Due to the COVID-19 declared state of emergency, the province of Ontario has suspended all “limitation periods”, and all “provisions establishing any period of time within which any step must be taken in any proceeding (or intended proceeding)”, under any statute, regulation, rule, by-law or Order of the Government of Ontario.
These suspensions were achieved by way of order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, made on March 20, 2020 pursuant to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, 1990. The order is to continue “for the duration of the emergency”. However, provisions of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act make it clear that the suspension is for a maximum of 90 days, but that this 90-day suspension can be extended for additional 90-day periods, by further order(s). So, I stress: the duration of these suspensions is unknown and should be carefully monitored by any party wishing to rely upon them.
The term “limitation period” is not defined in the order and also is not perfectly clear under Ontario law. However, from a review of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and from a review of Ontario’s Limitations Act, 2002, I think it’s clear that a “limitation period” means the time period for a party to start a Court proceeding or a proceeding before any tribunal or other judicial or quasi-judicial decision maker. If such a legal proceeding is not started before the expiry of the limitation period, the right to start the proceeding is lost.
So, this emergency order will unquestionably give relief to any party (including a condominium corporation) who is currently facing an upcoming limitation period for the commencement of a legal proceeding (or who is facing a deadline for any required step in a legal proceeding).
Note that this suspension of limitation periods and deadlines in legal proceedings does NOT appear to apply to other sorts of deadlines (such as the three-month deadline to register a condominium lien under Section 85 (2) of the Condominium Act). [See our previous blog for some strategies in relation to common expenses and collections of common expenses.]
I would also add the following. In my view, these suspensions are of course welcome (and I think necessary) in many cases. But if you are practically able to meet a limitation period or a deadline in a legal proceeding, I recommend that you do so….in order to avoid any arguments about the application (or duration) of the emergency order, and just to make sure that you are preserving and advancing your rights as best you can.
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