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Affidavits

Affidavits

A Commissioner for Taking Affidavits is also commonly known as a Commissioner of Oaths. A Head of Council has the authority to act in this capacity.

A Commissioner is a person who can legally administer an oath, affirmation or declaration to a person making an affidavit. An affidavit is a written statement confirmed or declaration of facts that are sworn or affirmed to be true. 

The associated duties and powers of a Commissioner are set out in the Commissioners for taking Affidavits Act and Commissioners and Other Persons Who May Take Affidavits regulation.

 

Responsibilities

A Commissioner may be called into court to establish that the oath, affirmation or declaration was administered properly. You may be personally liable for improperly taking affidavits or declarations. Section 10 of the Commissioner for Taking Affidavits Act makes it an offence, punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 for a commissioner to:

  • Sign a jurat or declaration without satisfying himself or herself of the genuineness of the signature of the deponent or declarant; or
  • Fail to administer the oath or declaration in the manner required by law beforesigning the jurat or declaration.

Additionally, section 138 of the Criminal Code of Canada makes it an indictable offence, punishable by up to two years imprisonment, to sign a writing that purports to be an affidavit or statutory declaration and to have been sworn or declared by him or her when:

  • The writing was not so sworn or declared; or
  • The person knows that he or she has no authority to administer the oath or declaration.

Steps for taking written declarations or affidavits

There are three steps for taking written declarations and affidavits:

1. Verify the signature

  • It is your obligation to satisfy yourself of the genuineness of the signature.
  • The affidavit or declaration must be signed in your presence
  • The deponent/declarant must provide proof of identity

2. Administer the declaration, oath or affirmation

3. Complete the jurat

  • The jurat is the part of the document where you certify when and where you took the affidavit or declaration. It is normally written at the foot of the document.

Additional tips

  • The person requiring a Commissioner to sign a document must be present before the Commissioner at the time the oath or declaration is administered.
  • Ask to see the person's identification with a signature (such as a driver's licence or passport), if the Member does not know the person.
  • Make the person aware of the force and effect of the declaration. A person may swear, affirm or declare the declaration. It is appropriate to first ask the individual if he or she wishes to swear, affirm or declare its contents. A Bible is not required for the swearing of an affidavit.
  • Check the document to see if there are any changes such as smudges, cross outs or erasures. If any of these changes are present at the time of signing, both the Member and the person must place their initials beside each change.

Examples of what you can and cannot commission

The Head of Council can decide whether or not they wish to commission documents. The following are examples of affidavits that him/her may be asked to sign:

  • Adult or child change of name application
  • Affidavit of service
  • Affidavit on land transfer tax form
  • Affidavit of responsibility (sponsoring family visiting Canada)
  • Immunization declaration - Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief Affidavit
  • Insurance document affidavits
  • Lost cheque or savings bond affidavits
  • Motor vehicle transfer
  • Passport - statutory declaration in lieu of guarantor
  • Permanent Residency Card

A Commissioner does not certify that the statements being made in the affidavit or statutory declaration are true, but only certifies that an oath or solemn affirmation has been administered properly. 

 

A Commissioner is not a Notary Public

A Commissioner is not a notary public. A notary public is someone who can also verify that signatures, marks and copies of documents are true or genuine.

Always review the document you are asked to sign to make sure that you have authority to do so as a Commissioner. Where it is stated that a notary public is required, you do not have the authority to sign the document.

Other Commissioners

Specific Municipal staff are designated as Commissioners. Some examples of documents include

  • Affidavits to the Integrity Commissioner
  • Alive and well letters
  • Assessment rolls
  • Candidate nomination papers and financial statements
  • Council, committee and Community Council documents
  • Name change applications
  • Proof of ownership/tenancy status
  • Proxy forms
  • Motor Vehicle Transfer Declaration
  • Certain Statutory Declarations that specifically name a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits