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All your options from bankrupcy to credit counsellors and everything inbetween

 Consolidation Order (Alberta and Nova Scotia)


If you are a resident of
Alberta or Nova Scotia, you can voluntarily seek out a legal proceeding called a consolidation order (also known as an orderly payment of debt) to help you make your payments. With a consolidation order, the provincial court combines all your debts into one and determines the amount that you must pay to the court periodically. The court will then ensure that payments are made to your creditors on your behalf.

Voluntary Deposit Service (Quebec only)

If you are a resident of Quebec, you can register at the nearest courthouse for the province’s Voluntary Deposit Service.

Under this program, you deposit money with the court monthly. The size of these payments is based on your income and number of dependents. The court then distributes the money to your creditors.

Consumer Proposal

A consumer proposal is a formal procedure governed by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and is available to individuals whose total debts do not exceed $250,000, not including debts secured by their principal residence. With a consumer proposal, you work with a trustee in bankruptcy to put together an offer. This offer can be to pay your creditors a percentage of what you owe them over a specific period of time, to extend the time you have to pay off the debt, or a combination of both. Payments are made through the trustee, and the trustee uses that money to pay each of your creditors. Compared with the Division I proposal (see below), a consumer proposal is a simplified process and is available to individuals only.

The advantages of a consumer proposal are that you retain all of your assets, actions against you by unsecured creditors (such as wage garnishments) are stopped and you can solve your money problems without declaring bankruptcy.

Division I Proposal

A Division I proposal is a formal procedure governed by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act that is available to both businesses and individuals and there is no limit in terms of how much money is owed. As with the consumer proposal, you work with a trustee in bankruptcy to put together an offer to either pay your creditors a percentage of what you owe them over a specific period of time, or to extend the time you have to pay off the debt, or a combination of both. Payments are made through the trustee, and the trustee uses that money to pay each of your creditors.

The advantages of a Division I proposal are that you retain all of your assets, actions against you by unsecured creditors (such as wage garnishments) are stopped and you can solve your money problems without having to declare bankruptcy.

The Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act

The Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) is a federal law allowing insolvent corporations that owe their creditors in excess of $5 million to restructure their business and financial affairs. Under the CCAA, corporations ask the court for protection while they prepare an offer to creditors for some form of payment (called a Plan of Compromise or a Plan of Arrangement). CCAA proceedings are carried out under the supervision of the court.

The benefit of this option is that debtor companies are able to continue operating and receive protection from creditors while the Plan of Arrangement is being prepared. Creditors then have the opportunity to vote on whether or not to accept the offer.

Bankruptcy

If you are unable to resolve your financial troubles through any combination of formal and informal steps, you may decide to consider bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy is a formal procedure governed by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. With bankruptcy, you sign over all of your assets to a trustee, except those exempt by law. The trustee will then sell or otherwise use them (e.g., transfer them) to pay your creditors. Once you have been declared bankrupt, actions against you by unsecured creditors, such as wage garnishments, are stopped.

You Owe Money —
Understanding Consumer Proposals

If you are an individual and your total debts do not exceed $250,000 (not including debts such as a mortgage secured by your principal residence), a consumer proposal might be the right choice for you.

What is a consumer proposal?

A consumer proposal is a formal, legally binding process that is administered by a bankruptcy trustee. In this process, the trustee will work with you to develop a “proposal”—an offer to pay creditors a percentage of what is owed to them, or extend the time you have to pay off the debts, or both. The term of a consumer proposal cannot exceed five years.

Payments are made through the trustee, and the trustee uses that money to pay each of your creditors.

When is a consumer proposal appropriate?

Tip

To find a trustee, search the Trustee Registry.

To find out if a consumer proposal (or a different option) is the right choice for you, set up a meeting with a trustee to discuss your personal circumstances.

The trustee will evaluate your financial situation and explain the pros and cons of the various options that could help you solve your financial problems.

If you decide to submit a consumer proposal, the trustee will work with you to develop a proposal that works for both you and your creditors.

Below is an explanation of what happens when you file a consumer proposal.

Your responsibilities

If you file a consumer proposal, you must

  • give the trustee a complete list of all of your assets (property) and liabilities (debts);
  • attend the first meeting of creditors, if a meeting is requested (see below);
  • attend two counselling sessions;
  • advise the trustee in writing of any address change; and
  • generally assist the trustee in administering the proposal.

How a consumer proposal works

  1. The trustee will file the proposal with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB). Once your proposal is filed, you stop making payments directly to your unsecured creditors. In addition, if your creditors are collecting your salary (garnishing your wages) or have filed lawsuits against you, these actions are stopped.
  2. The trustee will submit the proposal to your creditors. The proposal will include a report on your personal situation and the causes of your financial difficulties.
  3. Creditors then have 45 days to either accept or reject the proposal. They can also do this either prior to or at the meeting of creditors, if one is held.

When is a meeting of creditors held?

A meeting of creditors is held if one is requested by one or more creditors provided they are owed at least 25% of the total value of the proven claims.

A request for a meeting must be made by the creditors within 45 days of the filing of the proposal. The OSB can also direct the trustee to call a meeting of creditors at any time within that same period.

The meeting of creditors must be held within 21 days after being called. At the meeting, the creditors vote to either accept or refuse the proposal.

If no meeting of creditors is requested within 45 days of the filing of the proposal, the proposal will be deemed to have been accepted by the creditors—regardless of any objections received.

Understanding the vote to accept or refuse the proposal

At the meeting of creditors, a creditor’s acceptance or refusal of a proposal counts as a vote, provided it is received at or before the meeting. (If there is no meeting, an objection does not count as a vote on the proposal.)

The number of votes corresponds to the total dollar value of the proven claims. The vote is decided by a simple majority of this dollar value (i.e., 50% plus 1). For example, if the proven claims total $150,000, and if the creditors who vote to accept the proposal are together claiming at least $75,001, then the proposal will be deemed accepted and all other unsecured creditors must accept it as well. (In the event there is no quorum of creditors at the meeting, the proposal will be deemed accepted.)

If your proposal is accepted, the OSB (or any other interested party) has 15 days to ask the trustee to apply to the court to have the proposal reviewed. If no such request is made, the proposal will be deemed to have been approved by the court.

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If your consumer proposal is accepted

If your consumer proposal is accepted, you will

  • be responsible for paying either a lump sum or periodic payments to the trustee;
  • be required to adhere to any other conditions in the proposal;
  • retain your assets (provided you make your payments to your secured creditors); and
  • be required to attend two financial counselling sessions.

If your consumer proposal is not accepted

If your consumer proposal is not accepted, you can

  • make changes to the proposal and resubmit it;
  • consider other options for solving your financial problems; or
  • declare bankruptcy.

How will a consumer proposal affect my credit rating?

Generally, a person who declares bankruptcy or submits a consumer proposal is assigned the lowest possible credit score.

Information that affects your credit score is usually removed from your records after a certain period of time, depending on the type of information and where you live. Similarly, depending on which province you live in, the proposal will be on your credit report for the duration of the proposal’s term, plus a few years after.

Your ability to obtain and use credit after a consumer proposal depends on convincing lenders of your personal financial maturity and ability to repay the debt; there are no guarantees—no one is required to give you credit.

Once you have fulfilled the terms of your consumer proposal, you will receive a “certificate of full performance.” To ensure your credit record is updated, send a copy of this document to the major credit-reporting agencies. Be sure to keep all of your proposal-related documents for reference by future lenders.

Learn more about credit reports, scores and ratings

If you meet the conditions of your proposal

If you meet the conditions in full, you will be legally released from the debts included in the proposal.

However, if you are making monthly payments and miss three payments, or if your payment schedule is less frequent but your last payment is more than three months past due, the proposal will be deemed annulled. This means your creditors will be able take action to collect the money you owe them, unless the court has ordered otherwise, or unless an amendment to the consumer proposal has been filed. A consumer proposal that has been deemed annulled may be revived under certain conditions.

Any questions?

Feel free to contact us if you have

  • questions about the consumer proposal process;
  • a complaint; or
  • a problem with your trustee.

The OSB keeps records of all complaints and can investigate any complaint. If you have a complaint against your trustee, we can review and investigate your complaint and attempt to reach an acceptable resolution with your trustee.


You Owe Money —
Process for Division I Proposals

A Division I proposal is a formal procedure governed by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and is available to businesses and individuals — there is no limit with respect to how much money is owed.

Process

  1. Locate a trustee in bankruptcy and set up a meeting. The trustee is someone who will work with you to develop a Division I proposal that works for both you and your creditors.
  2. The trustee will file the proposal, or the notice of intention to file a proposal, with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. Once you submit the notice of intention to file a proposal, or your proposal, you will stop making any payments directly to your unsecured creditors, any salary garnishments will stop and lawsuits against you by creditors will be stayed (stopped). Secured creditors have the option of being part of a Division I proposal.

    Responsibilities of the Debtor

    • disclose all of his or her assets (property) and liabilities (debts) to the trustee;
    • attend the first meeting of creditors;
    • attend two counselling sessions;
    • advise the trustee in writing of any address changes; and
    • generally assist the trustee in administering the proposal.

    Within five days of filing, a copy of the notice of intention is sent to all known creditors (including a report on the affairs of the debtor). The proposal itself must then be filed within 30 days after the notice of intention, unless the Court has granted an extension.

  3. The trustee will set up a meeting of creditors where creditors will vote to accept or reject the proposal. At the meeting of creditors, the trustee must also present the creditors with an estimate of what the creditors would realize under a bankruptcy compared with the amount they are being offered under the proposal.
    • If at least 66.6 percent (two thirds) in dollars and 50 percent plus one in number of eligible creditors who vote approve the proposal, the proposal is accepted by the creditors. The proposal must then be approved by the Court.
    • If the proposal is accepted by the creditors and approved by the Court, all unsecured creditors are bound by the proposal.
    • If the proposal does not receive the required votes, you are immediately declared bankrupt as of the date of the meeting of creditors.
  4. If your Division I proposal is accepted,
    • you will be responsible for paying either a lump sum or periodic payments to the trustee and adhering to any other conditions in the proposal; and
    • you retain your assets so long as you make your payments to your secured creditors.
  5. If you meet the conditions in the proposal in full, you will be legally released from the debts included in the proposal. If the terms of the proposal are not honoured, then the trustee or a creditor may apply to the Court for the proposal to be annulled and you'll be placed into bankruptcy.

Enquiries or complaints

If you have questions about the process for Division I proposals, contact us.

If you feel that the process was poorly managed or believe you have suffered a prejudice, please contact us. The OSB keeps records of all complaints and can investigate any complaint from a debtor or other person.


You Owe Money —
Restructure your business through the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act  (CCAA)

What is the CCAA?

The Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) is a federal law that applies to insolvent corporations that owe in excess of $5 million. The law gives these companies short-term protection from their creditors so they can restructure their businesses and financial affairs.

The main purpose of the CCAA is to enable financially distressed companies to avoid bankruptcy, foreclosure or the seizure of assets while maximizing returns for their creditors and preserving both jobs and the company’s value as a functioning business.

CCAA proceedings are carried out under court supervision.

Filing requirements

The process begins when a company makes what is known as an “initial application” to the court for protection under the CCAA. The application must be made in the province or territory where the company’s head office or chief place of business is located. Subsequent court orders arising from the application are binding in all provinces and territories.

When the initial application is filed, the company is required to provide the court with a projected cash-flow statement and copies of all financial statements for the year prior to the application. If no financial statements were prepared the previous year, the company must provide a copy of the most recent statement.

In addition, a senior official from the company must provide the court with an affidavit that gives a brief history of the company, the reasons for the financial difficulties, the nature of its assets and liabilities, a list of the creditors affected and the proposed classification of creditors.

The company must also show it is acting in good faith and must satisfy the court that it is capable of proposing a viable restructuring plan.

The stay

If the application is accepted, the court issues an initial order that typically gives the company and its directors 30 days’ protection from its creditors. This is known as a "stay."

The stay gives the company time to prepare a proposal called a Plan of Compromise or Plan of Arrangement. If the company needs more than 30 days to prepare the Plan, the court can be asked to grant an extension. There is no time limit on how long a stay can be extended; however, interested parties are free to approach the court to have the stay varied or lifted altogether.

Generally, a company will continue operating during a stay, but is shielded from any legal actions by creditors during that time.

The Plan of Compromise or Plan of Arrangement

A Plan of Compromise or Plan of Arrangement is a proposal the company presents to its creditors on how it will deal with the debts it owes as of the date of filing. Where applicable, it also explains how the company plans to restructure its business and operations. There are no statutory restrictions on the structure or content of the Plan.

As an example, a company may suggest any of the following compromises:

  • offering creditors less than 100 cents on the dollar
  • downsizing
  • extending the time for debt payment
  • selling assets
  • finding third parties to inject capital
  • canceling existing shares and creating a new share structure
  • transferring the business to a new company that would be controlled indirectly by its major secured creditors

How the process affects employees

During the CCAA process, collective agreements between the company and its employees remain in effect unless amended with the agreement of all parties.

In the case of source-deduction payments (e.g., employee income tax withholdings, Canada Pension Plan contributions and Employment Insurance premiums), the Plan must include a provision specifying the company will begin making such payments within six months after the court has approved (sanctioned) the Plan.

In addition, employee wage claims of up to $2,000 are secured against current assets (cash, receivables, inventory). The Plan of Compromise or Plan of Arrangement must provide for payment of these claims immediately following court approval of the Plan.

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The role of the monitor

A monitor is a trustee licensed by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy who is appointed by the court in the initial order.

As an officer of the court, their role is to monitor the company’s business and financial affairs to ensure it complies with the law, the court orders and the terms of the Plan.

The monitor may also: help the company prepare the Plan, prepare reports for the court, provide information to creditors about the claims process and creditors’ meetings, and oversee voting at the meetings. The monitor’s reports and other public documents must be posted on the monitor’s website.

The claims process

The court establishes the claims process and may appoint a claims officer to adjudicate disputed claims by creditors.

Creditors are responsible for proving their claims. An important part of the monitor’s role is to inform the creditors about the claims process and provide instructions on how to file proofs of claim. In some cases, there may be a deadline for filing the proof of claim. This deadline is known as the "claims bar" date.

To vote at a creditor’s meeting, a creditor must file a completed proof of claim and supporting documents before the start of the meeting.

Classes of creditors

For a Plan to be accepted, it must be approved by a majority of the creditors in each class who are present and voting (either in person or through a proxy). In addition, the creditors voting to accept the Plan must represent at least two-thirds of the total value of the creditors’ claims in that class.

To obtain the best possible vote for the Plan of Compromise or Plan of Arrangement, the company may choose to set up and divide creditors into separate classes. For example, the company may group the secured creditors into one or several classes.

The meeting of creditors

Once the Plan has been prepared, it is presented to creditors for their review and consideration. The creditors may then be invited to attend a meeting to vote on whether or not the Plan is acceptable.

If the Plan is accepted, the creditors will be paid or treated in accordance with the terms of the offer contained in the Plan.

If it is not approved, the stay—and, therefore, the company’s protection from creditors—is usually lifted. The company does not automatically become bankrupt if the creditors reject the Plan.

Approval of the plan/Distribution of payment

Within days of the vote to accept the Plan, the company applies to the court for its approval (sanction).

In sanctioning the Plan, the court must determine, among other things, that the Plan is fair and reasonable, that it complies with all statutory requirements and that it respects any previous orders of the court.

If the court determines that the Plan is not feasible, it can refuse to sanction the Plan. The company does not automatically become bankrupt if the court refuses to sanction its Plan.

Once the Plan is sanctioned by the court, it becomes binding on the company and on all creditors affected by the Plan.

Questions?

Feel free to contact us if you have

  • questions about the CCAA process; or
  • a complaint against a monitor.

The OSB keeps records of all complaints and can investigate any complaint against a monitor.

To find information on companies that have been granted protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act as of , consult the CCAA Records.

You Owe Money —
Considering Bankruptcy


Bankruptcy is a legal process that can provide relief to honest but unfortunate individuals who are unable to pay their debts.

Find a trustee

If you are considering bankruptcy, your first step should be to meet with a trustee. Trustees are individuals licensed by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) to administer the bankruptcy process. To find a trustee, search the Trustee Registry.

The trustee will evaluate your financial situation and discuss various alternatives that could help you to solve your financial problems.

A creditor is harassing me daily. What should I do?

Although the regulations differ slightly across Canada, there are limits on what creditors and collection agencies are allowed to do. For example, they cannot make telephone calls of such a nature or frequency that they amount to harassment of you or your family. In addition, there are certain times when they are not allowed to call. (These times vary, depending on where you live.)

Tips for dealing with collection agencies
If you feel you are being harassed, contact either a
trustee or a member of Credit Counselling Canada. They can help you by serving as an intermediary between you and your creditor.

What can you do if you can't find a trustee?

If you are unable to get a trustee to accept your file, or if you cannot afford to hire a trustee, the OSB's Bankruptcy Assistance Program may be able to help, provided that you:

  • have contacted at least two trustees and tried to obtain their services;
  • are not, and have not recently been, involved in commercial activities;
  • are not required to make surplus income payments; and
  • are not in jail.

Contact us and we will send you some information and a list of trustees who participate in the program.

What happens if you file for bankruptcy

If bankruptcy is the option you choose, you will work with the trustee to complete the required forms. The trustee will then file these documents with the OSB and you will be formally declared bankrupt.

From that point on, the trustee will deal directly with your creditors on your behalf. Once you have been declared bankrupt

  • you will stop making payments directly to your unsecured creditors;
  • any garnishments against your salary will stop; and
  • any lawsuits against you by your creditors will also be stopped.

Your assets will be sold by the trustee

Once you have been declared bankrupt, the trustee sells your assets, including any acquired during your bankruptcy. Assets that are exempted by provincial and federal laws are excluded from this sale. The trustee will hold the money raised by the sale in trust for distribution to your creditors.

Your creditors will be notified

After you declare bankruptcy, the trustee will notify all your creditors about your bankruptcy.

Your creditors may hold a meeting

Sometimes, a meeting of creditors is required or requested. At the meeting, creditors can obtain information about the bankruptcy and give direction to the trustee. If a meeting is called, you will be required to attend.

You may be examined by the OSB

After you file for bankruptcy, a representative of the OSB may examine you under oath. The purpose of the examination is to ask you about your conduct, the causes of the bankruptcy and the disposition of your property.

You will attend two financial counselling sessions

As part of your bankruptcy, you will be required to attend two financial counselling sessions. The purpose of these sessions is to help you understand the causes of your bankruptcy and to assist you in managing your financial affairs in the future.

You may make "surplus income" payments

In addition to paying the trustee's fees, you may be required to make additional payments to your trustee for distribution to your creditors. These are called surplus income payments.

Surplus income is the part of your earnings that exceeds the amount of income a family needs to maintain a reasonable standard of living. This amount is set by the OSB annually. The larger your family, the more you are allowed to keep; the more you earn, the more you are required to contribute.

If your surplus income is more than $200 per month, you will be required to contribute 50 percent of that amount.

You will be discharged from bankruptcy

A discharge releases you from the legal obligation to repay the debts you had as of the date you filed for bankruptcy, except for specific types of debts that are excluded by law. These include alimony and child support payments, student loans (if you stopped being a student less than seven years ago), court-ordered fines or penalties, and debts arising from fraud.

The timing of your discharge depends on a number of factors, including whether this is your first bankruptcy, and whether you are required to make surplus income payments.

For more details about the process, see, What happens after you file for bankruptcy.

Questions?

Feel free to contact us if you have questions about the bankruptcy process.


Protecting the Public

The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy protects the integrity of the bankruptcy and insolvency system for the benefit of investors, lenders, consumers and the public by:

 

 

 

 


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