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Ontario Superior Court of Justice Trials

Limitation Periods and the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act

This article discussed provincial limitation periods in Ontario (not federal limitation periods) and how many limitation periods were paused due to the covid-19 pandemic.

It is generally good practice to move forwards on the basis that limitation periods did not pause, taking any necessary steps on the assumption that limitation periods did not pause. But where time constraints call for it, this article looks at the general 6 month limitation pause in 2020.

Under Ontario’s Limitations Act, 2002, many but not all limitation periods are 2 years in length, commencing on the date of discovery. See sections 4 and 5 of the Limitations Act, 2002.

Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, many, but not all limitation periods were paused from March 16, 2020 until September 14, 2020. This pause is exactly 182 days or 6 months.

What this means in practice for a 2 year limitation period is as approximately as follows:

  • For claims discovered prior to March 16, 2018, there is no change in the limitation period. In other words it remains at 2 years.
  • For claims discovered between March 16, 2018 and March 16, 2020, the 2 year limitation period is effectively 2.5 years.
  • For claims discovered between March 16, 2020 and September 14, 2020, the limitation period is extended by the numbers of days from the date of discovery to September 14, 2020 in addition to the usual 2 years. Another way of thinking about this is that the limitation period will be in the range of 2-2.5 years and will end on September 14, 2022.
  • For claims discovered after September 14, 2020, there is no change in the limitation period. In other words it remains at 2 years.

Because of the above math, September 14, 2022 will mark the end of a limitation period for 6 months of claims discovered during the pause in the limitation period.

Please note that not all limitation periods were paused and not all limitation periods are 2 years long. Some limitation periods were not paused and many limitation periods are less than 2 years. Furthermore, the dates above are not necessarily exact and my be +/- 1 day depending on statutory interpretation.

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