Wage Garnishment Issues in Canada

Wage garnishment is a legal process that originated as part of the legal system in the UK. Today, both the United States and Canada permit wage garnishment under limited circumstances. Essentially, “garnishment” allows a creditor who has obtained a valid judgment to require an employer to withhold a portion of a judgment debtor’s wages to satisfy the judgment. The requirements for garnishment in Canada vary according to specific provincial laws, and you should speak to a professional wage garnishment counsellor to better understand your situation.

Two Types of Garnishment

The tax collecting agency in Canada, as a branch of the Canadian government itself, enjoys broad powers of garnishment. For instance, when a citizen of Canada owes money to the Canada Revenue Agency, taxing authorities possesses discretionary authority to garnish wages.

Similarly, employers may be ordered to garnish a portion of an employee’s wages in order to pay unpaid child support judgments. Although Canadian provinces do not permit the garnishment of more than 15% to 30% of wages, courts allow the percentage deducted for the support of children to exceed that limit in rare and limited cases.

Private Garnishment

Creditors owed money in Canada may go to court to garnish wages in some instances. Basically, two types of private garnishments of assets occur. Before a court case, a creditor may seek prejudgment garnishment to prevent the other party in a lawsuit from disposing of assets which would be required to pay a judgment should the plaintiff win the lawsuit. This type of garnishment does not apply to wages. It may prevent a party to a lawsuit from selling land or other property, however.

After obtaining a final court judgment, creditors may seek the garnishment of the losing party’s wages in order to pay the judgment. In this situation, laws in all provinces limit the percentage of wages garnished by the judgment creditor. Why? Possibly because no one would keep working if they did not earn any money at all. Employees subject to garnishments may find 15% up to 30% of their wages withheld by an employer to pay a judgment as a result of a court’s order.

Garnishment And Social Media

Creditors seeking to enforce the a civil judgment sometimes use social media sources to obtain information about judgment debtors and their places of employment, in addition to other sources of information. However, anyone representing a creditor seeking to enforce an order for a garnishment much recognize that the verifying accuracy of the information remains important. Attempting to garnish the wages of the wrong individual or the wages of someone not subject to a final judgment could prove expensive.

In the past, employers sometimes sought to terminate employees subject to garnishments because of the hassle involved. Now this area has become the subject of extensive regulation.

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