Bankruptcy Ontario Rules

Bankruptcy can be a daunting process for anyone. Understanding the ins and outs of the bankruptcy laws in Ontario, Canada is essential to navigate the process smoothly. In this article, we will delve deep into the bankruptcy Ontario rules, providing a comprehensive guide for anyone seeking to understand the process better.

Key Legislation Governing Bankruptcy in Ontario

Four primary pieces of legislation govern the bankruptcy law in Ontario:

  1. The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA)
  2. Ontario Execution Act
  3. Limitations Act
  4. Personal Property Security Act of Ontario

These laws collectively address all aspects of bankruptcy, defining the rights of creditors and debtors alike.

The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA)

The BIA is a federal act that provides a legal framework for financially struggling individuals seeking relief. It allows for the “poor and unfortunate debtor” to find a way out of crippling debts and seek “rehabilitation.”

The act defines the roles and responsibilities of various parties involved in the bankruptcy process, including:

The act guides all parties through the bankruptcy process, providing a roadmap of procedures and consequences for not following the rules laid out in the BIA.

Ontario Execution Act

The Ontario Execution Act outlines what assets are exempt from seizure when you file for bankruptcy in Ontario. This exemption allows you to keep certain assets, such as:

  • Assets held in trust for someone else
  • Certain tax credits
  • RRSPs (except contributions made in the last year)
  • Certain personal possessions

Limitations Act

The Limitations Act outlines how the statute of limitations affects old debts. Generally, the statute of limitations on most debts expires after two years from the date the account originally became delinquent.

Personal Property Security Act

The Personal Property Security Act (PPSA) requires creditors to register their interest in any assets used as collateral for a loan. This registration is crucial as secured assets are not included in a bankruptcy.

Understanding the Bankruptcy Process

The bankruptcy process involves several steps that you must follow to successfully navigate the bankruptcy Ontario rules. Here is a step-by-step guide on the process:

Step 1: Evaluate Your Financial Situation

Before you decide to file for bankruptcy, it’s essential to thoroughly evaluate your financial condition. You must owe more than $1,000 in unsecured debt to be eligible to declare bankruptcy in Ontario.

Step 2: Find a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT)

Once you’ve established that you meet the criteria for bankruptcy, the next step is to find an LIT. An LIT is a person licensed by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy to administer bankruptcy estates.

Step 3: Initial Consultation with LIT

After finding an LIT, you must meet with them in person for a free consultation. During this meeting, the LIT will review your assets, liabilities, and budget to determine if you are insolvent.

Step 4: Filing for Bankruptcy

If you are found to be insolvent, the LIT prepares the paperwork to file your personal bankruptcy with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. You must sign the paperwork before it is sent off.

Step 5: Dealing with Creditors

Once the paperwork is filed, the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act provides an automatic stay of proceedings. This stay immediately stops all collection actions and attempts to force repayment while you go through the legal process of bankruptcy.

Step 6: Completion of the Bankruptcy Process

After all these steps are completed, the bankruptcy process is finished. It’s important to follow the guidelines laid out in the bankruptcy Ontario rules to ensure a smooth process.

Exempt Assets in Ontario

When filing for bankruptcy in Ontario, certain assets are exempt from seizure. These exemptions allow you to keep necessary items such as:

  1. Your primary residence (if the home equity does not exceed $10,000)
  2. One motor vehicle worth less than $6,600
  3. Household furnishings and appliances worth up to $13,150
  4. Tools of trade worth up to $11,300
  5. All necessary clothing for you and your dependents
  6. All necessary medical aids for you and your dependents
  7. Certain life insurance policies
  8. All savings in Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF), and Savings and Profit Sharing Plan (SPSP) funds, excluding contributions from the 12 months before your filing.

Bankruptcy and Your Home

In 2015, the Ontario Execution Act was updated to define the amount of home equity that qualifies for an exemption. If you have $10,000 or less of equity in your home, you are not at risk of losing your home when you file for bankruptcy.

Equity is defined as the current market value of your home, minus the remaining balance on your mortgage, tax arrears, and liens on the property.

However, if your home equity exceeds $10,000, your home could be at risk of being seized and sold by the bankruptcy trustee.

Debts Not Subject to the Statute of Limitations

While most debts are subject to the statute of limitations, some are not, including:

  • Government-guaranteed student loans
  • Taxes
  • Court-ordered debts such as child support and fines

Filing for Bankruptcy: Is It the Right Decision?

Before deciding to file for bankruptcy, it’s crucial to consider all your options. Every debt solution has its benefits and drawbacks, and the right choice depends on your unique financial situation.

Consider alternatives to bankruptcy such as debt consolidation, credit counseling, debt settlement, or consumer proposals. Consulting with a trained debt relief specialist can provide an unbiased opinion on the best option for your situation.


Understanding the bankruptcy Ontario rules is crucial for anyone considering filing for bankruptcy in Ontario. While the process can be overwhelming, knowing what to expect can make the process less daunting. Remember, it’s essential to consult with a licensed insolvency trustee or debt relief specialist to ensure you’re making the best decision for your financial future.

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