Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP)

If you are an employee legally entitled to work in Canada, you have certain protections under the Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP) Act concerning payment of your wages, vacation, severance and termination pay if your employer becomes bankrupt or subject to a receivership under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA). This section provides you with detailed information about those rights and the steps you can take to recover outstanding wages.

The eligibility period for the Program was expanded to cover employees who lose their jobs during an employer's attempt at restructuring which subsequently ends in bankruptcy or receivership. Expanding coverage of the WEPP means more Canadian workers qualify for WEPP support and also allows for higher average monetary claims.

The expanded WEPP coverage applies to employees whose employer went bankrupt or entered into receivership after June 5, 2011.

Compensation

The Wage Earner Protection Program provides guaranteed and timely payment of wages, vacation, severance and termination pay that are owed to eligible workers, up to an amount equalling four weeks' of maximum insurable earnings under the Employment Insurance (EI) Act.

An individual whose employment is terminated and who is owed unpaid eligible wages will need to file a proof of claim with the trustee or receiver as soon as possible after their employer has filed for bankruptcy or is subject to a receivership.

WEPP payments to compensate employees' for unpaid eligible wage claims are reduced by any amount paid to them after the date of bankruptcy or receivership, and are also subject to a reduction (offset) in the amount of 6.82% as prescribed by the WEPP Regulations. Additional information on bankruptcy and receivership can be found on the website of the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy.

More information on WEPP compensation is available on the Service Canada website.

Applying for benefits under the WEPP

If your employer has filed for bankruptcy or is subject to a receivership and you are owed wages, vacation, severance or termination pay after your employment ended, then you need to apply through Service Canada.

Subrogating my claim to the Government of Canada

When a worker applies for payment from the WEPP, he or she automatically agrees to sign over his or her wage claim to the Government of Canada, up to the amount of the payment received from the Program.

The Government of Canada will undertake to recuperate amounts it paid under the Program from the estate or property of the insolvent employer when assets are distributed through the bankruptcy and receivership processes.

Not qualifying for compensation from the WEPP

In addition to establishing the WEPP, the insolvency reform legislation enacted a new "limited super-priority" provision within the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) which puts unpaid wage and vacation pay claims ahead of secured creditors over the current assets of the insolvent employer's estate or property, up to a maximum of $2,000 per claim.

An individual who does not qualify for compensation from the WEPP may be able to pursue the wage claim through the limited super-priority up to a $2,000 cap and the existing preferred creditor status for the remaining of the claim.

You are encouraged to contact the trustee or receiver appointed to your employer's bankruptcy or receivership to obtain more information on pursuing a wage claim under the new limited super-priority provisions.

Requesting a Review

The WEPP provides applicants with the right to request a review by the Minister of Labour if they are not satisfied with the eligibility decision made on their claim. There is no cost for requesting a review.

You have 30 days from the date of the decision to request a review, unless circumstances beyond your control prevent you from doing so. Your request should explain why you are requesting the review, and the reasons for any delay in filing, should that be the case.

Please fill out the Request for Review by Minister form, also available from any Service Canada Centre, and mail it to:

WEPP Processing Centre
P.O. Box 5900
Cornwall, ON
K6H 6J6

You may be contacted by an officer in the WEPP Review and Appeal office if additional information or clarification is needed.

You will be notified in writing of the review decision.

Although a decision taken after a review by the Minister of Labour is final, you may appeal the decision based on matters of law or jurisdiction.

Requesting an Appeal

If you do not agree with the decision made on your review request, you may request an appeal on matters of law or jurisdiction. There is no cost for requesting an appeal.

The Minister of Labour will appoint an adjudicator to examine the decision. The adjudicator will consider whether the Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP) Act and its regulations were respected, and whether the Minister of Labour or officials appointed by the Minister acted within their jurisdiction.

You have 60 days from the date you received the review decision to file an appeal, unless circumstances beyond your control prevent you from doing so. Please fill out the Notice to Appeal to Adjudicator form available from any Service Canada Centre and mail it to:

WEPP Processing Centre
P.O. Box 5900
Cornwall, ON
K6H 6J6

No new information can be presented before the adjudicator.

The adjudicator can summon you for a meeting if clarification on your file is required.

You will be notified in writing once a decision is rendered. The notification will also detail the reasons for the decision.