When you need to file a consumer proposal, where to file depends on two factors:
- Who is legally able to file a consumer proposal for you; and
- How the Bankruptcy & Insolvency Act defines your ‘location’.
In order to file a consumer proposal, you first need to meet with a licensed trustee. Your initial discussions can be done in person, via e-mail or over the phone, but eventually, you will need to meet face-to-face with a licensed trustee. When you are ready to proceed with filing a consumer proposal, you need to come to the trustee’s office to sign the necessary papers. The trustee will then electronically send the consumer proposal to the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy and you are under the protection you need from your debts.
You must have the assistance of a trustee to file the consumer proposal. You cannot file it on your own or with the help of anyone other than a trustee. Even though we live in an electronic age, the only one who can electronically file your consumer proposal with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy is the trustee. That is why we are trained and licensed by the federal government.
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Does location matter?
For most people, it’s generally easiest to come to the office closest to where you live or work. At Hoyes Michalos, we have offices throughout Southern and Southwestern Ontario and find that people file in the location of their convenience. They may live in Hamilton, but work in Mississauga; so Mississauga becomes their choice.
That’s at a city level. However, in Canada, does it matter what province you file in?
In today’s economic climate, it is quite common to meet people who live in one province, but are working in another province. What happens then?
Your locality is defined in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act as:
- a) Where the debtor has carried on business during the year immediately preceding the date of the initial bankruptcy event [filing the consumer proposal];
- b) Where the debtor has resided during the year immediately preceding the date of the initial bankruptcy event; or
- c) In cases not coming within paragraph (a) or (b), where the greater portion of the property of the debtor is situated.
What this means is that if you work in Alberta for 6 week shifts, but you live in Windsor, Ontario, you would file your consumer proposal in Windsor.
Can I start the process in one province, but finish in another?
Let’s say you have a free consultation with us in Toronto and then move to another province before you sign the consumer proposal. You will need to meet with a trustee in the new city you are now living in, to start the process over again.
If you have already filed the consumer proposal with us and then you move to another province, we will continue to administer your consumer proposal. If you have not yet completed your two credit counselling sessions, we can help you find someone local to you to provide those sessions for you.
What are my options if I cannot come to the office?
The legislation states that you have to attend in person to sign your papers. We are unable to accept your signature by email, fax or sending the paperwork to you at home to have you sign it.
If you have a power of attorney and they are authorized to sign paperwork on your behalf, the power of attorney can come to our office to sign the papers for you.
What if I live outside of Canada?
This is a common occurrence, especially in Windsor. Quite often, I meet with people who work in Michigan, but are dealing with Canadian debts. While living outside of Canada does give them a certain amount of protection from their creditors, most people want a plan to deal with their debts and to stop the collection calls.
If you have a power of attorney who lives near one of our offices, he or she can sign the paperwork on your behalf.
If you are able to come to our office and you have a local (to our office) address, you can still file a consumer proposal. We can arrange the consultation over the phone and email you the list of documents we need to proceed. You can then email or fax back to us the necessary documents we need. We will then arrange a time for you to come to our office and sign the consumer proposal paperwork. It is important to understand that in addition to coming to our office to sign the necessary paperwork, you will also have to come back to our office for your 2 credit counselling sessions.
If you neither have a power of attorney or you don’t have a Canadian address, you are not able to file a consumer proposal in Canada. In that case, you may want to meet with a local credit counsellor to see if they can help you negotiate with your creditors, however, they will not be able to provide you any protection under the Bankruptcy & Insolvency Act as only a licensed Canadian bankruptcy trustee can provide those services.
At Hoyes Michalos, more than two-thirds of our clients file a consumer proposal. A consumer proposal is now Canada’s #1 alternative to bankruptcy. If you need debt help, contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll help you determine if a consumer proposal is the right debt relief solution for you.