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Public Administration and Public Policy: Legislation & Court Decisions

Citations to Legislation

Given that there are sometimes pieces of legislation with very similar titles across Canada, here are some tips to determine which jurisdiction the legislation applies to:

S.C. = Statutes of Canada (annual volumes)

R.S.C. or R.S. = Revised Statutes of Canada (most recent is R.S.C. 1985)

S.S = Statutes of Saskatchewan (annual volumes)

R.S.S. = Revised Statutes of Saskatchewan (most recent is R.S.S. 1978)

Both the annual statutes and the revised statues are official legislation passed by the legislature.  Consolidated statutes are generally unofficial compilations of the law as it exists at the time of the consolidation, so make sure to check the date of the consolidation as subsequent amendments may exist.

Queen's University has provided a good primer on Legal Citation.

Parliament, Provincial and Territorial Legislatures

All legislative assemblies in Canada have been very active in making as much information as possible about their work freely available.

Parliament

The best place to start to look for information on current and older (back to about the mid-1990s currently) federal legislation is LEGISinfo.

LEGISinfo is an essential research tool for finding information on legislation currently before Parliament. This tool provides electronic access to a wide range of information about individual bills, such as:

  • the text of the bill at various stages;
  • government press releases and backgrounders (for government bills);
  • legislative summaries from the Parliamentary Information and Research Service;
  • important speeches at second reading;
  • votes; and
  • coming into force data.

In addition, LEGISinfo provides: a reading list; and other related Web links for House of Commons and Senate government and some private members bills. By bringing these sources together into one place, LEGISinfo offers easy access to legislative information and reduces time spent researching these matters.

Although legislation constitutes much of the work of Parliament, many other topics are discussed in depth. The search box on Parliament's home page is the place to begin looking for that information.

Provincial and Territorial Legislative Assemblies

Although LEGISinfo and the Parliament of Canada web site in general are the best developed of all the legislative web sites in Canada the provincial and territorial legislative assembly web sites provide much of the same functionality and information, albeit scaled appropriately to the jurisdiction and perhaps varying in how far back in time they go. The web sites are constantly under development and have and will continue to improve.

The Parliament of Canada web site contains a helpful list of links to the provincial and territorial legislative assemblies.

Laws and Court Decisions

Although it is generally possible to find the official site on the web that offers access to, for example, the laws and regulations of Canada or Saskatchewan or a place where decisions from a particular court are posted, there are 2 services that bring most of these sources together.

CanLII is a service funded by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, whose goal it is to to make Canadian law accessible for free on the web.

CanLII contains links to the full text of federal and provincial statutes and regulations, almost all court decisions and the decisions of many administrative tribunals. It is a great one-stop-shopping point for Canadian legal information.

Note: CanLII can be slow in updating information and can be incomplete, particularly for indexing decisions of some administrative boards and tribunals. You are responsible for ensuring that the legal information you are using is accurate, complete and up-to-date.