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Features - Overview of Sources of Canadian Law on the Web

By Louise Tsang, Published on April 3, 2000

Editor's Note:  Please refer to the updated version of this article,at http://www.llrx.com/features/canadian3.htm. You will be automatically redirected to that page shortly.

Louise Tsang is Reference Librarian at York University Law Library, Toronto, Ontario. She created and maintains the Law Library Web site. She also contributes contents to the Women's Human Rights Resources Web site at Bora Laskin Law Library at University of Toronto. In addition to regular reference work, Louise also gives legal research instruction classes to undergraduate Law & Society students and law students. She also contributes regularly to the "Canadian Law Libraries" and the "TALL (Toronto Association of Law Libraries) Newsletter."


Contents

Introduction
Some Canadian Meta Sites or Comprehensive Sites
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, Ontario, Quebec
Governments
Federal, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon

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. Much pre-1996 information is not available on the Web even though some organizations decided to upload materials retrospectively. Although more and more legal resources are available on the Web, comprehensive legal research cannot be done solely on the Web yet. We still rely strongly on our print resources, online databases and CD-ROMs. For researchers who do not have ready access to Canadian legal materials, the Web is an important starting point. 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. 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 have 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 Meta Sites or Comprehensive Sites

ACJNet

Access to Justice Network is an important comprehensive site for Canadian law and justice resource materials. The interface is in both English and French.

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

The links are organized by type or source.

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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. 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) since the last consolidation. 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.

Federal

A Guide to the Making of Federal Acts and Regulations

Consolidated Statutes and Regulations – Department of Justice

Department of Justice periodically (approximately 4 times a year) update the statutes. Regulations are also updated quarterly and available on the site. Statutes and regulations are available in complete document for download or searchable Folio Infobase formats, in both English and French. It does not, however, include the Income Tax Act.

There is also a link to the stable URL site where the URL's for each statute will not change even after the underlying files are updated. The site also links to Table of Private Acts, Consolidated Index of Statutory Instruments, Table of Public Statutes, the Canada Gazette site and the Parliamentary Internet site.

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 Government Bills and Other Bills (from the current session of the Parliament), full-text and status information, on this site. Also available are the Chamber business and Committee business of both the House of Commons and the Senate. It has debates, Government bills and progress of legislation information for the past two sessions in the archives. Information is available in both English and French.

Canada Gazette

The Canada Gazette is the official news bulletin of the Government of Canada. The Web site provides the unofficial electronic 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-) in pdf format. 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 is published as soon as is reasonably practicable after Royal Assent, it contains the most recent Public Acts of Parliament and their enactment proclamation. French version is available at http://canada.gc.ca/gazette/gazette_f.html

Alberta

Statutes of Alberta, A thru Z

Regulations of Alberta, A thru Z

Rules of Courts

Alberta Environmental Codes of Practice

The Alberta government updates statutes and regulations 4 times a year. All statutes and regulations are available in simple text format.

Legislative Assembly

The site contains bills and amendments (full text and status reports) for the current session, the Archived Bill Status Reports 1989-1998, Legislative debates, committees information 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.gov.ab.ca/qp/regs.html.

British Columbia

1996 Revised Statutes of British Columbia

The 1996 Revised Statutes, Amendment no.2, are consolidated to October 1, 1998. The site also lists all statutes enacted, amended and appealed during the 1992-1999 sessions.

British Columbia Regulations Bulletins

The Bulletins (1998-present) are summaries of the regulations deposited with the Registrar of Regulations under the Regulations Act. Full-text regulations are not available on the Internet.

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, legislation and other Canadian Legislative Assemblies.

Manitoba

Manitoba Government’s Statutory Publications

The Manitoba Government updates the statutes annually. They are now consolidated to September 1999. The statutes are in pdf format. Full-text regulations are not available on the Internet.

Legislative Assembly

The site includes debates and committee materials back to the 6th session of the 35th Legislature (1995), bills of the current legislature, and bill status chart of the current legislature.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick Acts and Regulations

The New Brunswick government updates the acts and regulations twice a year. It is consolidated to September 1999. 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 of the current Legislature, Status of legislation, First Reading Bills back to 3rd Session of the 53rd Legislature (1997), status of bills back to the 2nd session back to 2nd Session of the 53rd Legislature (1996), Journals of Legislative Assembly back to 1st Session of the 53rd Legislature (1996).

Newfoundland and Labrador

Statutes and regulations are not yet available on the Internet.

House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador

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

Northwest Territories

Statutes of Northwest Territories

Regulations of Northwest Territories

Statutes and regulations are updated regularly. Statutes and regulations are available in both English and French and in both WordPerfect and pdf formats.

Legislative Assembly of Northwest Territories

The site includes Status and summary of bills of the current legislature, 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) 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) of the current session, Hansard (debates of the House) back to 1996, 56th General Assembly, 4th session, and Proceedings of standing and select committees back to March 1996.

Nunavut

Nunavut Act

Nunavut Land Claims Agreement

Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act

Ontario

Statutes and Regulations of Ontario

Both statutes and regulations are updated regularly. They are available in folio format and in both English and French, and are searchable.

Legislative Assembly of Ontario

The site includes Hansard (legislative debates), Committee proceedings, Bills and Status of Legislation of the Current session (1st session of the 37th Legislature); Hansard and Committee Proceedings of the 36th Legislature

Prince Edward Island

Statutes and regulations are not yet available on the Internet.

Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island

It includes proceedings of the Assembly back to the 1st session of the 60th General Assembly (1997), bills (progress and full-text) of the current session.

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 only. Statutes regulations are available in HTML and downloadable RTF format. They can be accessed by subjects or can be searched by keywords.

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 the previous session – 2nd session, 35th Legislature.

Saskatchewan

QUESS: Queen’s Printer Electronic Subscription Service

Statutes, regulations and gazettes are available by subscription, and are consolidated and updated within 7 to 10 days.

Legislative Assembly

It includes Hansard (debates and proceedings) back to 1997, government bills (progress and full-text) of current session, and committee verbatims back to the 23rd legislature (1996-97).

Yukon

Statutes and Regulations of Yukon

Both statutes and regulations are not consolidated. Instead, statutes from 1986-1997 and 1998 and Table of Public Statutes (with amendment information) are available in both English and French.

Yukon Legislative Assembly

It includes Hansard (searchable).

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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.

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 Web site is in both English and French. It provides general information about the Supreme Court and a link to the judgments at http://www.droit.umontreal.ca/doc/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 1989. It also includes recent not-yet-published judgments, and Supreme Court weekly bulletin going back to 1994. The LexUM site is searchable.

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 at http://www.fja.gc.ca/en/cf/decisions.html

The collection currently goes back to 1993 and does not include recent not-yet-published judgments. Users can search the judgment collections. You can also view or download Federal Court rules.

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

All decisions rendered by the Tribunal since 1990 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.

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 and Provincial court of Alberta from January 1, 1998 onwards. Decisions are also organized by court and by month.

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 will be kept on the Web site for at least 3 months, it provides access to a searchable database of policy documents at http://www.bcsc.bc.ca:8080/rapid.nsf/publish/rapid.html and other documents relating to the regulation of the trading of securities.

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.

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

Ontario Human Rights Commission

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

Ontario Securities Commission

The Web site gives access to investor information, securities regulations as well as commission decisions 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.”

Quebec

Quebec Human Rights Tribunal

Searchable database of Tribunal decisions since 1991. Some judgments in English.

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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

Alberta Government Departments, Boards, Agencies and Commissions

Alberta Justice

British Columbia

Government of British Columbia

Ministries and Organizations

It provides links to B.C. Government Ministries, Crown Corporations, Other Organizations, Agencies and Programs, the Legislative Assembly and other governments.

Ministry of Attorney General

Manitoba

Manitoba Government

Manitoba Government Departments and Agencies

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

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Government

Government Sites Index

Department of Justice

Nunavut

Government of Nunavut

The site is in English and Inuktitut. The French and Inuinnaqtun version is not ready yet.

Ontario

Government of Ontario

The site is in both English and French

Ontario Government Sites

Ministry of Attorney General

Ministry of Solicitor General

Prince Edward Island

Government of Prince Edward Island

In both English and French.

Government Guides

Department of Community Services and Attorney General

Quebec

Gouvernement du Quebec

The interface is in French, English or in Spanish.

Departments

Department of Justice

Saskatchewan

Government of Saskatchewan

Government Agencies

Yukon

Government of Yukon

Departments

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