Monday, 1 October 2012

Garnishment of Wages Blog Series Part 1 of 3 - What is a Wage Garnishment?

A garnishment of wages is one of the most common and effective enforcement methods used to collect money through the Small Claims Court by the Canada Revenue Agency, O.S.A.P, and Family Responsibility. 

A garnishment of wages occurs when you have defaulted on a debt and the party you owe money to serves your employer with a legal notice to garnish your wages (i.e. pay some portion of them to that party). Only the government, like the Canada Revenue Agency, Ministry of Finance, Provincial and Federal Student Loans, etc… have the power to garnish your wages without a court order.

For a private company to garnish your wages they must sue you in court, obtain a judgement against you and have an order from the court to garnish your wages. So, if a private company is trying to collect money from you, the garnishment must be sent to your employer in the form of an order from the court that issued the judgement.

A garnishment of wages from Family Responsibility will not occur unless the court has ordered you to pay child support and you go into arrears and the Family Responsibility office enforces the court order through a wage garnishment.

The amount of a garnishment of wages can vary depending on the type of debt you have and who is issuing the wage garnishment. Here are some Canadian examples:

1.       A wage garnishment issued through the Ontario Small Claims Court will require that your employer remit 20% of your net earnings to the Small Claims Court to then be distributed to your creditor.

2.       A wage garnishment from Family Responsibility could involve a garnishment of up to 50% of your earnings.

3.       A wage garnishment from the Canada Revenue Agency could involve a garnishment of up to 100% of your earnings depending on the type of income that you have.

Most people find themselves wondering “what is a wage garnishment” once they have been threatened with one.

Once a wage garnishment is sent to your employer it can be humiliating and leave you feeling powerless. Your employer must garnish your wages or they can find themselves in trouble. If you have a job that requires you to demonstrate financial responsibility this could pose challenges to your employability.

If you have been threatened with a garnishment of wages the question should not be “what is a wage garnishment” but rather “what can you do to avoid a wage garnishment”. This will likely require professional counsel, and not that of a lawyer but of a financial professional who has experience working with people who have had wage garnishments and who is capable of helping you through your financial problem.

Wage garnishments that are the result of unpaid child support will leave you little in the way of options, other than to return to court and request that a judge reduce the amount of the garnishment. If you are being threatened with a wage garnishment from the CRA or a creditor, you definitely have more options, even if your wages are already being garnished.

Now that we have answered the question “what is a wage garnishment”, the next thing you will want to do is learn how you can stop one. This question is answered in our next blog “how to stop a wage garnishment”.

If your wages are being garnished or you are being threatened with a wage garnishment, time is of the essence. Contact DebtCare Canada today by calling 416-907-2582 or visit to find out your options.


  1. Hello,
    Wage garnishments do not incorporate voluntary wage garnishments. Some debtor's could voluntarily consort with their employers to turn more than a specified amount of their earnings to a creditor to absolve the debt voluntarily, with no the use of a court order.New Jersey Lawyer

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