Tax information for families in Ontario

One of our favourite sites for information about family law in Ontario is called Family Law in a Box. Just today, the site published a useful list of tax credits that may be available for families in Ontario:

1. Child Tax Credits - This federal credit can save you up to $329 for each child under the age of 18.
2. Canada Child Tax Benefits - The federal CCTB is calculated for July to June yearly and could bring in to a low-income family with two children up to $555 in additional savings.   [...]
3. GST Credit:  This federal tax-free quarterly payment helps individuals and families with modest income offset all or part of the GST that they pay.  To receive the GST credit you have to apply for it every year.
4. Child Fitness and Art Tax Credit – At the federal level, for each child under 16, parents may claim a tax credit of up to $500 registered in a sport like ballet, hockey and soccer and another $500 for artistic and cultural activities, like art or music lessons.  In addition, the Ontario government offers the Children’s Activity Tax Credit where you can claim up to $526 in eligible expenses and get up to $52.60 back for each child under 16.  You can receive up to $105.20 back for a child with a disability who is under 18.
5. Universal Child Care Benefit – The federal UCCB provides families with $100 per month for each child under the age of 6 or $1,200 per child, per year.
6. Eligible Dependant – If you were a single parent during 2012, you may be able to claim an eligible federal dependent tax credit for one of your children which is equivalent to claiming a dependent spouse.  However, whether or not you receive spousal support you are entitled to this credit.  [...]
7. Child Care Education – Child care expense can be claimed to the federal government when you hire a babysitter or put your child in a daycare or summer camp to enable you to go to work (or attend school).  If you enrolled your child in a fitness program or summer camp, which operates during the hours you are working, then you must first claim the cost as a childcare expense.
8. Medical Expenses – Save your receipts whenever you buy glasses for your children or take them to the dentist as you may claim them at the federal level.  If you have a group health insurance plan at work, then only the portion that is not reimbursed is available for you to claim.
9. Child Disability Benefit - The federal and provincial governments provide child disability benefits.  If you believe your child is eligible for this benefit, ask your doctor or occupational therapist to complete a Disability Tax Credit form.
10. Tuition Tax Credit  – The federal government offers textbook amount and scholarship and bursary exemptions.  Also, if your child attends a university or a private school, you may claim the applicable tax credits from the Ontario government.
You can read the entire blog post here.

Considering mediation? Some questions to ask a mediator

Tammy Lenski

A couple of years back, I posted FAQs on Mediation, which included a number of questions drawn up by prominent mediator and educator, Tammy Lenski.  Among these were the following:

[a]sk prospective mediators questions like these to assess experience, depth of training and education, and adaptability:

  • Do you have approaches or tools you usually use? Tell me about them. You’re looking for answers that convey a complexity of thinking and practice, not rote mimicry.
  • Describe for me how your mediations typically unfold — what does it look like? Ask yourself if what they described makes sense for you and your situation. If it doesn’t, ask them…
  • Do you vary that approach in circumstances where it may not work as well? Savvy mediators will not be thrown by this question.
  • Tell me about the philosophy that guides your work. Look for a fit between what they describe and what feels right to you. If they can’t answer the question, that’s a red flag — it suggests they’ve never thought about it or have too little training to understand that all mediation approaches have underlying values and philosophies.

 All of these questions go to the matter of what’s termed in the field, mediator style.  Many mediators will say that their style varies depending on the conflict, the setting (e.g., workplace, family, etc.), the parties, etc., that they have a toolbox of skills that they apply to different situations.

Dorothy Della Noce

Consider this extract of a scholarly article by Dorothy Della Noce that appeared in a 2012 special issue of the journal, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, volume 5, issue 4:

Claims that mediators can be eclectic and flexible across styles, blending and switching styles at will, are popular among mediators for many reasons (Della Noce, 2008). But it is not clear what these mediators are supposedly switching and blending: skills, tactics, repertoires, goals, values, or styles. I suggest that the image of the eclectic and flexible mediator makes sense only at the level of decontextualized skill (thus, the popular notion that mediators are neutrals who come equipped with their vast box of tools for intervening in conflict). The image makes far less sense if mediators are understood to be acting intentionally and in a goal-directed way from a core set of their own values when they intervene in conflict—that is, from their own vision of what is good in human interaction and what is good in conflict (Bush & Folger, 1994, 2005; Della Noce, 2008). Core values about the nature of human beings, interaction, and conflict tend not to be quite so eclectic and flexible. For research purposes, the issue could be explored by first taking account of differences in goals and values among mediators, creating groups of mediators based on these differences, and then comparing behaviors within and between the groups for patterns of similarity and difference (compare Della Noce, 2002). Of course, it will be found that mediators share some tactics; they share a language and the same communication tools at the skill level. But, if the analysis is bumped up to more complex thinking about strategies, repertoires, goals, and values, we can expect to find some striking similarities within groups and differences between groups (Della Noce, 2002; compare van Dijk, 1998). Those findings will enrich our discussions of mediator style and its implications.

What does on-line transformative mediation look like?

Giuseppe Leone

Giuseppe Leone is a mediator based in Hawaii who founded the, a pilot project sponsored by the Hawaii chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution.  The project’s objectives are to help mediators wherever they are located to practise and develop their skills, and to learn how to mediate on-line using Skype™as a platform.

In the video of a role play below, Dan Simon, a certified Transformative Mediator™, supports people in their conversation about alleged gender discrimination in the workplace.  The role play itself runs for the first 47 minutes or so; the rest of the recording is devoted to a debrief led by Giuseppe of what happened in the mediation, how it was experienced by the role players, and where the main differences lie between the transformative model and the prevalent interest-based model:

Breaking the silence on domestic violence

Keeping animals in Ottawa safe in 2013

Ottawa Humane Society

Respecting mediator confidentiality

December 20, 2012

The membership of the Association for Conflict Resolution mourns the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, along with all those shaken by it across the United States and around the world.  We and many of our other colleagues stand ready to lend the full range of our professional expertise and devotion to processes that support healing, as well as those sustained efforts that will be required to facilitate dialogue, build consensus, and take action to address the deep rooted structural issues that contribute to this tragic pattern.  Our membership includes thousands of dedicated and seasoned conflict resolution practitioners with a variety of specializations committed to the work that lies ahead.

Many ACR members, particularly those who are mediators, are also following a developing side story relevant to our field. News reports have disclosed some details of the mediated divorce of the perpetrator’s parents and provided comments alleged to have come from the couple’s mediator.  ACR would like to make clear to the public that confidentiality is one of the basic principles of mediation, and that any mediator belonging to an organization, such as ACR, which has approved the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators, is bound by that standard of confidentiality ( In addition, ACR endorses both the ACR Ethical Principles and the Model Standards of Practice for Family and Divorce Mediators which state “A family mediator shall maintain the confidentiality of all information acquired in the mediation process, unless the mediator is permitted or required to reveal the information by law or agreement of the participants.”

Each year in the United States, there are thousands of divorcing couples who choose to work together in mediation to find an outcome that is mutually satisfactory. ACR is committed to seeing that they and all mediation clients can be assured that they are protected from breach of confidentiality except where permitted by law or agreement of the parties.

ACR leadership and members continue to offer whatever support and care we can to the community of Newtown, the surrounding area, and the affected families, for whom we grieve.