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Bankruptcy Exemptions in Canada

What kinds of assets are exempt in a bankruptcy in Canada?

In Canada, the federal Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act defines three kinds of exemptions:

Exemption Extremes
Furniture Nunavut $200
Sask. farm $10,000
Car Yukon $600
Quebec No set limit
Health aids Ontario None
Nova Scotia No set limit
Your likely exemptions?
Personal evaluation

The provinces and territories generally define “other exempt property” to include the following, up to limited values, which vary greatly from province to province:

The tools and farm exemptions can not both be taken; they apply only to your principal occupation.

Exemptions by province and territory

CAUTIONS:

For interpretation of the rules in your case, we strongly recommend that you contact a Canada bankruptcy trustee to review your situation to determine which assets would be exempt if you were to file for bankruptcy. You should be completely clear on what you can keep if you go bankrupt in Canada versus what you may lose if you go bankrupt in Canada.

Please choose your province or territory:

Alberta - Exempt Property

  1. Food: 12 months’ supply.
  2. Clothing: up to $4,000.
  3. Household furniture and appliances: up to $4,000
  4. One motor vehicle; up to $5,000
  5. Health aids: no dollar limit.
  6. Tools of your trade: up to $10,000.
  7. Farm property: requirements for 12 months operations.
  8. Principal residence: up to $40,000, reduced to your share if you are a co-owner.
  9. Farm land: up to 160 acres.
  10. Social allowance, handicap benefit or a widow's pension if the proceeds from the payment are not intermingled with your other funds.

Statute: Read the Civil Enforcement Act.

For details on what you can keep if you go bankrupt in Alberta and the rules for bankruptcy exemptions in Alberta, please consult an Alberta bankruptcy trustee.

British Columbia - Exempt Property

  1. Food and fuel: none.
  2. Clothing: no dollar limit.
  3. Household goods: up to $4,000
  4. One motor vehicle: up to $5,000 (or $2,000 if you behind on child support payments).
  5. Health aids: no dollar limit.
  6. Tools of your trade: up to $10,000.
  7. Farm property: none.
  8. Principal residence: up to $9,000 (or $12,000 in Greater Vancouver or Victoria).

Statute: Read the Court Order Enforcement Act and Regulations.

For details on what you can keep if you go bankrupt in British Columbia and the rules for bankruptcy exemptions in British Columbia, please consult a British Columbia bankruptcy trustee

Manitoba - Exempt Property

  1. Food and fuel: six months’ supply or cash equivalent.
  2. Clothing: no dollar limit.
  3. Household furniture and appliances: up to $4,500
  4. One motor vehicle (needed for occupation): non-farmers up to $3,000, farmers no limit.
  5. Health aids: no dollar limit.
  6. Tools of your trade: up to $7,500.
  7. Farm property: buildings and requirements for 12 months operations.
  8. Principal residence: farm house; non-farmers up to $2,500, or $1,500 if you are a co-owner.
  9. Farm land: up to 160 acres.
  10. Items needed for religious services.
  11. Locked-in pension plans.
  12. Certain life insurance policies.
  13. Municipal or school property.

Statutes: Read the Executions Act and the Judgments Act.

For details on what you can keep if you go bankrupt in Manitoba and the rules for bankruptcy exemptions in Manitoba, please consult a Manitoba bankruptcy trustee.

New Brunswick - Exempt Property

  1. Food and fuel: three months’ supply.
  2. Clothing: no dollar limit.
  3. Household furniture and appliances: up to $5,000 (more in some cases).
  4. One motor vehicle (needed for occupation): up to $6,500 (more in some cases).
  5. Health aids: no dollar limit.
  6. Tools of your trade: up to $6,500.
  7. Farm property: farm animals to specified limits, their feed for six months, and seeds to specified limits.
  8. Principal residence: none.
  9. Items needed for religious services.
  10. Pets.
  11. Pension plans.

Statute: Read the Memorials and Executions Act and the Personal Property Security Act.

For details on what you can keep if you go bankrupt in New Brunswick and the rules for bankruptcy exemptions in New Brunswick, please consult a New Brunswick bankruptcy trustee.

Newfoundland & Labrador - Exempt Property

  1. Food and fuel: twelve months’ supply.
  2. Clothing: up to $4,000.
  3. Household furniture and appliances: specific types, up to $4,000
  4. One motor vehicle: up to $2,000
  5. Health aids: No dollar limit.
  6. Tools of your trade: up to $10,000.
  7. Farm or fishing or aquaculture property: up to $10,000.
  8. Principal residence: up to $10,000.
  9. Pets.
  10. Items of sentimental value: up to $500.
  11. Certain pension plans.
  12. Certain income.

Statute: Read the Judgment Enforcement Act and Regulations and the Personal Property Security Act.

For details on what you can keep if you go bankrupt in Newfoundland & Labrador and the rules for bankruptcy exemptions in Newfoundland & Labrador, please consult a Newfoundland and Labrador bankruptcy trustee.

Nova Scotia - Exempt Property

  1. Food and fuel: no dollar limit.
  2. Clothing: no dollar limit.
  3. Household goods: up to $6,500, more in some cases.
  4. One motor vehicle: up to $3,000, or up to $6,500 if needed in occupation.
  5. Health aids: no dollar limit.
  6. Tools of any occupation: up to $1,000.
  7. Seeds and livestock for domestic use: no dollar limit.
  8. Principal residence: none.

Statute: Read the Judicature Act and Regulations and the Personal Property Security Act.

For details on what you can keep if you go bankrupt in Nova Scotia and the rules for bankruptcy exemptions in Nova Scotia, please consult a Nova Scotia bankruptcy trustee.

Ontario - Exempt Property

  1. Food, fuel, household furniture, appliances: up to $11,300.
  2. Clothing: up to $5,650.
  3. One motor vehicle (needed for occupation): up to $5,650
  4. Health aids: none.
  5. Tools of your trade: up to $11,300.
  6. Farm property: seed for up to 100 acres, feed and bedding for the current winter, 14 bu. potatoes, other up to $28,300.
  7. Principal residence: none.
  8. Most pension plans, life insurance policies, and certain RRSPs.

Statute: Read the Executions Act.

Exemption amounts for Ontario bankruptcy have changed a number of times over the last few years. We strongly recommend that you contact an Ontario Bankruptcy Trustee to review your personal situation and determine what you can keep if you file for bankruptcy in Ontario.

Prince Edward Island - Exempt Property

  1. Food, fuel, household furniture, appliances: up to $2,000.
  2. Clothing: no dollar limit.
  3. One motor vehicle (needed for occupation): up to $6,500.
  4. Health aids: no dollar limit.
  5. Tools of your trade: up to $2,000.
  6. Farm property: seed for up to 100 acres, other up to $5,000.
  7. Principal residence: none.
  8. RRSPs with beneficiary a family member: no dollar limit.

If you are behind on child or spousal support payments, the above exemptions do not apply to any item but tools of your trade.

Statute: Read the Judgment and Execution Act and the Personal Property Security Act.

Quebec - Exempt Property

  1. Food and fuel: no dollar limit.
  2. Clothing: no dollar limit.
  3. Household furniture and appliances: specific types, up to $6,000.
  4. Motor vehicle: no dollar limit.
  5. Disability aids, accident benefits: no dollar limit.
  6. Tools of your trade: no dollar limit.
  7. Farm property: no dollar limit.
  8. Principal residence: $10,000.
  9. Support received through court order, donation, or bequest.
  10. Most property declared exempt by a donor or will.
  11. A certain portion of your wages and salaries, based on the number of your dependants.
  12. Benefits payable and employer contributions under an employer-sponsored pension plan.
  13. Family papers and portraits, medals and other decorations, and documents.
  14. Items used in religious worship.
  15. Income for services as a minister of religion.
  16. Food, lodging, and transportation passes received for employment travel.

Statute: Read the Code of Civil Procedure.

For details on what you can keep if you go bankrupt in Quebec and the rules for bankruptcy exemptions in Quebec, please consult a Quebec bankruptcy trustee.

Saskatchewan - Exempt Property

  1. Food and fuel: cash equivalent of supply until the next harvest.
  2. Clothing: no dollar limit.
  3. Household furniture and appliances: up to $4,500 (or $10,000 for a farm).
  4. One motor vehicle (needed for occupation): no dollar limit.
  5. Health aids: none.
  6. Tools of your trade: up to $4,500.
  7. Farm property: livestock and equipment for up to 12 months, two bushels seed per acre of land under cultivation, and enough cash or current crop for farming costs to the next harvest.
  8. Principal residence: up to $32,000 (your share) and associated land up to 160 acres.
  9. All retirement savings plans: RRSPs, RRIFs, and DPSPs.
  10. Certain life insurance policies.

Statute: Read the Exemptions Act and the Saskatchewan Farm Security Act.

For details on what you can keep if you go bankrupt in Saskatchewan and the rules for bankruptcy exemptions in Saskatchewan, please consult a Saskatchewan bankruptcy trustee.

Northwest Territories / Nunavut / Yukon - Exempt Property

  1. Food and fuel: twelve months’ supply.
  2. Clothing: no dollar limit.
  3. Household furniture and appliances: up to $200.
  4. Health aids: none.
  5. Tools and animals of your trade, including motor vehicle: up to $600.
  6. Principal residence: up to $3,000.
  7. RRSPs associated with insurance policies.

The above exemptions for the territories do not apply if:

Statute: Read the Yukon Exemptions Act, NWT Exemptions Act, Nunavut amendments to Exemptions Act.

Bankruptcy exemptions reforms

Some people believe that the limits and rules for exemptions are outdated and that the differences across the country are unfair, and have urged that they be increased and made more uniform. The 2005 bankruptcy reform (which may never be proclaimed as law), would have had a minor effect on Canadian bankruptcy exemptions, but left most of them unchanged.