Ontario’s Suspension of Limitations Periods
[Updated April 23, 2020]
On March 20, 2020, the provincial government, through the Lieutenant Governor in Council, made an order under s. 7.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act suspending limitation periods and procedural time periods. The suspension is retroactive to March 16, 2020.
The Order applies to limitation periods and procedural deadlines that are established by Ontario statutes, regulations, rules and by-laws.
The Order 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.
On April 9, 2020, the government amended the Order, such that as of April 16, 2020, the terms of the Order 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.
Consider Whether E-Filing is an Option
If you are handling a matter that may not have been tolled by the Order, 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 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.
Continue to Monitor the Situation
Continue to monitor the situation for updates, and be ready to quickly issue actions if needed once the Order in Council has been lifted.