Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Canadian Legal Research

This guide details researching Canadian law at the federal and provincial level.

Federal Statutes & Legislation

Background Information

The secondary sources listed below provide helpful background information about Canadian statutes and regulations, how to understand and interpret the, and how to update them.: 

Free Electronic Sources

The federal Department of Justice and the Canadian Legal Information Institute provide free online access to federal statutes.  The Canada Gazette, which publishes newly enacted federal statutes in chronological order, is available online from 1998-present.  The Canadian Parliament's website provides bill tracking information from 2001-present.

  • Justice Laws Website -- Federal Department of Justice
    The website of Canada's Department of Justice provides free online access to consolidated federal statutes and federal session laws.  Content includes the following:
     
    • Consolidated Acts (current statutes)
      This collection of statutes currently in force incorporates all subsequent amendments made to the statutes after their initial enactment.   As of June 1, 2009, all consolidated acts posted on this website constitute the official, authoritative versions of the statutes and thus may be used for evidentiary purposes.
       
      • Browse alphabetically by popular name (default setting) or search by keyword using the Basic Search template or the Advanced Search template. 
      • By default, the current (consolidated) version of each statute is displayed.  To view prior versions, that were in effect at a specified point in time, click on the appropriate link at the top of the screen. 
      • All content may be downloaded in PDF format.
         
    • Table of Public Statutes and Responsible Ministers
      Use this resource to track all changes made to federal statutes after their initial enactment and to determine which federal minister is responsible for enforcing a particular statute.
       
    • Annual Statutes (unofficial session laws; 2001-present)
      Each annual statutory compilation includes all public general acts enacted by the Parliament of Canada during a specified calendar year in chronological order.  Annual statutes appear as they were originally enacted without any subsequent revisions or amendments, but they are not the official versions.  For online access to official versions of federal session laws, see the Canada Gazette, which is described below.
       
  • Canada Gazette (official session laws; 1998-present)
    Part III of Canada's official gazette publishes the official, authoritative versions of all public general acts enacted by Canada's federal Parliament in chronological order in both English and French in parallel columns.  Statutes are published as originally enacted and do not reflect any subsequent revisions or amendments.
     
  • Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)
    CanLII also provides free online access to federal consolidated statutes and federal session laws.  All content is drawn from the Justice Laws Website (see above) and is updated weekly.
     
  • LEGISinfo -- Parliament of Canada
    This legislative database provides detailed information about all bills considered by each chamber of Parliament from 2001-present.  In addition to the title and the bill number, you will find information about the bill's sponsors, an overview of its progress and current status, links to speeches delivered during parliamentary debates, any recorded votes taken on the bill, as well as links to the full text of each published version of the bill.
     
    • Legislation at a Glance provides an overview of the status of all bills considered by the House of Commons and the Senate during the current legislative session.  To view information about bills considered during prior legislative sessions, click on the appropriate link on the right side of the page.
       
    • Bills Before Committee provides the status of bills pending during the current legislative session.
       
    • Search Tools.  To search by title or bill number, use the Basic Search tool displayed on the left side of the LEGISinfo homepage.  To search within the full text of the bill and to limit searches by bill type, legislative chamber, sponsor, date or legislative session, use the Advanced Search template.
       

Subscription Legal Research Platforms

  • Lexis (All Canada Statutes & Legislation)
    This gateway page provides access to both federal and provincial legislation.  Scroll down through the alphabetical list to access the following databases of federal legislation:  Canada Annual Statutes (session laws), Canada Statutes (consolidated legislation currently in force), and Canada Repealed Statutes (no longer in force). 
     
  • Westlaw (Canada Federal Legislation)
    This gateway page provides access to consolidated federal statutes, consolidated federal regulations, and consolidated federal rules in both English and French.  Select the desired content type and language prior to searching or search across all available content.
     
  • HeinOnline (Revised Statutes of Canada -- historical versions only)
    HeinOnline provides electronic access to six editions of the Revised Statutes of Canada, which is a compilation of consolidated federal statutes that was published in print every 15 to 20 years from the late 19th century to the late 20th century.  Hein's coverage includes PDF scans of the following editions:  1886, 1903, 1924, 1952, 1970, and 1985.
     

Print Sources

Canadian federal statutes are available in print on the fifth floor of the Williams Library, but they are no longer updated in print.

  • Acts of the Parliament of CanadaKE89 1951 (1952-2011)
    This official print source contains legislation enacted by Canada's federal Parliament in chronological order in both English and French in parallel columns.  The Law Library's print subscription was cancelled in 2011.  For online access to the official texts of legislation enacted since 2011, see Part III of the Canada Gazette
     
  • Revised Statutes of Canada.  KE89 1985
    This official compilation of consolidated federal statutes ceased publication in print and is no longer being updated.  For online access to current consolidated statutes, visit the Consolidated Acts section of the Justice Laws Website.
     
  • Canada Gazette.  KE116 1867 Micro (microfilm:  1881-1982; microfiche:  1983-2012)
    Newly enacted federal statutes are published in chronological order in both English and French in Part III of Canada's official gazette.  The Law Library has the Canada Gazette in microform from 1881-2012.  The Canada Gazette is available online from 1998-present.
     
  • Canada Statute Citator: R.S.C. 1985.  KE106 .C35 1989 (No longer updated in print.)
    This citator was used to update statutes in print and to monitor pending legislation, but it is no longer updated.  Visit the Consolidated Acts section of the Justice Laws Website for online access to consolidated versions of federal statutes, which incorporate all subsequent revisions and amendments.  Visit the LEGISinfo website of of the Parliament of Canada to track pending legislation.
     
  • Table of Public Statutes; Table of Acts and Responsible Ministers  KE106.5 .T33 (No longer updated.)
    This resource tracks changes made to federal statutes subsequent to their initial enactment.  It also identifies the relevant minister responsible for enforcing each statute, but it is no longer updated in print.  The current version of the Table of Public Statutes/Table of Acts and Responsible Ministers is available online.