Ontario to be 4th Province to Implement Canadian Unclaimed Property Laws

Canadian FlagCanadian Unclaimed Property laws are likely to expand, as Ontario has announced its intent to implement an “Unclaimed Intangible Property Program” that was originally drafted over 20 years ago. The law in 1992 was passed by Parliament, given Royal assent but was never proclaimed.  This new measure is one of many included within the proposed 2012 Ontario budget designed to reduce a $16-billion provincial deficit and balance the budget over the next five years.

The exact language of the excerpt is as follows:

The government intends to move forward with the establishment of an Unclaimed Intangible Property Program to reunite owners with their unclaimed property and, until it is claimed, allow the money to be used for the benefit of Ontarians. Unclaimed intangible property generally includes but is not limited to insurance policies, returned stocks and bonds, bank deposits, unpaid wages, and pension benefits.

If enacted, Ontario will be the 4th province to implement some form of Canadian Unclaimed Property laws.  Below are brief summaries of the individual provincial policies in Alberta, British Columbia, and Québec.

Alberta

Alberta enacted the Unclaimed Personal Property and Vested Property Act and Regulation in September of 2008. The Alberta Finance, Tax and Revenue Administration (TRA) provides a searchable directory for Albertans and assists them in claiming any financial assets that are theirs. The dormancy periods range from one to fifteen years based on the individual property types, but includes life insurance policies, retirement savings plans, stock certificates, security properties, and bank accounts. The full list of unclaimed property types and their corresponding dormancy periods can be found at the Alberta TRA website.

British Columbia

British Columbia enacted its version of Canadian Unclaimed Property laws in July of 1999, which is contained within their Unclaimed Property Act. Property types included under the Act and Regulation include uncashed checks, money orders, securities, and insurance proceeds, among others. The dormancy periods vary by property type and range between three and five years. The full text of the Unclaimed Property Act and Regulation can be found at the British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society website.

Québec

Québec has had an unclaimed property law in place since 1999, and declares that financial assets are entered into the register of unclaimed property after a dormancy period of three years. The list of eligible financial assets includes safety deposit box contents, account balances in savings or credit unions, indemnities or benefits from life insurance, checks and money orders, security accounts, and pension or retirement plan proceeds. As part of the Unclaimed Property Act of June 2011, Revenue Québec must maintain an inventory of what is currently being held as unclaimed property and make the information available to citizens on their website or publish the information in major newspapers across Québec. Additional information can be found at the Revenu Québec website.

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