On the Radar from CLEO
CLEO On The Radar
February 2023
Changes to some Ontario court fees
On January 1, 2023, the government raised some of the fees that people pay to use Ontario's courts. They also made changes to how much money a person can make to qualify for a fee waiver.
Types of court cases that are affected
The fee increases apply to cases in:
  • Small Claims Court, which deals with claims asking for up to $35,000.
  • Family courts, which deal with issues like child support, parenting arrangements, spousal support, property division, and divorce.
  • Civil courts, which deal with claims about estates, wills, and powers of attorney. Some civil courts also hear appeals from other courts and tribunals
Fees charged by tribunals
Many legal issues in Ontario are dealt with by tribunals instead of courts. Some tribunals like the Landlord and Tenant Board have their own fees.
Other tribunals don’t charge fees like the Social Benefits Tribunal and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
Tribunals were not affected by the January 1 increases. But appealing a tribunal decision often means going to court. So those appeals are affected.
Some of the new fees
Legal cases usually have several different steps. Some of these steps involve paying a court fee. The government has a list of the new fees. There are some examples in the chart below.
Type of fee New amount Old amount
Starting a claim in Small Claims Court $108 $102
Filing a defence in Small Claims Court $77 $73
Scheduling a trial in Small Claims Court $308 $290
Filing an application for divorce in family court $214 $202
Appealing the decision of a tribunal or Small Claims Court $243 $229
If someone can't afford to pay
People with low incomes might be able to get a fee waiver, which means they don't have to pay the fees related to their case. There are 3 ways to qualify for a waiver.
1. Amount of income and assets
People whose income and assets are below a certain amount might qualify for fee waivers. When the court fees went up on January 1, these amounts went up too. This means that more people can now qualify for fee waivers.
To qualify for a fee waiver, someone’s gross yearly income cannot be more than a certain amount. That amount depends on the number of people in their household. Gross income is what a person makes before taxes and deductions. The new income levels are in the chart below.
Gross yearly income cannot be more than:
Size of household New amount Old amount
1 person $33,100 $31,200
2 people $49,600 $46,800
3 people $57,300 $54,000
4 people $68,700 $64,800
5 or more people $80,200 $75,600
But even if someone has a low income, they might have too many assets to qualify for a waiver.
For any size of household, the highest net worth they can have and still qualify is $11,100. Net worth is what would be left if everything that someone owns is sold off and all their debts are paid.
The most a household can have in liquid assets and still qualify is $2,800. Liquid assets are money and things that can easily be converted into money, such as stocks, bonds, and Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) that are not locked in.
2. Legal aid
People who are getting help with their case from Legal Aid Ontario or a community legal clinic, don’t have to show their income and assets.
3. Source of income
People also don’t have to show their income and assets if their household's main source of income is one or more of the following:
How to ask for a fee waiver
People must fill out a Fee Waiver Request to Clerk, Registrar or Sheriff and give it to the court office online, by mail, or in person. The court looks at the person’s financial situation and decides whether they qualify.
CLEO has a Guided Pathway that helps people fill out the fee waiver request.
If someone qualifies, they get a certificate to show court staff whenever they're supposed to pay fees in the same court case.
It's important to apply for a fee waiver as early as possible. Even if someone gets a waiver, they don't get back any fees that they already paid.
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Related resources
Have your court fees waived
Government of Ontario
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