Bankruptcy and Insolvency at a Glance

The Options

If you are investigating a proposal for your incorporated business (or unincorporated partnership that your Licensed Insolvency Trustee advises can file as a business) that owes money, your company’s options at a glance are different. Corporations have business-specific options because they are legally recognized as “persons” separate from the individuals who own them.


Bankruptcy is a legal process designed to relieve honest but unfortunate debtors of their debts.

At the end of the process, the bankrupt is released from the obligation to repay the debts they had when the bankruptcy was filed (with some exceptions).


A proposal is an offer to creditors to pay a percentage of what is owed over a specific period of time, or to extend the amount of time to pay off the debt, or a combination of both. Creditors vote to accept or reject the proposal.

There are two types of proposals:

Once all the terms of the proposal are met, the debtor is legally released from the debts included in the proposal.

The Main Stakeholders

Debtor (owes money)

A debtor is an insolvent person who is unable to pay their debts when they are due. A bankrupt is an insolvent person who has filed for bankruptcy.


The debtor must:

  • attend two financial counselling sessions; and
  • assist the Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) in administering the bankruptcy or proposal.

In addition, the bankrupt must:

  • disclose all of their assets (property) and debts to the LIT;
  • advise the LIT of any property disposed of in the past few years; and
  • surrender all credit cards to the LIT.

Creditors (are owed money)

There are three main types of creditors: secured, unsecured and preferred.


The role of creditors is to:

  • participate in and vote at meetings of creditors;
  • appoint inspectors;
  • serve as an inspector; and
  • inform the LIT of any irregularities on the part of the debtor or bankrupt.

Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT)

LITs are licensed by the OSB and are officers of the court.


The LIT:

  • administers proposals and bankruptcies;
  • protects the rights of creditors;
  • investigates the affairs of the debtor; and
  • ensures the rights of the debtor are not abused.

Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB)

The OSB supervises the administration of bankruptcies and proposals under the BIA.


The OSB:

  • maintains records of proceedings under the BIA and the CCAA;
  • records and investigates complaints;
  • licenses the LIT; and
  • sets and enforces professional standards for the administration of estates.

The Legislation

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA)

Wage Earner Protection Program Act

Delivered by Service Canada, the Wage Earner Protection Program compensates eligible workers when their employer declares bankruptcy.