Wage Garnishment Ontario – All you need to know

Wage Garnishment Ontario - All you need to know


Maxine McCreadie

June 13, 2023 5:00 am GMT

Introduction to Wage Garnishment Ontario

Wage garnishment, a legal recourse that creditors may take when a debtor is unable to fulfill their debt obligations, is a process that can significantly impact an individual’s financial stability and personal life.

In Ontario, the consequences and procedures of wage garnishment are defined by specific rules and regulations.

It’s important for individuals living and working in Ontario to understand what wage garnishment is, how it works, and what protections and rights are available to them.

This is crucial because wage garnishment can affect anyone who has outstanding debts, and it’s important to be prepared and informed.

This article aims to offer a comprehensive understanding of the concept of wage garnishment within the context of Ontario’s laws and regulations.

Whether you’re an employee fearing a portion of your wages might be garnished due to debts, or an employer who’s received a notice to garnish an employee’s wages, this article will guide you through the process.

We will dissect the reasons leading to wage garnishment, the legal process, the protections in place for workers, the responsibilities of employers, and how wage garnishment affects credit scores. Additionally, we’ll cover how bankruptcy and wage garnishment relate, tips to prevent and manage wage garnishment, and where to find help and additional resources.

Equipped with this knowledge, you’ll be able to navigate the challenging terrain of wage garnishment with a clearer perspective.

Regardless of whether you’re currently facing wage garnishment or wish to understand it for potential future scenarios, the information provided in this article will be an invaluable tool.

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Understanding Wage Garnishment

Wage garnishment, also known as wage attachment, is a legal procedure where a portion of a person’s earnings is withheld by an employer for the payment of a debt.

This method is typically the last resort for debt collection.

In Ontario, the legal framework for wage garnishment is established by the Wages Act and the Rules of Civil Procedure.

This framework provides a comprehensive method for creditors to collect outstanding debts directly from the debtor’s earnings, which bypasses the need for voluntary compliance by the debtor.

However, understanding how wage garnishment works isn’t as straightforward. The general process involves court orders, notifications, and eventual deductions from the debtor’s wages, all of which can be complex and stressful to navigate.

Reasons for Wage Garnishment in Ontario

Various reasons might lead to wage garnishment in Ontario. A common cause is unpaid consumer debt, like credit cards or loans.

If you’re unable to pay these debts, the creditor may seek a court order for wage garnishment.

Similarly, unpaid child or spousal support can also lead to wage garnishment.

Family court orders often specify the payment amount, and failure to adhere to these orders can result in the garnishment of your wages.

Unpaid taxes are another common reason for wage garnishment.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has the authority to garnish wages without a court order if a taxpayer fails to pay their taxes.

Lastly, other court-ordered payments, such as fines or penalties, can also be collected via wage garnishment.

The Process of Wage Garnishment in Ontario

The wage garnishment process in Ontario commences when a creditor claims that a debtor has not paid their debt.

The court then issues a judgment after reviewing the case. If the court rules in the creditor’s favour, it will issue a garnishment order to the debtor’s employer.

Upon receiving the garnishment order, both the debtor and the employer are notified.

The employer is legally obligated to deduct a specified portion from the debtor’s wages and send it to the court.

The garnished wages are then forwarded to the creditor until the debt is fully paid off or the court orders otherwise.

Rights and Protections for Employees

In Ontario, employees have certain protections and rights under the Wage Earner Protection Program Act (WEPPA).

This law safeguards employees’ wages from being completely wiped out by garnishments.

According to the Garnishment and Attachment Act of Ontario, creditors can garnish up to 20% of your wages for a debt.

However, certain income sources, such as pensions, employment insurance, and social assistance, are exempt from garnishment.

Employees also have protections against termination or discrimination due to wage garnishment.

It’s illegal for employers to fire or discriminate against employees because their wages are being garnished.

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Navigating Wage Garnishment as an Employer

Employers play a crucial role in the wage garnishment process.

They have legal obligations to comply with the garnishment order, which includes withholding the specified amount from the employee’s wages and remitting it to the court.

Failing to comply with these obligations can result in penalties, including being held responsible for the debt themselves.

Thus, it’s essential for employers to understand their roles and responsibilities under the garnishment law.

Tips to Prevent and Manage Wage Garnishment

Preventing and managing wage garnishment primarily involves sound financial planning and management.

Developing a budget, reducing unnecessary expenses, and prioritising debt repayments can help prevent wage garnishment.

In case you’re facing potential wage garnishment, it’s advisable to seek professional financial or legal advice.

Professionals can guide you on negotiating repayment plans with creditors, which can help avoid wage garnishment.

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The Impact of Wage Garnishment on Credit Score

Wage garnishment can have significant implications for your credit score. Directly, garnishment appears on your credit report, which creditors may consider a red flag.

Indirectly, the unpaid debts leading to garnishment can result in late payment reports, further damaging your credit score.

The impact of wage garnishment on your credit can last for several years, affecting your ability to obtain loans or credit cards.

It’s therefore critical to manage debts responsibly and seek help when needed.

Wage Garnishment and Bankruptcy

Wage garnishment and bankruptcy are intricately linked. Filing for bankruptcy can stop most wage garnishments, providing you with financial relief.

However, bankruptcy is a severe step and has long-lasting effects on your credit. It should only be considered as a last resort and ideally, under professional guidance.


Understanding wage garnishment in Ontario is crucial for both employees and employers.

Whether you’re trying to navigate an existing garnishment order or prevent one, it’s important to understand your rights and seek professional advice when necessary.

With responsible financial practices and knowledge of the legal landscape, it’s possible to manage the impacts of wage garnishment.

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Maxine McCreadie

Maxine is an accomplished financial writer, known for her expertise in the field of personal insolvency. Having worked in the international insolvency community for a number of years, she has gained a deep understanding of the intricacies of personal finance and the complexities of insolvency processes.

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