Bank account seizure and garnishment

Wage Garnishee

When a court issues a judgment against you, your creditor may request the court to permit them to take the money owed from your paycheque, your bank account or the money owed to you by others. This process is called “garnishment”. In the case of a wage garnishment, your creditor will give your employer a garnishee summons, requiring that your employer pays a portion of your wages to the court which will, in turn, pay your creditors until your debt is paid in full.

If your employer receives a garnishee summons, either your employer or your creditor will give you a copy of the summons within 15 days of receipt.

No, you will be permitted to keep enough of your monthly wages for basic expenses. If you have no dependents, the minimum exemption is $800 and the maximum is $2,400 per month (after taxes). Your creditors can take up to half of your income between $800 and $2,400 and all of your income above $2,400. If you have dependents, the minimum and the maximum exemption are increased by $200 for each dependent.

Provincial laws do not permit employers to dismiss employees because their wages are being garnished

Bank Account Seizure

If a creditor garnishees your bank account, all the money you owe can be taken from your account. Your financial institution will send you notice that it has received a garnishee summons against your account. Unlike wage garnishment, where all your wages cannot be taken, garnishment of your bank account means that all the money you have deposited at your financial institution may be taken.

Joint accounts may be garnisheed but the amount taken from these accounts is proportional to the number of account holders. Usually, only one person’s money in the joint account is garnisheed.

If your employer direct deposits your wages to your bank account, you will need to make an application to the court so that these deposits have the same exemptions as wage garnishments. If you don’t apply for this exemption, your employer’s direct deposits will be regarded as bank deposits and may be taken in their entirety.

If the only money in your account is from payments under the Income and Employment Supports Act, the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped Act or Widows’ Pension Act, this money cannot be garnisheed. Deposits from other sources may be garnisheed.

It is possible to stop or change the terms of garnishment through a court order. This process will require the advice of a lawyer.

Garnishee summons is valid for 60 days against a bank account but a creditor can apply for renewal of the summons at that time.