What Filing Bankruptcy in Canada Can Do, And What It Can’t

Navigating Bankruptcy in Canada: Understanding Its Impacts and Limitations

Bankruptcy is often viewed as a last resort for individuals struggling with escalating debt. While it may be a challenging decision, understanding its impacts and limitations can provide a clearer perspective. This article explores what filing bankruptcy in Canada can do and what it can’t.

The Nature of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legally declared inability or impairment of an individual’s or organization’s ability to pay its creditors. Creditors may file a bankruptcy petition against a debtor in an effort to recoup a fraction of what they are owed. In the majority of cases, however, it is the debtor who initiates bankruptcy proceedings.

Debts Covered in Bankruptcy

The primary function of bankruptcy is to provide relief from unsecured debts. Unsecured debts are those not tied to an asset, including:


  • Credit card debts.
  • Unsecured loans and credit lines from banks.
  • Payday loans.
  • Tax debts.
  • Overdue bills, including those in collections.


While these debts can be overwhelming, bankruptcy provides a legal avenue to mitigate their impact.

Debts Excluded in Bankruptcy

However, not all debts fall under the umbrella of bankruptcy. The relief offered by bankruptcy does not extend to secured debts, such as mortgages or car loans. Yet, this exclusion can be beneficial for individuals who wish to retain their assets.

Student loans are another unique category. They can be eliminated through bankruptcy, provided the debtor has been out of school for at least seven years at the time of filing.

Certain debts are explicitly exempted by bankruptcy law, including child support and alimony arrears, court fines or penalties, and government overpayments for benefits like child tax credit or Employment Insurance.

The Impact of Stay of Proceedings

One of the primary reasons individuals file for bankruptcy is to halt creditor actions, such as wage garnishments and collection calls. Bankruptcy triggers an immediate stay of proceedings, providing temporary protection against most creditors.

However, certain actions remain unaffected by bankruptcy. For instance, garnishments pursuant to a Family Court order continue, and secured creditors can still repossess or foreclose on secured assets if the debtor defaults on the loan.

The Aftermath of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy can alleviate current cash flow problems. Payments toward outstanding debts stop, replaced by bankruptcy payments, which are often less than the previous minimum payments. The defined timeframe of these payments, often as short as nine months, allows individuals to begin rebuilding their savings once the debts are discharged.

However, bankruptcy does not influence spending habits. To fully benefit from the fresh start bankruptcy provides, it’s critical to apply the skills taught in the mandatory credit counselling sessions. These sessions help individuals develop better budgeting and money management skills to avoid future financial crises.

The Effect on Credit

Bankruptcy has a significant impact on credit. It stays on the credit report for six years following discharge, which could deter potential lenders. However, it also provides several benefits:


  • Debt elimination.
  • Improved cash flow.
  • Essential money management skills.
  • The opportunity for a fresh start.


While bankruptcy isn’t a quick fix, it can provide much-needed relief and a chance to rebuild a stable financial foundation.

Bankruptcy is a complex process, filled with nuances and exceptions. Understanding what it can and cannot do is crucial for anyone considering this path. Remember, bankruptcy is not the end but a new beginning towards financial stability.

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