Researching Ontario Statutes

Introduction

  • Historically, approximately every 10 years, substantive Ontario statutes were combined with all of their amendments and compiled into one text, the Revised Statutes of Ontario (RSO).
    • The most recent print consolidation available is RSO 1990
    • Statutes included in the RSO are renumbered and reorganized in alphabetical order. Section numbers are also replaced to incorporate all amendments and repeals.
    • It is important to note that the RSO citation is maintained in current online consolidations on e-Laws, which integrates amendments incorporated into the substantive Acts.
  • Like Ontario statutes, substantive regulations and their amendments were consolidated in a publication called the Revised Regulations of Ontario (RRO).
    • The last RRO was in 1990.

Sources

Introduction

  • Ontario statutes are published annually in the Statutes of Ontario (SO): Each volume includes statutes enacted within the calendar year
    • The annual Statutes of Ontario contain both new Acts about substantive matters, as well as statutes whose function is largely to amend other Acts.

Sources

  • E-Laws - Official copies of annual statutes and regulations as registered beginning with 2000
  • LLMC Digital - Scanned copies of the Statutes of Ontario from the 1867/68 up to and including SO 1980
  • HeinOnline - Scanned copies of the Statutes of Ontario from 1867 - 2016
  • Osgoode Digital Commons - Scanned copies of the Statutes of Ontario 1970 to 1999
  • Ontario Gazette - Regulations as filed from 2000 forward
    • For any regulation to have effect it must be filed; a regulation comes into force on the day it is filed, unless otherwise noted in the regulation or in the enabling Act (2006, c 21, Sched F, s 22 (1) (2)).

The Legislative Process

  • In Ontario, a law is created by introducing a public bill or private bill - both can be introduced by a cabinet minister’s government bill, or a private member's bill.
    • Public bills relate to society’s needs or national interests
    • Private bills only deal with individuals or organizations
  • For any bill to become law in Ontario, it must pass through several stages:
    • First Reading: Bill is printed
    • Second Reading: Where much of the debate happens)
    • Consideration in Committee
    • Report Stage: Committee reports back to the House with any suggested amendments
    • Third Reading: Bill put to final vote
  • At each stage, the bill can be debated: Hansard/the Debates contain verbatim transcripts of what members of the house said about the contents of the bill; and Committee Reports outline findings and recommendations for changes in the bill. Examining these sources can help you determine the legislative intent of the bill.
  • After three readings, the bill continues to the Lieutenant Governor for Royal Assent. Bills become law only after they have received Assent.
  • Learn more about the legislative process: How Bills become Law from the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
  • Once a bill is enacted, it still needs to go through one more stage for the law to take effect: It needs to come into force:
    • Coming into Force (CIF) - A statute comes into force upon Royal Assent, on a day specified in the Act (Legislation Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 21, Sched F, s 9), or "on proclamation," a date decided later by Cabinet.
    • Tip: remember to refer to past versions of the Statutes Act (which was repealed and replaced by the Legislation Act) that was in force at the time of the Act or statute that you are referring to, as the CIF provisions have changed over the years.
    • For additional information please refer to When Do Ontario Acts and Regulations Come Into Force? by the Legislative Research Service.

Sources

  • Ontario Legislative Assembly - Legislative history information for bills beginning with the 36th Parliament, 1st Session (1995-1997), and Debates beginning with 1977
    • Shows the full-text of the bill, the name of the MPP who introduced it and the dates of first reading, second reading, etc. Also included are links to the full-text of debates on the bill, notes, Acts affected as well as other backgrounders.
    • In the library: print collection has Bills 1st Reading (XC 190 .O41) and Bills 3rd Reading (XC 190 .O43) – from the Ontario Legislative Assembly.
  • Historical Index to Ontario Debates - Useful starting point for legislative research (1981-)
  • Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario - Helpful for tracking the status of historical bills (1868-2012)
  • GALLOP portal - The Association of Parliamentary Libraries in Canada
    • Selective pre-1999 content
    • Includes legislative publications such as committee reports, sessional papers, etc. Excludes full-text House docs (Debates, Bills, Journals).
  • Finding Aid for Ontario Hansard - Archives of Ontario

Updated: May 5, 2018 MJames