BC Liberals re-introduce legislation to waive fees to hyphenate or combine last names after marriage

BC Liberal MLA Mary Polak is re-introducing legislation on Wednesday to waive the fee for married couples who want to merge or hyphenate their last names.

The legislation was first introduced last year but was never called for debate.

“I think it is something that is relatively small and easy for government to do,” Polak said.

“I’m hopeful this time around I can convince them to do this. I’m under the understanding that Ontario has introduced legislation to do the same thing. I hope British Columbia can move into the 21st century.”

It currently costs $137 for an adult in B.C. to change their name. Polak says the legislation would modernize an “outdated process for name changes that disproportionately impacts women.”

Ontario’s Change of Name Act permits spouses to take a combined surname at any point during the marriage at no cost.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate that you should have to make that choice. If you are getting married you should be able to choose the name you want to be known,” Polak said.

“British Columbians can easily take their spouse’s last name after marriage but the same is not true for those who wish to combine or hyphenate their names.”

Polak says it’s unclear how many British Columbians hyphenate or merge their names after marriage.

“It’s impossible to track. Very often what is happening is people don’t realize they have to legally change their name,” Polak said.

“This proposed legislation reflects the realities of modern relationships and family structures in our province and I hope the government will consider adopting it.”

The B.C. government has not yet responded to the proposed legislation.

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