The Limitations Act, SM 2021, c 44 (the "New Act") repeals and replaces the current legislation, The Limitations of Actions Act, CCSM c L150 (the "Old Act"). The New Act comes into force on September 30, 2022 and brings Manitoba in line with other provinces' legislation on limitation periods.

There are 11 major changes in the New Act to be aware of. Those changes are summarized here, with a longer article explaining the changes linked below:

  1. The Old Act provided for limitation periods ranging from 1 to 10 years. The New Act replaces those with a limitation period of 2 years for most claims.
  2. The 2 year limitation period under the New Act begins to run from the day the claim is discovered, not when the cause of action arose, as was the case for most claims under the Old Act.
  3. Limitation periods under the Old Act generally prevailed over other acts, subject to certain exceptions. If a provision of the New Act is inconsistent with a provision of another Act, that other Act prevails.
  4. The ultimate limitation period has been shortened from 30 years to 15 years under the New Act, subject to certain exceptions.
  5. Under the New Act, a limitation period does not run during any time a stay of proceedings is in effect under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Canada), the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (Canada) or the Farm Debt Mediation Act (Canada).
  6. Certain assaults (sexual assaults or assaults where the claimant had an intimate relationship with the alleged assaulter or certain dependency on the alleged assaulter) continue to have no limitation period. However, the New Act broadens the language from "an action for assault" to "a claim relating to "an assault as described above as well as adds five other situations where the ultimate limitation period does not apply.
  7. The complex provisions relating to charges on land under the Old Act have been done away with and these claims appear to now be caught by the 2 year basic limitation period under the New Act.
  8. However, claims to recover possession of land are not subject to the 2 year basic limitation period under the New Act, but rather a period of 15 years.
  9. The New Act contains more detailed provisions relating to the acknowledgement of debts and what is required to restart the limitation period.
  10. The New Act specifically provides for the amendment of pleadings despite the expiry of a limitation period if certain conditions are met.
  11. The New Act explicitly provides that a limitation period may be extended, but not shortened, in writing. However, the ultimate limitation period of 15 years cannot be extended.

Importantly, proceedings commenced under the Old Act will still be governed by the Old Act. However, if a claim is discovered before September 30, 2022, and a proceeding is not commenced prior to that date, then a proceeding must be commenced before the earlier of:

  1. 2 years after the New Act comes into force; and
  2. the day the limitation period under the Old Act expires or would expire.

In order to avoid possible problems, it will be important for counsel and parties to familiarize themselves with the applicable limitation periods under the New Act, and the transitional provisions to determine whether the Old Act or New Act will apply.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.