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Features - Overview of Sources of Canadian Law on the Web, Revised

By Louise Tsang, Published on December 22, 2003

Louise Tsang is a reference librarian at Georgetown University Law Library. Before joining Georgetown in July 2003, she had been a reference librarian at York University Law Library in Toronto, Ontario, Canada since 1997.

(Editor's note:  This article is an extensive revision to the author's Update to Overview of Sources of Canadian Law on the Web, (published July 15, 2002).  There are numerous additions, changes for some website addresses, as well as some deletions.  These additions and changes are indicated by        (green background color) for easy identification.

Contents

Introduction
Some Canadian Comprehensive Sites and Research Guides
Sources of Law
Statutes & Regulations
Federal, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon
Case Law
Federal, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan
Governments
Federal, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Selected Research Centers

Introduction

Canadian governments, legislatures, courts and legal research centres have made many important sources of Canadian law accessible on the Web. Many initiatives began in 1996. Although many organizations uploaded materials retrospectively, much pre-1996 info is not available on the web. In addition to the lack of historical materials, the lack of legal research tools, such as case citators, makes the Web far from a perfect place for comprehensive legal research. We still rely strongly on our legal research tools in print, on online databases, and on CD-ROMs for wider scope, better searching capability and other added value. For researchers who do not have ready access to Canadian legal materials, however, the web is an important starting point. Very often, legal research centers or government agencies specializing in different areas of law maintain sophisticated web sites that provide access to primary and secondary legal information.

This article attempts to list and annotate the major sources of Canadian Law on the Web, including statutes, regulations, other legislative materials, case law, and government documents. Most of the Web sites listed here are free of charge and are created and maintained by reliable and authoritative organizations. A note will be added if it is a subscription based Web site.

For the benefits of readers who are unfamiliar with the Canadian legal system, I have added brief notes to explain the legal system when necessary. To  obtain a fuller understanding of the legal system of Canada, please consult Gerald L. Gall’s The Canadian Legal System 5th ed. Scarborough, Thomson Canada Limited, 1995. ISBN 0-459-55376-3 (bound). ISBN 0-459-55398-4 (pbk.) Justice Canada also provides a general overview of the Canadian Justice System on its Web site.                                                                                                                                                 

The legal system of Canada and all its provinces and territories, with the exception of Quebec, is a common law system, having been strongly influenced in its development by the British common law system. Quebec’s regime is a hybrid of the civil law and common law systems. The Federal Government and a few of the provinces are officially bilingual (English and French) and many Federal documents and documents of bilingual provinces are available in both official languages.

Some Canadian Comprehensive Sites and Research Sites

Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)

Designed by LexUM at the Centre de recherche en droit public of the University of Montreal for the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, this high quality site provides access to statutes, regulations, court rules and case law from across Canada. Some contents are still being developed. Access is unrestricted for the moment. CanLII is a signatory of the Montreal declaration on public access to law (http://www.canlii.org/decl.mtl.en.html) and a member of WorldLII.

Law-related Internet Resources (York University Law Library)

The links are grouped by country/jurisdiction and by topic. The Canada page is organized by type or source.

Legal Resources (Bora Laskin Law Library, University of Toronto)

The links are well annotated and are organized by material type or subject and then subdivided into jurisdiction (including jurisdictions other than Canada).

Virtual Canadian Law Library (Faculty of Law, University of Montreal)

The links are organized by type or source. The site also incorporates CanLII (Canadian Legal Information Institute). The interface is in both English and French.

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Sources of Law

Statutes & Regulations

There are 14 sovereign legislative bodies in Canada: the Parliament of Canada, and the legislatures of 10 provinces and 3 territories. Statutes enacted by these legislative bodies are primary legislation. Regulations are made under a statute or an act by the government department or ministry administering that act. Both statutes and regulations are first published in the gazettes and then compiled in annual volumes either by the Government printer or a commercial publisher. Consolidations of Federal and provincial legislation are prepared every 15 and 10 years respectively. To obtain the as-in-force version of a statute/act or a regulation, a researcher has to consolidate all the amendments (found in gazettes or in “annual statutes”) since the last consolidation. Fortunately, official or commercial consolidations of statutes and regulations are widely available in print or online. They are prepared for the convenience of research. For the purpose of applying and interpreting the law, users are warned to use the official statutes and gazettes.  The currency of the free online web version of statutes and regulations varies among provincial governments. Some are more current than the others. Note the “up-to-date” date of the consolidated version. Up-to-date Table of Statutes/Regulations can be used to verify if the consolidated version includes the latest amendments.

Canadian Legislation
A site prepared by Lexum and financed by Department of Justice, Legis provides unannotated links to all Canadian federal and provincial statutes, regulations and legislative information available on the web.

Federal

A Guide to the Making of Federal Acts and Regulations

Consolidated Statutes and Regulations – Department of Justice

Department of Justice periodically updates the statutes and regulations on the web site (updated to December 2002). Statutes and regulations are available in html format and printer-friendly format, in both English and French. Included on the site are Table of Public Statutes and Responsible Ministers, and Table of Private Acts. Search templates are available for searching all of these.

Constitution Acts 1867-1982

This consolidation contains the text of the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly the British North America Act, 1867, Stats U.K. 30 & 31 Victoria, c. 3), together with amendments made to it since its enactment, and the text of the Constitution Act, 1982 (Stats U.K. 1982, c. 11, Sch. B), as amended since its enactment. The Constitution Act, 1982 contains the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other new provisions, including the procedure for amending the Constitution of Canada. Also in French.

Parliamentary Internet

A bill is passed into law through a legislative process that includes first reading, second reading, committee stage and third reading in both the House of Commons and the Senate. You can find the text of both House and Senate bills at various stages (since the 35th Parliament). Legislative summary, providing the background and analysis of a bill, is available for some bills. Also available are the Chamber business and Committee business of both House of Commons and the Senate. Information is available in both English and French. 

LEGISINFO
The site provides access to a wide range of information about individual bills currently before Parliament. Such information includes the text of the bill at various stages, government press release and backgrounders, legislative summaries from the Parliamentary Research Branch, important speeches at second reading, votes, and coming into force data.

Canada Gazette

The Canada Gazette is the official news bulletin of the Government of Canada. Part I contains all formal public notices, official appointments, miscellaneous notices and proposed regulations from the government and private sectors that are required to be published by a federal statute or a regulation. Part II contains regulations as defined in the Statutory Instruments Act, and certain other classes of statutory instruments. Part III contains the most recent Public Acts of Parliament and their enactment proclamation, and is published as soon as is reasonably practicable after Royal Assent. The Web site provides the non-official HTML version of Part I (Jan. 1998, vol. 132, no.1-), Part II (Jan. 1998, vol. 132, no.1-), and Part III (May 1998, vol. 21, no. 1- ). It also provides bilingual PDF version of Part I (Jan. 2002, vol. 136, no.1; official bilingual PDF version available from April 5, 2003, vol. 137 no.14-), Part II (Jan. 2002, vol. 136 no.1-, official bilingual PDF version available from April 3, 2003, vol. 137 no.4-), and Part II (May 1998, vol. 21 no.1-, official bilingual PDF version available from May 14, 2003, vol. 26 no.1-). The Canada Gazette is also available in French: http://canadagazette.gc.ca/index-f.html

Alberta

Statutes and Regulations of Alberta
Statutes and regulations are available for free in TEXT format and for a fee in MSWord format or in print through the Catalogue of the Queens Printer. Some regulations are not available in electronic format, see list: http://www.qp.gov.ab.ca/notavail.txt 

Rules of Courts

Alberta Environmental Codes of Practice

Legislative Assembly

The site contains bills and amendments (full text and status reports) for the current session, the Archived Bill Status Reports 1989-2002, Assembly Documents and Records and other general information of the Legislature.

Alberta Gazette

Part I is available from Jan. 1996, vol. 92, no.1. Part II is the regulations which are consolidated at http://www.qp.gov.ab.ca/catalogue/.

British Columbia

Revised Statutes and Consolidated Regulations of British Columbia

Revised Statutes, Installment No. 7, are updated to July 16, 2002. Regulations, Installment No. 56, are updated to: November 23, 2001. Both revised statutes and regulations are searchable: http://www.qp.gov.bc.ca/statreg/search.htm. The site also lists all statutes (1992-present) enacted, amended and appealed; and regulations (1998-present) deposited with the Registrar of Regulations under the Regulations Act..

Legislative Assembly of British Columbia

The site includes debates of the Legislative Assembly (Hansard) back to 1st Session, 35th Parliament (1992), bills back to 1st Session, 35th Parliament (1992), and general information about (including some reports from) select Standing and Special Committees. It also has links to the budget and legislation.

Manitoba

Manitoba Government’s Statutory Publications

The site includes the Continuing Consolidated Statutes of Manitoba, in both English and French, in html format. Annual statutes (1996-present) and annual regulations (2000-present) are available, in both French and English, in pdf format.

Legislative Assembly

The site includes bills from the 2nd session of the 37th Legislature (2000) to the present; bill status for the current session; and Hansard back to the 6th session of the 35th Legislature (1995).

New Brunswick

New Brunswick Acts and Regulations

The New Brunswick government updates the acts and regulations twice a year. It is consolidated to March 2003. Both statutes and regulations are available in html format, in both English and French.

Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick

The site includes First Reading Bills and Status of Legislation of the Current Session and Past Sessions back to 3rd Session of the 53rd Legislature (1997).

Newfoundland and Labrador

Statutes and Regulations

The site includes consolidated statutes and regulations (updated regularly): http://www.gov.nf.ca/hoa/sr/bottom_frames.htm, annual statutes (1990 to present for now): http://www.gov.nf.ca/hoa/sr/bottom_frames3.htm, table of public statutes: http://www.gov.nf.ca/hoa/sr/bottom_frames2.htm, and table of regulations: http://www.gov.nf.ca/hoa/sr/bottom_frames5.htm

House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador

The site includes Hansard (debates of the House of Assembly) of the current and past sessions (back to March 1998), text and progress of bills of the current session, and information of select standing and select committees.

Northwest Territories

Statutes and Regulations of Northwest Territories

The site includes consolidated statutes current to February 2003, regulations current to July 2002, and rules made by the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.

Legislative Assembly of Northwest Territories

The site includes status and text of bills of the current legislature, status and summary of bills back to the 2nd session of the 14th Assembly, and Hansard back to the 6th Session of the 13th Assembly.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Statutes

Both consolidated statutes and statutes by session or sitting (back to 4th Session of the 56 Legislature, 1996) are available in html format.

Consolidated Nova Scotia Regulations

Consolidated regulations by act or by department are available in html format.

Nova Scotia Legislature

The site includes Bills (progress and full-text) back to 1995-6, 56th General Assembly, 3rd session, Hansard (debates of the House) back to 1994, 56th General Assembly, 2nd session.

Nunavut

Nunavut Legislation

The site includes consolidated statutes of Nunavut current to April 1999, and annual Statutes of Nunavut from April 1999 – present in pdf format, regulations consolidated to April 1999 in both pdf and Wordperfect formats: annual regulations (1999-2002) in pdf format, and Gazette (from 1999-present) in pdf format.

Legislative Assembly

The site includes bills of the current legislature in pdf format: http://www.assembly.nu.ca/english/bills/index.html and legislative debates (back to 1999) in pdf format: http://www.assembly.nu.ca/english/hansard/index.html.

Ontario

Statutes and Regulations of Ontario

This website contains consolidated versions of most of Ontario's public statutes and regulations, in both English and French. They are searchable. Statutes and regulations are updated within 10 days of enactment of a new law or amendment of an existing law. The site also includes tables that can be found in the print volumes, including Table of Public Statutes, Table of Proclamation, and Table of Private Statues.

Legislative Assembly of Ontario

The site includes Hansard (legislative debates), Committee proceedings, Bills and Status of Legislation of the current session and the last two legisatures.

Prince Edward Island

Statutes of Prince Edward Island

Statutes are in pdf format (consolidation date varies from statute to statute).

Legislative Assembly

The site includes Hansard (back to January 3, 1997), Progress of Bills (back to Spring 1997), and Audio Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly (from Spring 1999).

Royal Gazette

This is the unofficial electronic version of the Royal Gazette (back to January 16, 1999). Regulations, among other documents, are required to be published in the Gazette.

Quebec

Quebec Statutes and Regulations

The public law (matters such as criminal, constitutional and administrative law) in Quebec is based on a Common law system like the rest of Canada. Statutes and regulations are in French, some are also available in English. Revised statutes, regulations, and annual statutes (back to 1996) are available in English and French.

Official Gazette

Part II – Laws and Regulations are available full text (back to 2000) by subscription only. Index for Part II (back to 1996) are available for free in pdf format.

Civil Code of Quebec

The private law in Quebec is codified, as is the case in many Civil law jurisdictions. The Civil Code is in both English and French and is searchable.

Charte de la langue francaise

The French Language Charter in French only.

National Assembly

All the information is in French and only some is translated into English. The homepage has a link to parliamentary proceedings which has links to bills, Hansard, committee debates and reports. It also has a link to the archives of Parliamentary Proceedings of previous sessions (back to 3rd session, 34th Legislature).

Saskatchewan

Freelaw

The “Freelaw Publications” page includes links to Statutes (updated continuously and searchable): http://www.qp.gov.sk.ca/publications/index.cfm?fuseaction=home&c=1577&id=2, regulations (updated continuously and searchable): http://www.qp.gov.sk.ca/publications/index.cfm?fuseaction=home&c=1578&id=2, first reading bills from 1997: http://www.qp.gov.sk.ca/publications/index.cfm?fuseaction=home&c=113505&id=2.

Legislative Assembly

It includes Hansard (debates and proceedings) back to 1993, government bills (progress and full-text) of current session, and committee verbatims back to the 24th legislature (1999-).

Yukon

Statutes and Regulations of Yukon

The site includes annual statutes from 1986 – 2000, regulations consolidated to 1999, and table of public statutes.

Yukon Legislative Assembly

The site includes first reading bills of the current legislature: http://www.gov.yk.ca/leg-assembly/bills_index.html, and Hansard (searchable): http://www.gov.yk.ca/leg-assembly/hansardsearch/hansardsearch.htm.

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Case Law

The second major source of law in Canada is the decisions of courts. The courts are bound to follow precedents in accordance with the doctrine of stare decisis. Courts across the country are slowly putting up their decisions on the Web for easier access. For an overview of Canada’s Court System, check the web-based guide on the Justice Canada Web site.

CANLII

CANLII continues to add more cases to its case law collection which includes Supreme Court cases (back to 1985), Federal Court appeal and trial cases (back to 1998), and cases from most provincial courts. Coverage varies among courts. The website also provides some case note-up capability for Supreme Court cases.

Federal

Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada is Canada's highest court. It is the final general court of appeal, the last judicial resort for all litigants, whether individuals or governments. Its jurisdiction embraces both the civil law of the province of Quebec and the common law of the other provinces and territories.

The Website is in both English and French. It provides general information about the Supreme Court and a link to the judgments at http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/csc-scc/en/index.html (a joint project between the Supreme Court of Canada and the LexUM team of the Centre de Recherche en Droit Public at University of Montreal.) The collection on this LexUM site currently goes back to 1983. It also includes recent not-yet-published judgments, and Supreme Court weekly bulletin going back to 1994. Users can search the judgment collection, weekly bulletin, and press release separately.

Federal Court of Canada

As a specialized public law court, the Federal Court is second in importance only to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Web site is in both English and French. It provides general information about the Federal Court and a link to the judgments by year, y style of cause (name of cases) or searchable by keyword, neutral citation and docket number, at http://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/fct/index.html.

The collection currently goes back to 1992 and includes recent not-yet-published judgments. Users can search the judgment collections. You can also view or download Federal Court rules. In addition to the judgments, the Federal Court page on the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs site also provides access to Information on Appeals.

Tax Court of Canada

It has general information about the Court. It includes links to the Tax Court of Canada Act, rules of the Court; and judgments by year (since 1997), by style of cause, by docket number, and by subject matter.

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

All decisions rendered by the Tribunal since 1979 are now available on the site and are searchable. In both English and French.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal

Appeal decisions since 1989 are available in Word. In both English and French.

Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission

The site includes, among other things, broadcasting and telecommunications decisions back to 1995

Competition Tribunal

The site provides information regarding the Tribunal, including legislation and selected decisions

Employment Insurance Jurisprudence Library

This Web site will enable users to access all insurance jurisprudence in the past 50 years, i.e., CUBs (Canadian Umpire Benefits), Federal Court decisions and Supreme Court decisions as well as a growing number of related Provincial Court and Human Rights Tribunal decisions. It is in both English and French.

Alberta

Alberta Courts

It has general information on the Court of Appeal, Court of Queen’s Bench and Provincial Court. It also includes a searchable database which incorporates judgments of the Court of Appeal, Court of Queen's Bench and Provincial court of Alberta from January 1, 1998 onwards.

British Columbia

British Columbia Superior Courts

The Judgment Database includes judgments from both the B.C. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal since 1996 (including recent not-yet-published judgments). Other information on the Web site includes general information, notices and practice directions, annual reports of the courts.

British Columbia Securities Commission

In addition to commission decisions which go back to 1996, it provides access to a searchable database of policy documents at http://www.bcsc.bc.ca/policy/default.asp and other documents relating to the regulation of the trading of securities.

Manitoba

Court Registry System

The Court Registry System records all documents filed and hearings scheduled in the Manitoba Court of Appeal and the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, Winnipeg Centre. Files are searchable by file number or by name.

New Brunswick

See CanLII

Newfoundland

Provincial Court of Newfoundland

The site provides access to various court acts and rules, and general information about the court. Recent Court of Appeal cases (2002-present) and Courts of Queen’s Bench (2003 – present)

Northwest Territories

NWT Court Library System

The site provides access to some cases in full text from 1996 to present

Nova Scotia

Court of Nova Scotia
Law News Online provides access to full text of decisions (from January 1999) and digests of Nova Scotia decisions (primarily Supreme and Appeal) since July 1997.

Ontario

Guide to Ontario Courts

It links to the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Superior court of Justice, Ontario Court of Justice, Ontario Judicial Council and other resources.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario

It includes judgments and endorsements from 1998. Judgments from 1994 are also available on CanLII.

Ontario Court of Justice

It includes set fines schedules and court rules, but does not include judgments

Superior Court of Justice

It includes notices and practice directions; Family Law rules and forms. Judgments from 2003 are available on CanLII.

Ontario Human Rights Commission

It includes summaries of key decisions since 1995, in addition to general information and annual report of the Commission.

Ontario Labor Relations Board

Decisions from 2000 are available on CanLII.

Ontario Securities Commission

The Web site gives access to investor information, securities regulations as well as commission decisions, back to 1997,  at http://www.osc.gov.on.ca/en/Enforcement/Decisions/reasons_list.html

“Decisions, and the reasons for those decisions, following a hearing by a panel of Commission members or by a court are usually rendered orally. Sometimes written reasons for the decision may also be provided. Written reasons for decisions since January 1, 1997 are posted here.”

Prince Edward Island

Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island

With some exceptions, this searchable database contains the written decisions of the Supreme Court of P.E.I. since January 1, 1997. You can search by any combination of date, area of law and keyword.

Quebec

Décisions des Tribunaux du Québec

The site includes decisions from Cour d’appel (from January 1, 2000), Cour Supérieure (from September 20, 2001), Cour du Québec (from September 24, 2001), Tribunal du Travail (from January 1, 2000), Tribunal des professions (from October 22, 2001), Tribunal des droits de la personne (January 14, 2002) commission des lesions professionnelles (April 1, 1998), commission municipale du Québec (Jan 1, 2000), commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec (Jan 1, 2000), commission de reconnaissance des association d’artistes et des associations de producteurs (Jan 1, 2000).

Saskatchewan

Fulltext Judgments database

Searchable database of fulltext judgments from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, Court of Queen's Bench, and Provincial Court from 1994 to date; and digests of judgments from 1987 to date.

Yukon

See CANLII

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Governments

Many Federal and Provincial Government departments have their own Web sites with links to information they publish. These Web sites are good source of government policies, news releases and annual reports. Provincial Government Web sites offer general information about their provinces including tourist and business information. Depending on the issues you are researching on, you will visit different government departments.

Federal

Government of Canada

In both English and French. The site offers a series of link to branches of the Government of Canada and the information they publish, as well as information on Canada’s people, history and geography. The site is searchable.

Federal Institutions

The French version is at http://canada.gc.ca/depts/major/depind_f.html

Department of Justice Canada

It is in both English and French. It gives general information about Justice Canada, Programs and Services offered by the Department (a good place to start researching topics that fall under Federal Jurisdiction), and a guide to the Canadian Justice System.

Department of the Solicitor General

The site is in both English and French.

Law Commission of Canada

It is in both English and French. The Law Commission of Canada is an independent law reform agency responsible to the Parliament of Canada. Its mission is to engage Canadians in the renewal of the law to ensure that it is relevant, responsive, effective, equally accessible to all, and just. The site includes information about current projects of the Law Commission.

 

Alberta

Government of Alberta

Ministries of the Government of Alberta

Alberta Justice

British Columbia

Government of British Columbia

Ministries and Organizations

Ministry of Attorney General

Manitoba

Manitoba Government

Manitoba Government Departments and Agencies

Department of Justice

New Brunswick

New Brunswick Government

The site is in both English and French.

Departments and Agencies of the New Brunswick Government

New Brunswick Justice

Newfoundland and Labrador

Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

Departments and Agencies of Newfoundland and Labrador

Department of Justice

Northwest Territories

Government of the Northwest Territories

Departments & Services

Departments of Justice

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Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Government

Government Sites Index

Department of Justice

Nunavut

Government of Nunavut

The site is in English, French, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun.

Ontario

Government of Ontario

The site is in both English and French

Ministry of Attorney General

Ministry of Solicitor General

Prince Edward Island

Government of Prince Edward Island

In both English and French.

Government Guides

Quebec

Gouvernement du Quebec

The interface is also in English: http://www.gouv.qc.ca/Index_en.html, and Spanish: http://www.gouv.qc.ca/Index_es.html.

Department of Justice

Saskatchewan

Government of Saskatchewan

Departments & Organizations

Department of Justice

Yukon

Government of Yukon

Departments

Department of Justice

4. Selected Research Centers

Research Centres (JURIST Canada)

- JURIST maintains a list of research centres by area of law

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