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Earlier this week the government passed Bill 28, the All Families Are Equal Act. This legislation will be proclaimed in force on January 1, 2017. It amends the Children’s Law Reform Act, the Vital Statistics Act and 39 other statutes to recognize the multitude of ways that a child can be conceived, and changes the wording in some laws so that gender references are neutral. It aims to acknowledge the diversity of parentage and to end discrimination against non-traditional families.

This is the first time changes have been made to Ontario’s parentage legislation since 1978. It is in response to a number of court challenges and other developments in the common law and in reproductive technology.

Included in the bill are the following:

  • A new process for parents who use assisted reproduction or a surrogate to have their parentage recognized in law
  • The option of naming up to four parents for children when they are born, without requiring a court order
  • The ability of courts to grant parental status to a deceased person when a child is  conceived posthumously
  • A change to references in legislation from “the mother, father or other parent” to simply “a parent”, and from “mother” to “birth parent

Critics have raised some concerns regarding this new legislation. There are a number of unanswered questions for how these changes will operate in practice, including whether parents may still want to obtain court orders to confirm parentage, how these changes under Ontario law will be recognized in foreign jurisdictions, and how this impacts on existing practices for surrogacy and donor agreements. We plan to review a number of these concerns in future blog posts from our family law lawyers at Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP. Stay tuned!

Read about the passing of the bill here.

For more about assisted reproduction, surrogacy, parentage, and same-sex parenting and families, contact our Family Law Group.

This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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