A major reason Canadians choose to avoid bankruptcy in Canada is that they often have to surrender assets, unlike when filing a consumer proposal and one of the biggest reasons to ensure there are no other debt relief options available. If there is a way to avoid handing over assets, it would be best not to, right? Sadly, there remains many who must surrender many assets while under bankruptcy protection.

However, while you are required to surrender some assets, it does not require you to surrender every asset. Bankruptcy is designed to be more restorative, not punitive. Therefore, the experience is still awful, the bankruptcy laws in Canada were created so that those entering bankruptcy are able to retain certain assets that are considered necessary for survival of yourself or your family once bankruptcy discharges are over. These exemptions include various assets.

Bankruptcy Exemptions in Canada

All bankruptcies in Canada are governed at a federal level with process guidelines, but each territory and province have some room for its own rules to administering bankruptcy for residents. One example being, each of the territories and provinces have the ability to establish its own bankruptcy exemptions. Therefore, the financial amounts and types of bankruptcy exemptions are different between regions throughout Canada.

Most Common Exemptions

Although each territory and province in Canada can set bankruptcy exemptions of their own, some exemptions are found in most, or all of them.

In 2008, the federal law exempted Registered Retirement Savings Plans from being included across all territories and provinces. Therefore, what you have saved in retirement cannot be used. This is the same for debt settlement and other types of debt relief programs, which cannot seize retirement savings. Although, any contributions to a retirement savings plan within the 12 months prior to filing for bankruptcy will not be exempt. However, it protects the contributions you’ve made over the years prior to this 12-month period from being surrendered during bankruptcy.

The following asset types are exempt throughout most territories and provinces in Canada, but each province establishes a limit of total worth. For example, one province could exempt a single vehicle up to $15,000 in bankruptcy, but another province may have a set limit of $10,000.

Common Types of Assets Exempt from Bankruptcy in Canada

  • Necessary tools for work
  • Home equity
  • Necessary clothing and food
  • Pets
  • Vehicle equity

Specific Types of Assets Exempt from Bankruptcy in Canada

The following are types of assets that are exempt from bankruptcy specific to each territory or province in Canada.

Bankruptcy Exemptions for Alberta

  • All medical devices
  • Up to 1-year of food to feed you and family
  • $4,000 in clothing for you and family
  • $4,000 in household goods and furnishings
  • $5,000 in vehicle equity
  • $10,000 in vocational tools
  • $40,000 in home equity

Bankruptcy Exemptions for British Columbia

  • All medical devices
  • All necessary clothing
  • $4,000 in household goods and furnishings
  • $5,000 in vehicle equity
  • $10,000 in vocational tools
  • $9,000 in home equity (up to $12,000 in Vancouver and Victoria)

Bankruptcy Exemptions for Manitoba

  • All medical devices
  • All necessary clothing
  • Up to 6 months of food to feed you and family
  • $4,500 in household goods and furnishings
  • $3,000 in vehicle equity
  • $7,500 in vocational tools
  • $2,500 in home equity

Bankruptcy Exemptions for New Brunswick

  • All medical devices
  • All necessary clothing, food and fuel for daily living
  • Up to 6 months of seeds, livestock and food to feed you and family
  • Pets
  • $5,000 in household goods and furnishings
  • $6,500 in vehicle equity
  • $6,500 in vocational tools

Bankruptcy Exemptions for Labrador and Newfoundland

  • All medical devices deemed necessary
  • All pets
  • Up to 1-year of food to feed you and family
  • Up to 1-year of fuel for heating
  • $500 in items of sentimental value
  • $4,000 of necessary clothing for you and family
  • $4,000 in household goods and furnishings
  • $2,000 in vehicle equity
  • $10,000 in vocational tools
  • $10,000 in home equity

Bankruptcy Exemptions for Nunavut, Yukon, and Northwest Territories

  • All medical devices
  • All necessary clothing
  • Up to 1-year of food to feed you and family
  • $500 in household goods and furnishings
  • $600 in vehicle equity and/or vocational tools
  • $3,000 in home equity

Bankruptcy Exemptions for Nova Scotia

  • All medical devices
  • All necessary clothing
  • All necessary fuel and food for you and family
  • All necessary household furnishings
  • $3,000 in vehicle equity
  • $1,000 in vocational tools
  • $5,000 in household goods

Bankruptcy Exemptions for Ontario

  • $5,600 in necessary clothing
  • $5,650 in vehicle equity
  • $11,300 in household goods and furnishings
  • $11,300 in vocational tools
  • $28,300 in farm equity

Bankruptcy Exemptions for Prince Edward Island

  • All necessary clothing
  • All necessary vocational tools
  • $2,000 in household goods, furnishings, fuel and food
  • $3,000 in vehicle equity
  • $5,000 in livestock, farm equipment, fowl, and seed for 100 cultivated acres

Bankruptcy Exemptions for Quebec

  • All necessary vocational tools
  • All clothing, fuel and food
  • No limit on vehicle equity
  • All disability benefits
  • All gifted or donated property declared exempt
  • Support as part of adjudication
  • All family pictures, papers, and awards or medals
  • Some salary or wages (based on number of dependents)
  • Up to $10,000 in principal residence

Bankruptcy Exemptions for Saskatchewan

  • All medical devices
  • All necessary clothing
  • 1 vehicle if necessary, for work
  • $4,500 in household goods and furnishings
  • $4,500 in vocational tools
  • $32,000 in home equity

Avoid Surrendering Assets

The best way to avoid surrendering your assets is to consider alternatives to bankruptcy in Canada. Simply fill out our debt relief form and we will send you more information on how to avoid bankruptcy.


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