Farewell to the Suspension Order: Limitation Periods and Procedural Timelines to Resume Running in Ontario on Monday, September 14, 2020

Limitation periods and procedural deadlines in Ontario have been suspended since March 16, 2020 pursuant to Ontario Regulation 73/20 (the “Suspension Order”) made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, RSO 1990, c E.9 (the “Act”).

Further to our blog post dated June 7, 2020, the Suspension Order was extended to September 11, 2020, which was the maximum renewal period allowed under the Act.

Ontario is gradually reopening its businesses, services, and public spaces. The Ministry of the Attorney General has therefore decided to revoke the Suspension Order. Limitation periods and procedural timelines will resume running on Monday, September 14, 2020 in accordance with Ontario Regulations 457/20 and 458/20 made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, SO 2020, c 17.

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Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19)

Further to our blog post dated May 25, 2020, federal legislation providing for a COVID-19 related temporary suspension of federal limitation periods and procedural time limits in civil litigation has now been enacted — Bill C-20: An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures obtained Royal Assent and enacted the Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19) (the “Act”) on July 27, 2020.

Under the Act, time limits established by federal legislation for starting or taking steps in a civil proceeding are suspended for a maximum period of six months, as of March 13, 2020 and ending on September 13, 2020 or on an earlier date fixed by order of the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice.

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Suspension Order Extended to September 11, 2020 and Decoupled from Duration of Emergency Declaration

On June 5, 2020, the Lieutenant Governor in Council amended Ontario Regulation 73/20 (the “Suspension Order”), made under section 7.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, RSO 1990, c E.9 (the “Act”), which temporarily suspends limitation periods and other procedural deadlines.

There are four important amendments to the Suspension Order:

  1. the duration of the Suspension Order is decoupled from the duration of the emergency declaration. This is a welcome amendment and addresses the need for predictability and notice. Indeed, further to our blog post of May 29, 2020, we had supported a going forward “delinking” of the Suspension Order from the duration of the state of emergency in order to remove the confusion arising from dual clocks when determining the expiry date of the suspension.
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Extension of the Suspension Order to June 14, 2020

We have previously reported on the suspension of limitations periods and procedural deadlines in Ontario effective March 16, 2020 pursuant to Ontario Regulation 73/20, as amended (the “Suspension Order”) made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, RSO 1990, c E.9 (the “Act”). The Suspension Order is subject to limitations in its duration and scope, as discussed in our earlier posts, which are listed at this link.

With respect to duration, the Suspension Order will continue in effect until June 14, 2020, because:

  • by its terms, the period of suspension under the Suspension Order is tied to the “duration of the emergency.”
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Draft Federal Legislative Proposals Regarding Time Limits and Other Periods due to COVID-19

Further to our article of March 27, 2020, Ontario Regulation 73/20 made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, RSO 1990, c E.9 does not apply to suspend deadlines or limitation periods under federal law. The Government of Canada has recently sought to retroactively fill that gap.

On May 19, 2020, the Government of Canada published draft legislative proposals which would temporarily suspend or extend certain time limits set out in federal legislation where the COVID-19 pandemic may make compliance difficult or impossible. The proposed statute would extend limitation periods in civil proceedings before the courts along with regulatory time limits.

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Extension of the Suspension Order to June 2, 2020

Limitations periods and procedural deadlines in Ontario have been suspended since March 16, 2020 pursuant to Ontario Regulation 73/20 (the “Suspension Order”) made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, RSO 1990, c E.9 (the “Act”). The Suspension Order was amended on April 9, 2020 by Ontario Regulation 137/20 and on May 1, 2020 by Ontario Regulation 194/20 to deal with the application of the Suspension Order to three specific circumstances, including most notably a carve out for the Construction Act, RSO 1990, c C.30 and the regulations made under it effective from and after April 16, 2020.

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Extension of the Suspension Order to May 12, 2020

Limitations periods and procedural deadlines in Ontario have been suspended since March 16, 2020 pursuant to Ontario Regulation 73/20 (the “Suspension Order”) made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, RSO 1990, c E.9 (the “Act”). The Suspension Order was amended on April 9, 2020 by Ontario Regulation 137/20 to create two carve-outs, including most notably effective from and after April 16, 2020 the Construction Act, RSO 1990, c C.30and the regulations made under it.

The Suspension Order is subject to limitations in its duration and scope, as discussed in our earlier post.

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