It might come as a surprise to some that before the inception of e-Laws and Justice Laws in the early 2000s, legislative consolidations were not produced for every statute each year. The Revised Statutes of Canada and the Revised Statutes of Ontario were the primary official tools responsible for updating and consolidating statutes and were produced every decade or so (give or take). So, when in need of legislative consolidations before e-Laws and Justice Laws and between these Revisions, they may have to be crafted rather than found.
But fear not! There are some tried-and-true practices and many tools to use in the process of building point-in-time versions of statutes.
1. Finding your Foundation
Identify the official consolidation of the statute of interest that falls immediately before the point-in-time needed. For example, if looking to build a 1994 point-in-time version of the Provincial Offences Act, we would want to identify the official consolidation of the act that most closely precedes 1994 (spoiler: it is the consolidation found in the 1990 Revised Statutes of Ontario). This consolidation will act as the foundation on which we will apply all other research.
Tools: Look to the citation found at the top of the e-Laws or Justice Laws consolidation to identify when an act was previously consolidated, either through a Revision or the act’s own repeal and replacement:
Prior to its consolidation on e-Laws, the Provincial Offences Act was consolidated in the 1990 Revised Statutes of Ontario with R.S.O. 1990, c. P.33. Therefore, the official consolidation of the Provincial Offences Act that we would use as our foundation when building a 1994 point-in-time version is Provincial Offences Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.33.
When you need to trace an act’s consolidations past the years included on e-Laws or Justice Laws, reference the Tables of Public Statutes found in the Federal or Ontario annual volumes of statutes, either in print (Tip: they are usually the blue/orange pages in the annuals!) or digitized through HeinOnline. These tables identify the previous time an act was consolidated, either with a Revision or with its own repeal and replacement.
To identify the previous time the Provincial Offences Act was consolidated before RSO 1990, c. P-33, look to its entry in the 1990 Table of Public Statutes:
So, before its consolidation in the 1990 Revised Statutes of Ontario, the previous time the Provincial Offences Act was consolidated was with the 1980 Revised Statutes of Ontario as RSO 1980, c. 400.
2. Gathering the Amendments
Gather all in-force amendments made to the act from the time of the foundation or base consolidation (see step 1) to the date for which you need the point-in-time version. Using the example set out above, if in need of a 1994 point-in-time version of the Provincial Offences Act, we would gather all amendments made to the act from the time of its consolidation in Provincial Offences Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.33 to the end of 1994.
Tools: To gather the amendments of an act, we turn our attention yet again to Tables of Public Statutes. These tables lay out the amendment or legislative history for in-force public statutes of a specified period. While we already know they can be found in print or on HeinOnline, they are also available on e-Laws and Justice Laws, with the data in the Ontario table going back from current day to the 1990 Revised Statutes of Ontario, and the data in the Federal table from current day to the 1985 Revised Statutes of Canada.
If looking for the amendment history of the Provincial Offences Act from 1990-1994, we turn our attention to the Tables of Public Statutes available on either e-Laws (though keep in mind this table displays amendment history past 1994) or digitized on HeinOnline. If using HeinOnline, reference the 1994 table to gather all amendments made to the Provincial Offences Act that received royal assent from the 1990 Revised Statutes of Ontario to the end of 1994:
Looking at the source notes1 in this table entry, we can see that six acts received royal assent from the 1990 Revised Statutes of Ontario to the end of 19942 that amended, repealed, or affected the Provincial Offences Act in some way. When tasked with building point-in-time versions of statutes, the source notes listed in these tables cite to those acts that warrant investigation.
Remember that it is always important when conducting legislative research to check the coming into force provisions of the involved statutes. The inclusion of an act in a Table of Public Statutes only signifies it received royal assent in the prescribed period and does not guarantee that it also came into force within this period.3
3. Applying the Amendments to the Foundation
Once you have gathered all in-force amendments, apply them to the foundation or base consolidation of your act to create your point-in-time version. Oftentimes this “application” appears in the form of cutting, copying, and pasting over the base consolidation. While not as elegant as the official consolidations, this process acts as a dependable framework when crafting accurate point-in-time versions of statutes.
To create a 1994 point-in-time version of the Provincial Offences Act, apply all in-force amendments gathered from the 1994 Table of Public Statutes to the Provincial Offences Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.33.
Before jumping to build a point-in-time version of an entire statute, think about whether this is necessary to your research. Consolidating a statute in its entirety oftentimes involves a colossal amount of work. If only working with one part or section of a statute, building a point-in-time version for the entire act may be unnecessary, especially when a singular part or section would suffice. Whenever possible, narrow your research objective as much as you can.
1 For more on source notes, look to this post here.
2 The tables in the print volumes will always include the date to which all data is included. Look to the first page of the table for more detailed currency information (i.e. exact date).
3 For information on how to discover coming into force information, look to this post here.