The Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario (the
"Ministry") has announced that it is seeking public
consultation regarding its proposal to implement An Unclaimed Intangible Property Program (the
"Program"). The Program is intended to (1) allow owners
to become reunited with unclaimed intangible property and (2) allow
such property to be used for the benefit of all Ontarians until it
is reclaimed. The creation of a centralized registry of unclaimed
intangible property that is easily accessible by the public is a
key feature of the proposed Program.
According to the Ministry, millions of dollars worth of
intangible property remains unclaimed by the rightful owners in
various institutions across Ontario. Such unclaimed intangible
property includes amounts due under insurance policies and
interests represented by instruments such as share certificates and
Intangible property may go unclaimed for many reasons. For
instance, owners may have forgotten about their property or may
have died without alerting their family or guardians to the
existence of such property.
Often, lost or forgotten intangible property is left in the
possession of a financial institution; however, the financial
institution is not the rightful owner of such property. In this
regard, a financial institution may be burdened with the possession
of unclaimed intangible property.
Although Ontario passed the Unclaimed Intangible Property
Act in 1989, the statute was never proclaimed into force. It
is intended that the Program consider legislative developments
In 2003, the Uniform Law Conference of Canada developed the
Uniform Intangible Property Act (the "Uniform
Act"), intended to be used as a model by Canada's
provinces and territories in designing legislation. Provinces and
territories are free to choose elements of the Uniform Act as they
see fit. Key aspects of the Uniform Act include a process by which
holders of unclaimed property are able to notify owners of such
property and the establishment of a public registry of unclaimed
Comprehensive unclaimed intangible property programs have been
implemented in Québec (in 1997), British Columbia (in 1999)
and Alberta (in 2008).
CONSULTATION PROCESS – SUBMISSION DEADLINE OCTOBER
The Ministry has launched a consultation process to allow the
public to provide feedback on the key features of the Program,
which will be set out in the bill to be introduced in the Ontario
Legislature. The Ministry has highlighted the following four
guiding principles that the public should consider when answering
the nine specific questions posed in the consultation document:
Unclaimed intangible property should not rest with holders of
the properly (who are not the owners of the property) indefinitely
and owners of unclaimed property should have an effective mechanism
to identify and recover it.
The government should be responsible for administering a
program to enable Ontarians to be reunited with their intangible
property once it has become unclaimed.
Until that property is claimed, the property would be used for
the benefit of Ontarians.
Any additional burden to holders of unclaimed intangible
property associated with the Program should be minimized to the
extent possible. This may be achieved by legislation that is
generally consistent with those of other jurisdictions.
The Program will be most relevant to all life insurance
companies that have unclaimed funds.
MAKING A WRITTEN SUBMISSION
Submissions must be forwarded to the Ministry by October
12, 2012 and may be forwarded in the following manner:
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Unclaimed Intangible
Property Program Consultation" as the subject line.
Ministry of the Attorney General
720 Bay Street, 7th Floor
Toronto, ON M7A 2S9
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