On January 1, 2017, the All Families Are Equal Act came into force in Ontario, Canada. This legislation amended legislative provisions governing parentage to respond to the diverse needs of Ontario families to foster equality and inclusion. The legislation implements a shift from conceiving of parenthood as derived from biology to derived from intention. Ontario’s government was forced to enact this reform after years of litigation initiated by parents from the LGBTQ community who rightly demanded that their parent-child relationships be recognized in a non-discriminatory manner. Ontario’s new parentage law has a much broader societal impact as it respects the autonomy of all parents in choosing how to form their families.
How the All Families Are Equal Act came into existence
In Ontario, who is considered a parent is governed by the Children’s Law Reform Act (“CLRA”). The registration of births and of parentage is governed by the Vital Statistics Act (“VSA”). Until the recent reforms, the CLRA and the VSA did not address the situation of children who had more than two parents, those whose parents were of the same sex, or those who were born from modern reproductive technologies or surrogacy arrangements. This posed a particular challenge for LGBTQ parents prompting a number of test cases.