Limitation periods in Ontario have resumed as of September 14, 2020.
Ontario courts and tribunals had suspended their timelines and limitation periods under O. Reg. 73/20 back on March 20, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the usual time limits for commencing claims and filing documents were paused between March 16, 2020 and September 13, 2020, and have now resumed as of September 14, 2020, a total suspension period of 26 weeks.
To illustrate, an employee who was wrongfully dismissed on April 16, 2018 would normally have two years to bring their claim, until April 16, 2020. On March 16, 2020, that employee had one month left to commence a claim. As a result of O. Reg. 73/20, the employee’s limitation period now runs until October 14, 2020.
Practical Considerations for Employers:
• If you are a party to a legal matter before Ontario courts or tribunals such as the Human Rights Tribunal, Small Claims Court, or the Superior Court of Justice, be aware that timelines to file documents have resumed.
• The resumption also applies to those contemplating bringing matters before the courts and who have not yet done so. Different courts and tribunals have different limitation periods, after which a matter generally cannot be filed.
• As courts and tribunals resume, be prepared for delays as both courts and tribunals address backlogs.
The resumption of limitation periods means that both employers and employees should now take pro-active measures to ensure that their matters are moving along smoothly and to ensure that no looming deadlines are overlooked or missed. Furthermore, employers are advised to expect changes in court and tribunal processes which may have been modified in order to comply with public health and social distancing measures, such as online filing and remote hearings in lieu of personal attendance.