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Ontario government lifts the suspension of limitation and procedural time periods and both resume running on September 14, 2020

The province suspended the running of limitation and time periods on March 20, 2020, retroactive to March 16, 2020 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) which provided that any provision of any statute, regulation, rule, by-law or order of the province establishing either 1) any limitation period or 2) any period of time within which any step must be taken in any current or intended proceeding in Ontario was suspended for the duration of the declared emergency under the EMCPA. The latter – procedural time periods - was subject to the discretion of the court, tribunal or other decision-maker responsible for the proceeding.

The practical effect of the EMCPA under the Human Rights Code (Code) was to suspend the one (1) year limitation period under section 34(1) to file an application for a breach of the Code (Form 1) and the six (6) limitation periods under section 45.9(3) to file an application for a contravention of settlement (Form 18). In addition, the suspension of the procedural time periods affects various procedural steps in litigation based on the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario’s (HRTO) Rules of Procedure.  This means that the remaining number of days left to run in a limitation or procedural time period that began before March 16, 2020 were paused and would recommence once the suspension was lifted. Similarly, if a limitation or procedural time period would ordinarily begin running based on an event that occurred on or after March 16, 2020, the time period would not commence to run until the suspension was lifted.

On August 20, 2020 the government announced that the suspended limitation and procedural time periods will resume running in accordance with Ontario Regulations 457/20 and 458/20 made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, SO 2020, c 17. This means that the limitation and procedural time periods that were suspended under the Code and the HRTO’s Rules of Procedure as March 16, 2020 for a period of 26 weeks will resume running on Monday, September 14, 2020. 

It is important that you be very careful in calculating the dates on which any relevant limitation periods under the Code and/or procedural time periods under the HRTO’s Rules of Procedure are set to expire. For more information, see https://news.ontario.ca/mcscs/en/2020/08/ontario-extends-orders-under-the-reopening-ontario-act-2020.html and https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200073?_ga=2.185035177.1046551572.1598283219-1373664212.1568324889.