On March 20, 2020, the provincial government, through the Lieutenant Governor in Council, made O. Reg. 73/20 under s. 7.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) suspending limitation periods and procedural time periods. The suspension is retroactive to March 16, 2020.

On June 5th, the provincial government made a further order continuing the suspension of limitation periods up to and including September 11, 2020, the maximum renewal period allowed under the EMCPA.

O. Reg. 73/20 applies to limitation periods and procedural deadlines that are established by Ontario statutes, regulations, rules and by-laws.

The current suspension of procedural deadlines is subject to the discretion of the court, tribunal or other decision-maker responsible for the proceeding.

O. Reg. 73/20 does not apply to:

a) Deadlines or “limitations periods” set out in contracts: Some contracts impose deadlines for commencing an action. For example, this is fairly common in insurance policies.

b) Federal law or the laws of other provinces.

O. Reg. 73/20 no longer applies to:

a) Construction Act matters: On April 9, 2020, the government amended O. Reg 73/20, such that as of April 16, 2020, the terms of O. Reg 73/20 no longer apply to provisions under the Construction Act or its regulations establishing limitation periods or a period of time within which any step must be taken in a proceeding, including an intended proceeding. In effect, limitation periods were suspended from March 16, 2020 to April 16, 2020. Time will start to run again on April 16th, with the same amount of time to meet deadlines as there had been on March 16, 2020: See s.7.1(6) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

b) Drivers’ licence suspensions under the Family Law Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act: On June 5, 2020, the government amended O. Reg. 73/20 so that driver’s license suspensions under the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, can resume in appropriate cases to enforce payment of child or spousal support.

Keep Matters Moving As Best As Possible

Although the provincial government has suspended limitation periods, the Courts continue to operate with modified procedures. Ontario Courts have been expanding Court operations since the initial close of physical courthouses at the start of the COVID-19 emergency.

Lawyers should take steps to proactively triage their files and keep them moving as best as possible in the circumstances. See practicePRO’s Managing Litigation Matters During COVID-19 for general resources and practice tips. See our article on the Superior Court of Justice Consolidated Notice to the Profession for additional information and practice management recommendations.

If you are handling a matter that may not have been tolled by O. Reg 73/20, and there may be an upcoming deadline, consider issuing a claim as soon as possible. Even when court offices are physically closed, certain courts have e-filing options.

Consult court and tribunal websites for COVID-19 Notices and Updates.

Construction Law Practice Management Tips and Limitations Resources

If you are handling a construction law matter such as a lien:

  • Consider registering (i.e. preserving) the lien online as soon as possible to ensure that you do not miss the applicable limitation period.
  • A certificate of action can be issued and filed online (i.e. perfection).
  • You will need to meet all procedural deadlines under the Construction Act.
  • Follow Court notices, and if you are unable to file a trial record in person or electronically, contact the Court to seek directions.
  • Consider seeking the consent of counsel to bring a motion in writing or other procedural concerns.
    Note that the action must be set down for trial within 2 years.

See practicePRO’s Construction Lien Flowchart and Limitations and Notice Periods resource to help you meet all key deadlines.

Continue to Monitor the Situation

Continue to monitor the situation for updates, and be ready to quickly issue actions if needed once the Order suspending limitations periods and procedural deadlines has been lifted.