How Do I Get Discharged from Bankruptcy in Ontario?

| Category: Bankruptcy FAQ | Bankruptcy in Ontario
Category: Bankruptcy FAQ | Bankruptcy in Ontario | (14) comments

Your discharge is important because it is your discharge that eliminates your debts, except those debts not discharged by a bankruptcy.

Automatic Discharge

bankruptcy dischargeYou will receive an automatic discharge from a first or second bankruptcy if you:

  • complete all of your duties and
  • your trustee and your creditors do not object to your discharge.

The length of your bankruptcy in Ontario can be as short as 9 months if this is your first bankruptcy and you have no surplus income but will be extended if you have surplus income or have been bankrupt before. For more information, read our FAQ about how long you will be bankrupt in Ontario.

An “automatic discharge” means that the court is not involved. Once you receive your automatic discharge, your obligation to repay your debts is gone and you have a fresh start.

Court Hearing And Discharge

While most bankruptcies end in an automatic discharge, there are circumstances when the courts will be required to approve your discharge. You are not eligible for an automatic discharge and court hearing is required if:

  • You do not complete your duties,
  • any of your creditors or your trustee objects to your discharge, or
  • if this is your third bankruptcy.

In bankruptcy court the bankruptcy judge will determine what actions you are required to take to receive your discharge.

There are four types of discharge that the judge can order:

  • Absolute discharge — You will be fully released from your debts, except debts that are excluded by bankruptcy law.
  • Conditional discharge — You are required to fulfill certain conditions prior to obtaining your absolute discharge. Conditions may include making additional payments, or completing your duties.  Once you have completed the conditions, the trustee must return to court to obtain your absolute order of discharge.
  • Suspended discharge — This is an absolute discharge that does not take effect until a specific date in the future.
  • Discharge refused —The court may refuse a discharge.

As mentioned earlier, you bankruptcy discharge is important because it is your discharge that eliminates your debts.  If you do not receive your discharge, your trustee is required to close your file, and at that time all of your debts return.  You are then in the worst possible position: your creditors can pursue you for the amounts owing, but because you are an undischarged bankrupt you cannot go bankrupt to eliminate your debts.

If you are thinking of filing for bankruptcy, contact an Ontario Bankruptcy Trustee about your situation. We can explain what your discharge will mean and help you through the process.

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  1. Chris

    What are your options when your conditional discharge is to pay your surplus oweing but you lose your high paying job?

  2. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

    Chris: Assuming the conditional discharge is pursuant to a court order, only the court can change the terms of a conditional order, so your only option would be to return to court to request a variance to the initial order. This is something you should discuss with your trustee.

  3. Rusty M.

    I declared bankruptcy 20 years ago and lost my discharge certificate. Where can I get a copy, and, is this bankruptcy still listed, and do I have to state on forms that I declared bankruptcy 20 years ago. I am applying for a real estate license and the are asking if I had ever declared bankruptcy.

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

      Hi Rusty. Bankruptcy information is maintained on your credit report for six years after discharge, so if your bankruptcy ended 20 years ago it won’t be on your credit report.

      However, bankruptcy information going back to 1973 does appear on the government’s website: so if anyone wanted to pay $8 to search your name, they could find out you were bankrupt. To answer your question, it’s up to you how you answer the question on your real estate license application. The correct answer is yes, I declared bankruptcy 20 years ago, but I am discharged.

      To get a copy of your discharge certificate you would need to contact your original trustee. If they can’t produce it, you could contact the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy and they could retrieve it from their archives. Their address can be found here:

      1. James

        Regarding your link to find and recover a letter of discharge of a bankruptcy. That link doesn’t go to any information regarding retrieval of the letter. I tried search terms but only found items related to corporate bankruptcy. Could you post an updated link please?

        1. Ted Michalos, Bankruptcy Trustee

          I just tested both links and they work. The first link is so that you can search the government’s database to find out who your trustee was. Once you know the trustee you may contact them to reproduce your Certificate. The second link is simply to allow you to contact the government agency that deals with this directly, if the trustee can’t or won’t assist you.

  4. sarah

    I went to claim brankrupcty in ontario in 2008. Without to much of a story I was in a bad state and in and out of the hospital. So long story short I went to get a bank loan last week and they asked about a brankrupcty in 2008 which shouldn’t have been there still. So I contacted my trustee and they advised me that I didn’t finish my branruptcy and that I owed 150.00 and needed my 2002 taxes.
    Can they still hold this brankrupcty against me if it was so long ago and I didn’t finish the conditions?
    I went ahead and paid the 150.00 and I’m now waiting for my taxes to come from the cra. Do I have any options?
    Thank you

    1. Ted Michalos, Bankruptcy Trustee

      Unfortunately, if you didn’t complete all of your required duties (like payments and filing of tax returns) you cannot be discharged from bankruptcy. There is no time limit or Statute of Limitations – you remain an undischarged bankrupt until you complete your duties. You have the right to apply directly to the Court and a judge has the ability to grant your Discharge, but usually the first question the judge asks is “Have you completed all of your duties?” Sorry, but that’s how the system works…

  5. Laura

    Ar the time of pleading bankruptcy my budget was presented to my trustee showing no Money left after payment of rent, car loan, utilities etc. the trustee looked for a way to free up income and could not find any. I called the Superintendent of Bankruptcy who advised the trustee has to request mediation. They did so just before discharge, but I was hospitalized for three weeks so missed the date.
    How can surplus payments be made when obligations do not free up the surplus required?

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

      Hi Laura. Surplus income is based on your income, not your expenses. The limits are set by the government, and they are the same, whether you live in an expensive apartment in Toronto, or a less expensive town. In the situation you describe, you were not able to pay the surplus income requirements. When that happens, the trustee (or you) can request mediation to allow you and the trustee to determine if there is a way to complete the payments. One option is to extend the time period of the bankruptcy so you can make the payments. If you don’t attend mediation, a court hearing is generally the next step, at which point you can explain to the bankruptcy judge your situation, and they can determine what is required to complete your bankruptcy. Regardless, this is something you should immediately discuss with your trustee, as only your trustee is aware of the full facts of your file.

  6. Sandra E.

    I received an unconditional discharged in May of 2015 however I recently got my credit report and a debt that I included in my bankruptcy still shows up. My ex husband was to have had my name removed from this debt because it was included.

    It shows that the account was closed early in the summer and then reopened again this fall. It shows that it was included in my bankruptcy but still shows my name on it. Will it continue to affect my credit as I rebuild?

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

      Hi Sandra. It is strange that a debt that was included in your bankruptcy and was closed was then reopened. Yes, a debt on your credit report will impact your credit score, so as a starting point you should contact the bank and ask why a debt that was closed and no longer exists is now reappearing on your credit report.

  7. Chad

    I claimed bankruptcy in 2000 but I still have not been discharged. How long is the statute of limitations before it will be removed from my credit report thanks for any info

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

      Generally bankruptcy information is removed from your credit report after six years for a first bankruptcy. However, that is six years from the date of discharge, so since you are not discharged it will be up to the credit reporting agency to determine when the bankruptcy should be purged.


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