Can 407 Etr Toll Charges Be Included In A Bankruptcy

2014-05-27

David Gowling

In Ontario, many people in financial trouble list 407 ETR (the world’s first all-electronic open access toll highway) among their debts when they file a bankruptcy. Historically, 407 ETR has taken the position the debt survives bankruptcy because they have an arrangement with the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) to refuse to renew a license plate sticker until the debt is paid. The issue was whether the bankruptcy (or consumer proposal) would cause the debt to be eliminated and prevent MTO or 407 ETR from collecting the debt. The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB), Canada’s bankruptcy regulator, stepped in for a bankrupt individual who had sued and lost against the 407 ETR after being discharged from bankruptcy. The OSB appealed the decision and won their appeal in December 2013 for the reasons they identified below:

1)      It helps our clients to receive the fresh start that they deserve. When catastrophe strikes, it sometimes is impossible to dig yourself out of that financial hole you’ve found yourself buried in. By filing a bankruptcy (or consumer proposal) you are allowing yourself to start fresh and move past the overwhelming debt that was holding you down. 

2)      It ensures that the 407 ETR is treated the same as all other unsecured creditors, rather than creating for themselves a class of their own based on a partnership with the Ontario government. 

It would seem the appeal made the situation clearer, but then 407 ETR appealed the decision to the Supreme Court and received a Stay (a freeze) on this decision until the Supreme Court gives its decision.

At present, there is an ongoing class action lawsuit submitted by those who filed a bankruptcy or consumer proposal and were still required to pay the toll fees in order to renew their license plate. More information on the lawsuit can be found at www.classactionlaw.ca   

Hopefully within the next few months we will have a clear answer on just where people stand when it comes to unpaid toll fees. 

If you are struggling with unmanageable debt, contact us at 310-DEBT (3328) or your local MNP office to discuss your options.