Tories to reintroduce grandparents' rights bill

The provincial Conservatives hope the third time's a charm for their proposal for a grandparents' access bill.

It's been rejected twice, but the provincial Conservatives say they will not give up on their proposal for a grandparents' access bill.

The private member's bill would give grandparents the right to continue a relationship with their grandchildren in the event of a divorce or the death of their adult child.

Minnedosa MLA Leanne Rowat has introduced the bill twice; it was rejected by the legislature both times.

Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen announced Thursday that the party will reintroduce a similar bill during the next session of the legislature.

"There ought to be legislated recognition within the laws of Manitoba that ensure that the rights of grandparents and the importance of that relationship be acknowledged by courts when they make decisions around access to children in that sort of a context," he said.

"I think what's happening right nowis grandparents who are trying to access visitation are being told, 'The court system won't help you because the legislation isn't strong enough to support your involvement in the lives of that child,'" said Rowat.

"If you have strong legislation, often parents and grandparents … may be able to work through mediation."

Family Services Minister Christine Melnick said her government is aware of the importance of the issue. She has been meeting with grandparents to determine what they want to see happen.

"We're looking at something more comprehensive, that will allow families more options to hopefully be able to work out difficult situations in a more conciliatory way," Melnick said.

Melnick says the Conservatives had the chance to include the concerns of grandparents in the Child and Family Services Act when they were in power in the mid-1990s, but they chose not to.