Can They Garnishee my Pension in Ontario?

May 7, 2011

Question: Can they garnishee my pension?  If I go bankrupt in Ontario will that stop the garnishment?

Answer: Under the Ontario Pension Benefits Act it is not possible for a normal creditor (like a credit card company, or a bank) to garnishee your pension.  Garnishments are only possible under the Ontario Wages Act, and since a pension is not a wage, it’s not subject to garnishment.

However, if you are getting a government pension, like CPP or OAS, and you owe the government money, such as for back taxes, then yes, the government can “garnishee” your pension.  Technically they are not garnisheeing it; they are simply “offsetting” what you owe them, with what they owe you.

Also, once your pension is deposited into your bank account, it’s not a pension anymore; it’s cash, and yes, any creditor can attempt to get a court order to seize your bank account.  Even worse, if you owe money to Bank ABC, and you have cash in your Bank ABC bank account, the bank can “offset” what you owe them with what’s in your bank account.

If you owe money, and your only income is from a pension, you could simply open a new bank account at a new bank, where you don’t owe money, and it is highly unlikely any creditor will be able to seize it (since they don’t know where it is).

Alternatively, you could file bankruptcy in Ontario, which would eliminate the debt, so that is also an option.

See also our article on how to stop a wage garnishment in Ontario.

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