODERNIZING THE FAMILY MAINTENANCE ACT



The Manitoba government is making changes to the Family Maintenance Act to include parentage legislation for children conceived through assisted reproduction with or without surrogacy, Justice Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.

“Last year, the courts declared certain sections of Manitoba’s Family Maintenance Act dealing with the rightful parents of children to be unconstitutional and found the current legislation infringed certain sections of the charter,” said Friesen.  “While the legislation was not intending to discriminate, it simply did not keep up with changes in reproductive technologies, resulting in situations where the law has become challenging to navigate for anyone using assisted reproduction to become a parent. Our government has done considerable work to respond legislatively to safeguard the rights and interests of children, and ensure legal recognition of the intended parents.”

Legal parentage determines who a child's parents are and affects a number of areas in a child's life, including identity, citizenship, inheritance rights and entitlement to benefits under federal and provincial law.

Parentage provisions are critical to safeguard the rights of children and ensure legal recognition of the intended parents, who will have legal rights and responsibilities respecting their child, noted the minister.

In 2020, the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench found key provisions of the Family Maintenance Act to be invalid. The court gave the government until Nov. 9, 2021, to pass new valid legislation. Amended provisions to provide for the determination of parentage of children conceived through assisted reproduction will be introduced at the earliest opportunity when the legislature resumes.

This includes changes to provisions on parentage related to assisted reproduction with or without a surrogate, including requirements for surrogacy agreements before a child is conceived, processes for surrendering the child to the intended parents and exceptions where a surrogate does not consent to surrender the child.

The minister noted the changes bring Manitoba in line with other provinces that have updated their parentage law to deal with assisted reproduction, including Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

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