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Law Basic Primers


Federal or Provincial?

The Canadian constitution divides areas of activity between the federal and provincial government. Some of these areas are exclusive - for example, the postal service is a federal area of activity, while education is a provincial matter. Some areas overlap, so that both levels of government may make laws and policies. The environment is an example of an area of dual jurisdiction.

Learn more here: Distribution of Powers

Statutes & Regulations

Legislation includes statutes (also called acts) that are passed by either the federal parliament or a provincial legislature, and regulations, sometimes called secondary or delegated legislation. Regulations are made under the authority of a 'parent' act, and typically deal with specific matters arising from the parent act. There may be several sets of regulations under one act. Both statutes and regulations can be amended and/or repealed. In general, legislation passed during a calendar year is published in that year's statute volume, with the acts being numbered sequentially 1, 2, 3, etc. as chapters. Typically the public statutes are first, and any private statutes appear later in the volume.

Canadian Federal Legislative Materials

Current Legislation & Previous Versions: Statutes and Regulations 

Statutes and Revised Statutes 

Historical Legislation

Note: The library has also print versions of Canadian legislation, as well as related materials. Official print versions of federal statutes are found in the most recent Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985 (RSC 1985 in force on December 12, 1988) and in the annual volumes of the Statutes of Canada published after 1985. To find these Search the Library. Tip: Also try Acts of the Parliament of Canada when searching. 

Provinces & Territories Legislative Materials

Statutes and Revised Statutes 

More Information - Legal Research Subject Guide

Helpful Hint

When conducting legislative research keep in mind that legislation changes over time - sections may be amended, added, or repealed, and an entire act may be repealed and superseded by a new act.

Government Information Subject Guide