Property exempt from seizure from creditors

In Canada certain property of a debtor is beyond the reach of their creditors. Certain property is exempt from seizure under provincial law, federal law, as well as the common law. The fact that property is exempt from seizure will be relevant in two different situations. The first situation is where a judgment creditor attempts to satisfy a judgment through seizure of either personal property or real property under a writ of seizure of sale of personal property or a writ of seizure and sale of lands. A judgment creditor is a creditor that has successfully sued a debtor and obtained a judgment against the debtor, referred to as the judgment debtor. The second situation is where an individual files for personal bankruptcy. In the former scenario, the judgment debtor, and in the latter scenario, the bankrupt, are entitled to keep property that is exempt from seizure.

Set out below is exempt property under common law, federal law, and provincial law. If property is exempt under the common law or federal law then all Canadians are entitled to take advantage of the exemption. If property is exempt under provincial law, then only the residents of that province are entitled to the exemption.

(1) Property exempt from seizure under the common law

Under the common law damages from pain and suffering are exempt from seizure.

(2) Property exempt from seizure under federal law

A. Indian Act
Under the Indian Act, both real and personal property is exempt from all non-Indians.

B. Benefits
A variety of benefits are exempt from seizure under federal law:

  1. unemployment insurance benefits under the Employment Insurance Act
  2. Canada Pension Plan benefits
  3. Old Age Security Act benefits
  4. allowances under the War Veterans Allowance Act
  5. Canadian Forces Superannuation Act benefits
  6. Allowances under the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowance Act
  7. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act benefits
  8. Annuity and monies paid under Government Annuities Act are exempt under insolvency laws
  9. the interest of any member in Pension Fund Societies Act

(3) Property exempt from seizure under provincial law

Alberta

The relevant law is section 88 of the Alberta Civil Enforcement Act and subsection 37(1) of Alberta Regulation 276/95.

  1. Food required by the enforcement debtor and the enforcement debtor’s dependents for 12 months
  2. medical and dental aids required by the enforcement debtor and the enforcement debtor’s dependents
  3. $4,000 worth of clothing
  4. $4,000 worth of household furnishings
  5. Maximum exemption for an automobile is $5,000
  6. Maximum exemption for personal property for a person whose primary occupation is not farming is $10,000
  7. Maximum exemption for a principal residence, including a principal residence that is a mobile home, is $40,000
  8. in the case of an enforcement debtor whose principal residence is farming, up to 160 acres of land if the enforcement debtor’s principal residence is located on that land and that land is part of that enforcement debtor’s farm
  9. in the case of an enforcement debtor whose primary occupation is farming, personal property that is necessary and for the proper and efficient conduct of the enforcement debtor’s farming operations for the next 12 months
  10. Any payments made to an enforcement debtor under the following laws:
    • Income support payment paid under the Income and Employment Supports Act
    • Handicap benefit paid under the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped Act
    • Widow’s pension under the Widow’s Pension Act

British Columbia

The relevant law is sections 71 and 72 of the British Columbia Court Order Enforcement Act, and sections 2 and 3 of the Court Enforcement Act Regulation.

  1. The necessary clothing of the debtor and the debtor’s dependents
  2. $4,000 for household furnishings and appliances
  3. Medical and dental aids that are required by the debtor and the debtor’s dependents
  4. Maximum of $5,000 for one motor vehicle if the debtor is not a maintenance debtor and a maximum of $2,000 if the debtor is a maintenance debtor
  5. $10,000 for tools and other personal property of the debtor that are used by the debtor to earn income from the debtor’s occupation
  6. All property in a registered retirement savings plan, registered retirement income fund or deferred profit sharing plan
  7. Maximum exemption for a principal residence is $12,000 for a debtor whose principal residence is located within the boundaries of the Capital Regional District or the Greater Vancouver Regional District
  8. Maximum exemption for a principal residence is $9,000 for a debtor whose principal residence is located outside the boundaries of the Capital Regional District or the Greater Vancouver Regional District

Manitoba

The relevant law is sections 23, 25, and 26 of Manitoba’s Executions Act and section 13 of the Judgments Act.

  1. The food and fuel necessary for the judgment debtor and the members of his family for a period of six months, or the cash equivalent thereof
  2. The necessary and ordinary clothing of the judgment debtor and his family
  3. Maximum of $4,500 for furniture and household furnishings
  4. Health aids, including a wheelchair, an air-conditioner, an elevator, a hearing aid, eye glasses and prosthetic or orthopedic equipment that are reasonably necessary for the judgment debtor or a member of his family
  5. The articles and furniture necessary to the performance of religious services
  6. Maximum of $7,500 for the tools, implements, professional books and other necessaries, used by the judgment debtor in the practice of his trade, occupation or profession to carry on business
  7. Maximum of $3,000 for a motor vehicle, where the judgment debtor requires the use of a motor vehicle in the course of or for the purposes of his employment, trade, occupation, profession or business or for transportation to and from his place of employment or business
  8. The seed sufficient to seed all the land of the judgment debtor under cultivation
  9. Maximum of $2,500 for the actual residence or home of any judgment debtor other than a farmer
  10. In the case of a judgment debtor who is a farmer
    • all animals reasonably necessary for the proper and efficient conduct of his agricultural operations for the next ensuing 12 months
    • all farm machinery, dairy utensils and farm equipment reasonably necessary for the proper and efficient conduct of his agricultural operations for the next ensuing 12 months and one motor vehicle, if required for the purpose of his agricultural operations
    • the farm land upon which the judgment debtor his family actually resides, up to a maximum of 160 acres
    • the house, stables, barns, and fences, on the judgment debtor’s farm
  11. Any monies payable to a debtor by reason of loss by fire under a policy of fire insurance with respect to real property that is exempt from seizure
  12. Any monies payable under an annuity

New Brunswick

The relevant law is section 33 of the Memorials and Executions Act.

  1. The furniture, household furnishings and appliances reasonably necessary for the debtor and his family
  2. The necessary and ordinary wearing apparel of the debtor and his family
  3. All necessary food and fuel for the debtor and his family for three months
  4. Two horses and sets of harness, two cows, ten sheep, two hogs and twenty fowl, and food therefore for six months
  5. Maximum of $6,500 for tools and implements and necessities used by the debtor in the practice of his trade, profession or occupation
  6. Maximum of $3,000 for a motor vehicle required by the debtor to retain employment or used in the course of his trade or necessary for his profession or occupation
  7. Seed, grain and potatoes required for seeding and planting purposes in the following quantities
    • Forty bushels of oats
    • Ten bushels of barley, buckwheat, wheat
    • Thirty-five barrels of potatoes
  8. Dogs, cats, and other domestic animals belonging to the debtor
  9. Medical or health aids reasonably necessary to enable the debtor or any member of his family to work or to sustain health
  10. the property or interest of a person receiving an annuity

Newfoundland & Labrador

The relevant law is section 131 of The Newfoundland Judgment Enforcement Act and subsection 48(1) of the Newfoundland Judgment Enforcement Regulations.

  1. Food required by the debtor and his dependents during the next 12 months
  2. Fuel or heating as a necessity for the debtor and his or her dependents
  3. Medical and dental aids that are required by the debtor and his or her dependents
  4. Domesticated animals which are kept for pets and not used for a business purpose
  5. Maximum of $4,000 for clothing for the debtor and his dependents
  6. Maximum of $4,000 for appliances and household furnishings
  7. Maximum of $2,000 for the debtor’s motor vehicle
  8. Maximum of $10,000 of personal property
  9. Maximum of $500 for items of sentimental value
  10. Monies in a registered retirement savings plan, registered retirement income fund, or deferred profit sharing plan
  11. Maximum of $10,000 of equity in the debtor’s principal residence

Northwest Territories

The relevant law is subsection 2(1) of the Northwest Territories Exemptions Act.

  1. The necessary and ordinary clothing of the debtor and the debtor’s family
  2. The food, fuel, and other necessaries of life required by the debtor and the debtor’s family for the next 12 months
  3. Household furniture, utensils and equipment that are contained in and form part of the permanent house of the debtor
  4. Maximum of $600 for tools used in the debtor’s business profession or calling, or livestock, fowl, and bees
  5. Maximum of $3,000 for the debtor’s principal residence

Nova Scotia

The relevant section is section 45of the Nova Scotia Judicature Act and Value of Chattels Exempt from Seizure Regulations.

  1. The clothing and household furnishings reasonably necessary for the debtor and his family
  2. All fuel and food reasonably necessary for the ordinary use of the family
  3. All medical and health aids reasonably necessary for the debtor and his family
  4. All grain and other seeds, and all cattle, hogs, fowl, sheep and other livestock which are reasonably necessary for the domestic use of the debtor and his family
  5. Maximum of $3,000 for one motor vehicle
  6. Maximum of $1,000 for tools used in the debtor’s chief occupation

Nunavut

  1. The necessary and ordinary clothing of the debtor and the debtor’s family
  2. The food, fuel, and other necessaries of life required by the debtor and the debtor’s family for the next 12 months
  3. Household furniture, utensils and equipment that are contained in and form part of the permanent house of the debtor
  4. Maximum of $600 for tools used in the debtor’s business profession or calling, or livestock, fowl, and bees
  5. Maximum of $3,000 for the debtor’s principal residence

Ontario

The relevant law is section 2 of the Ontario Executions Act.

  1. Maximum of $5,000 in necessary and ordinary wearing apparel of the debtor and his or her family
  2. Maximum of $10,000 in household furniture, utensils, equipment, food and fuel that are contained in and form part of the permanent home of the debtor
  3. Maximum of $5,000 for a motor vehicle
  4. Maximum of $10,000 for tools and instruments used in the debtor’s profession or calling where the debtor is not engaged full-time in farming
  5. Maximum of $25,000 for livestock, fowl, bees, books, tools and instruments used in the debtor’s profession where the debtor is engaged full-time in farming
  6. Where a person is engaged full-time in farming sufficient seed to seed 100 acres of land and where a seizure is made between October 1st and April 30th, such food and bedding as are necessary to feed exempt livestock

Prince Edward Island

The relevant law is section 24 of the Prince Edward Island Judgment and Execution Act.

  1. The necessary and ordinary clothing of the debtor and his family
  2. Maximum of $2,000, for household furniture, utensils, equipment, food and fuel that are contained in and form part of the debtor’s residence
  3. Maximum of $3,000 for a motor vehicle
  4. Maximum of $2,000, for a debtor other than a farmer, for tools and instruments ordinarily used by the debtor for his business, trade or calling
  5. Maximum of $5,000, for a debtor who is farmer, for livestock, fowl, agricultural machinery and equipment ordinarily used by the debtor in his farm operation
  6. Sufficient seed for a farmer to seed 100 acres of land

Qu�bec

The relevant law is Articles 552 and 553 of the Qu�bec Code of Civil Procedure.

  1. Food, fuel, linens and clothing necessary for the life of the household
  2. Maximum of $6,000 for household furnishings and appliances
  3. The instruments of work for the debtor’s exercise of his professional activity
  4. Property of a person used to compensate for the individual’s handicap
  5. Family papers, portraits, medals and other decorations
  6. Anything used for religious worship
  7. Benefits payable under a supplemental pension plan to which the debtor’s employer contributes on behalf of the debtor
  8. Disability benefits under a contract of accident and sickness insurance
  9. Reimbursement of expenses incurred under a contract of accident and insurance
  10. Inherited property where the property was bequeathed on the condition that it was exempt from seizure, to the extent permitted by a judge
  11. Gifts where the person making the gift declared the property was exempt from seizure, to the extent permitted by a judge
  12. Fees dues to ministers of religion including any monies paid following their retirement
  13. Judicially awarded support payments
  14. 50% of all monies payable under the federal Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act

Saskatchewan

The relevant law for farmers is sections 66 to 75 of the Saskatchewan Farm Security Act and the relevant law for non-farmers is The Exemptions Act.

non-farmers

  1. The necessary and ordinary clothing of himself and his family
  2. Maximum of $4,500 for furniture, household furnishings and appliances
  3. Grain, flour, vegetables and meat, whether prepared for use or on foot, or any of them , sufficient when converted into cash to provide food and fuel for heating purposes for the execution debtor and his family until the next ensuing harvest
  4. One motor vehicle where it is necessary for the proper and efficient conduct of the execution debtor’s business, trade, calling or profession;
  5. The books of a professional person
  6. Maximum of $4,5000 for the tools and necessary implements and office furniture and equipment used in the debtor’s practice of his business, trade, calling or profession
  7. The property and interest in an annuity
  8. The homestead to a maximum of one hundred and sixty acres
  9. The execution debtor’s principal residence, or the trailer or mobile home, to a maximum of $32,000,

farmers

  1. The necessary and ordinary clothing of himself and his family
  2. Maximum of $10,000 for furniture, household furnishings and appliances
  3. Produce of a farm sufficient, when converted into cash, to provide food and fuel for heating purposes for the farmer and his family until the next harvest
  4. All livestock, farm machinery and equipment, including one automobile or one farm truck, that are reasonably necessary for the proper and efficient conduct of the farmer’s agricultural operations for the next 12 months
  5. Seed grain chosen by the farmer, that is sufficient to sow all his farm land under cultivation to a maximum amount equal to the product of two bushels per acre and the number of acres of farm land under cultivation by the farmer
  6. The crop of the farmer to the extent that it is sufficient, when converted into cash, along with any other means that he may have to pay all unpaid legitimate costs of harvesting the crop, provide a necessary living allowance for the support of the farmer and his family until the crop of the following year is about to be harvested, and provide necessary costs of his farming operations until that time
  7. One motor vehicle, where it is necessary for the proper and efficient conduct of the farmer’s business, trade, calling or profession
  8. The books related to any profession practiced by the farmer
  9. Maximum of $4,500 for the tools and necessary implements and office furniture and equipment used by the farmer
  10. The homestead
  11. The farmer’s principal residence, or a trailer or a mobile home occupied by the farmer, to a maximum of $32,000

Yukon

The relevant law is section 2 of the Yukon Exemptions Act.

  1. The necessary and ordinary clothing of the debtor and the debtor’s family
  2. The food, fuel, and other necessaries of life required by the debtor and the debtor’s family for the next 12 months
  3. Maximum of $200 for the household furniture, utensils and equipment that are contained in and form part of the permanent house of the debtor
  4. Maximum of $600 for tools used in the debtor’s business profession or calling, or livestock, fowl, and bees
  5. Maximum of $3,000 for the debtor’s principal residence
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