Bankruptcy, insolvency and unpaid wages
Learn what to do if your employer is bankrupt or insolvent, and owes you unpaid wages or other payments.
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This page is for employees of companies that are bankrupt and insolvent.
Bankruptcy law falls under federal jurisdiction and the following federal laws may be relevant to you if you have not been paid your wages due to bankruptcy and insolvency:
- Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA)
- Companies’ Creditor Arrangement Act (CCAA)
- Wage Earner Protection Program Act (WEPPA)
You must follow the claim processes found in federal laws to attempt to recover money you believe your employer owes you. As a first step, you will need to file a “proof of claim” form with either:
- your company’s trustee in bankruptcy
- your company’s receiver
For more information about federal bankruptcy and insolvency laws, please visit Service Canada or contact a lawyer.
In some cases, you may also be able to file a claim provincially under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). Generally, when individuals or corporations are in bankruptcy and insolvency, an employment standards officer will be limited in the action they can take.
If your employer is bankrupt or in receivership
If your employer filed for bankruptcy or is in receivership and they owe you wages, contact either:
- your company’s trustee
- your company’s receiver
- Service Canada
You will likely receive a package of information from a trustee or court-appointed receiver.
The package will guide you on how to file a proof of claim in a bankruptcy and insolvency proceeding. A proof of claim is a form you fill out that helps establish your claim. The trustee or receiver may be able to help you complete it.
If you do not receive a package, contact Service Canada at
In some circumstances, if you have filed a proof of claim for unpaid wages in a bankruptcy or receivership, and the claim has not been paid, you can also file a claim under the Employment Standards Act.
When your employer is bankrupt or in receivership, an employment standards officer may have the power to investigate:
- if your employer is a corporation. Directors of a corporation may be found liable for certain unpaid wages (with the exception of unpaid termination or severance pay) if a proof of claim was filed in a bankruptcy/receivership and it has not been paid
- if, under the ESA, a separate employer is a “related employer” to an insolvent business. The related employer may have liability for unpaid wages
Bankruptcy and insolvency are complicated areas of law and the specific actions that an officer can take will depend on each case.
If your employer is insolvent
If your employer owes creditors more than $5 million, they can try to rearrange their debts to avoid bankruptcy. Under the federal Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), the courts will appoint a monitor to supervise the company’s restructuring.
You should contact the CCAA monitor for information and help in recovering the money you are owed. Contact information for monitors is available on the Public Registry. If you are part of a union, you can also contact your union for more information.
If an employer is involved in CCAA proceedings, an employment standards officer may be prevented from taking action against the employer and/or its directors.
Wage protection program
If you employer has filed for bankruptcy, is subject to a receivership, or another insolvency proceeding, and you have lost your job and are owed wages, you may be eligible to receive payment under the federal Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP).
All inquiries regarding the WEPP, including how much you could receive and eligibility requirements, should be made to Service Canada. Visit the WEPP webpage or call the WEPP information line at