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Inventory of Reforms

Manitoba Justice Child and Family Services Division: Family Conciliation


Manitoba Justice service providing legal information, appropriate referrals, court ordered assessments, counselling, and mediation to family law litigants.

Permanent Implementation


Court of Queen’s Bench (Family Division)

Body Responsible:
Manitoba Justice Child and Family Services Division

1946: Amendment made to the Child Welfare Act which included a provision for five family counselors for the court
1968-1969: Family Conciliation Services transferred to the Department of Social Development
1984: Unified Family Court established and rule changes made to the Court of Queen’s Bench Act dealing with procedures regarding the Family Conciliation Service

Manitoba Department of Family Services and Housing annual report 2009/2010
Family Conciliation Services Website
Manitoba Department of Family Services and Housing annual report 2007/2008

“The Family Conciliation program is delivered through the Department’s Community Service Delivery Division, and is the social services component of the Court of Queen’s Bench, Family Division. Policy responsibility for Family Conciliation rests with the Strategic Initiatives and Program Support Branch, Child and Family Services Division” (Annual Report 2007/2008 at 81).

The Family Conciliation Services emerged in 1984 when the Unified Family Court was created. Some of the Family Conciliation services were integrated with the Court of Queen’s Bench Act which was amended that same year. Since then, various slight modifications have been made, but the service has largely maintained its present form.

A review of family law in Manitoba produced some recommendations which resulted in some changes to the mediation program. The mediation program was expanded with Federal funding through a pilot project. The program proved to fulfil an identified need for families, and the pilot became an ongoing service.

The For the Sake of the Children program was added to the FC service in 1995, and expanded in 1997 after an evaluation. In April 2005, a symposium was held where the judiciary along with the legal community recommended that the parent education program (For the Sake of the Children) become mandatory. This recommendation was implemented on May 15, 2007, and a corresponding amendment was made in the Queen’s Bench Rules.

The objective of Family Conciliation Services “is to ensure the availability of a range of high-quality dispute resolution services to families disrupted by separation or divorce, and where ongoing parenting of the children is of primary concern” (2007/2008 Annual Report at 81).

Description of Reforms:
Services to separating/divorcing families are provided to Winnipeg, Eastman, Interlake and Central community areas through the office in Winnipeg and to Westman, Parkland, and northern regions through Rural and Northern Services, Community Services Delivery Division.

Family Conciliation’s objective is achieved through the following activities:

2007/2008 Annual Report at 81

Services offered include:

2011/2012 Annual Report at 90-91

Criteria and Methods of Evaluation:
A series of evaluations were conducted on the effectiveness of various different programs: Case Management, Parent Education, and Mediation. Two evaluations were conducted on the Parent Education program and reports were produced with recommendations on how the program could be improved. The mediation program was also assessed.

It was found that Comprehensive Mediation resulted in 90% of cases being settled out of court. Regular mediation had a 65-85% success rate. The evaluation concluded that the success of comprehensive mediation can be attributed to the parties’ willingness to cooperate and it usually takes place at an earlier stage in the divorce proceedings. In regular mediation, there are a wider variety of factors at play and the parties are often at various stages of their divorce, or have already divorced but are back again dealing with support, access, or custody issues.

As a result of the evaluations, the For the Sake of the Children was expanded from a 3 hour program to a 6 hour program and made mandatory. Furthermore, the Child and Family Services Act was amended to address the needs of grandparents and their grandchildren, and allow the court to order a wider range of custody and access solutions. Flowing from that, the Family Conciliation service programs have been modified to include grandparents and changes were accordingly made to the Court of Queen’s Bench Rules on May 15, 2007.

Activities/Highlights in 2010/11
In 2010/11, Family Conciliation Services provided the following high quality services:

2011/2012 Annual Report at 91-92

Revision History:
This summary was last reviewed in Aug 20, 2012