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Two Canadian Provinces Consider Unclaimed Property Legislation

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Manitoba are in different stages of considering legislation to formalize unclaimed property processes. Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec are the only provinces that currently have unclaimed property programs currently in place. 

 

In New Brunswick, the legislature is considering Bill 22, the Unclaimed Property Act, introduced on Nov. 29, 2019. The proposed legislation would require holders to send notices to owners’ last known address for any unclaimed property valued at more than $100, between 90 and 180 days before submitting a report to the provinces director of unclaimed property. 

 

Bill 22 sets a reporting deadline of April 1, and the director may request extensions if satisfied that there are reasonable grounds. Upon the legislation’s implementation, holders would be expected to report any property presumed to be unclaimed five years or less before it took effect. Failure to report subjects holders to interest and late fees.

 

Although Manitoba has not yet introduced legislation, the Manitoba Law Reform Commission issued a report in October examining a possible unclaimed  property program for the province. Abandoned and Missing Money: Establishing a Process for Unclaimed Intangible Personal Property explores unclaimed property programs in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, as well as the Uniform Law Conference of Canada’s Uniform Unclaimed Intangible Property Act, draft legislation established in 2003 to promote uniformity between provinces.

 

The report includes 10 questions for consideration and invites interested parties to comment by the end of 2019. Questions include: 

  1. Do you think that an unclaimed personal property regime should be established in Manitoba? 
  2. What types of property should be included or excluded in an unclaimed property regime in Manitoba? 
  3. Are there any types of intangible personal property that pose unique challenges in terms of adapting to an unclaimed property regime? 
  4. How should “holder” be defined? 
  5. Should it be mandatory for some or all holders to remit property to the administrator? 
  6. What responsibilities should holders have in relation to unclaimed property? 
  7. What administrative structure would best serve the purposes of an unclaimed intangible property regime? 
  8. What should the responsibilities of the administrator of unclaimed property be? 
  9. Should Manitoba adopt a similar claim process to the process set out under the ULCC Act and the enacting jurisdictions?  
  10. How can the process for escheated corporate property under The Corporations Act together with The Escheats Act be improved? 

“The Commission believes there are advantages to adopting unclaimed personal property legislation in Manitoba,” the report concludes. “In reaching this conclusion, the Commission emphasizes that an unclaimed personal property scheme is appropriate only for uncontested types of property. In other words, the intention is to allocate funds where there is no dispute as to the rightful owner and the apparent owner is able to establish a legal claim. The purpose of the scheme, therefore, is to facilitate the process so that owners are reunited with their property is a way that is efficient for the government to administer and accessible for apparent owners to use.” 

 

Tags:  Canada  Manitoba  New Brunswick 

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