In this project, the Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) has undertaken law reform of the most classical type: the review of a statute enacted in 1891 that on its face is significantly outdated and possibly obsolete.

Under the Forestry Workers Lien for Wages Act[1] (the Act), forestry workers are entitled to claim a lien for wages on certain wood products. Since enactment, the forestry industry has changed significantly, yet the Act’s terminology and procedures remain cast in 1891. Its frame of reference and procedural mechanisms can fairly be described as antiquated. The outdated drafting of the Act frustrates rather than assists parties’ attempts to protect their supposed rights under it, as complex and costly litigation is required to determine the activities and products covered under the Act. The difficulties with the Act were drawn to the LCO’s attention by Senior Regional Justice Pierce.  Senior Regional Justice Pierce was required to apply a number of the outdated provisions in the Act in the Buchanan case, which revealed the difficulties involved in applying those provisions to the modern logging industry.[2] 

This Consultation Paper considers the problems with the Act, canvasses the options for reform, and discusses the issues that any reforms must address. Chapter II briefly explains how the industry has changed from the time the Act was passed to the present day. Chapter III discusses the origin of the law of liens and the current state of the law. It also highlights the major problems with the Act. Chapter IV outlines the various options for reforming the statute, while Chapter V considers in greater detail the aspects of the statute that require attention, from the outdated definition of logging work to the prospect of a central lien registry.

Public input is an essential part of this reform process. The paper provides questions for feedback at the end of each chapter (collated in Appendix B). The LCO seeks comments in response to these questions or any other issues relevant to the Act. Comments can be provided in writing, including by email or in the comment box on our website, by telephone, by web conferencing and in person. More information on how to make comments and be part of the consultation process in this project is included at the end of this Consultation Paper in Chapter VI.


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