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The blog of the Great Library at the Law Society of Ontario

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Happy Birthday, Baldwin

Happy Birthday to Robert Baldwin, drafter of The Baldwin Act!

An Act to provide, by one general law, for the erection of Municipal Corporations, and the establishment of Regulations of Police, in and for the several Counties, Cities, Towns, Townships and Villages in Upper-Canada, also referred to as the Municipal Corporations Act, 1849, a.k.a. the Baldwin Act, was Ontario’s first municipal statute. It was named after Robert Baldwin (1804-1858), who was co-premier and Attorney General at the time and at various other times lawyer and Law Society of Ontario Treasurer. The act was passed in 1849, came into force on January 1, 1850, and was described in The Municipal Manual, 11th ed, as “the Magna Charta of municipal government in Canada” (p 8).

The citation for the act is 12 Vict c 81, and it’s available electronically in the Great Library; if you need a copy, just ask.

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House of Bills: A Monthly Update on Ontario Bills

We have created a monthly recap of all bills that have moved through the legislature in April. Due to COVID-19, the legislature was only scheduled to meet on April 14, and is not scheduled to meet again until May 12. On April 14, one bill moved through the legislature.legend

Bill 189, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Protection Act, 2020

First Reading (April 14)
Second Reading, carried (April 14)
Third Reading, carried (April 14)
Royal Assent (April 14)

Stay tuned for more monthly recaps and any major updates on the activity of the legislature. 

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Finding Legislative Histories on eLaws: A Refresher

Looking for legislative history and amendment information for Ontario statutes but find yourself unsure how to begin? Here’s a quick refresher on using e-Laws to get the information you need.

If you click into any piece of current consolidated legislation on e-Laws – I’ve used the Ambulance Act as an example –  you can find three spots that contain legislative history information:

  1. under the “Versions” tab,
  2. in the “Legislative History” note,
  3. and through the Source Notes under each section of the act.


  1. “Versions”


The “Versions” tool of the e-Laws website is a great way to view historical versions of consolidated legislation. Simply click one of the listed hyperlinked date ranges to view a snapshot of how that act read during that period of time. e-Laws provides historical versions of consolidated legislation going back until January 2, 2004.

  1. “Legislative History”

legislative history

Near the top of every consolidated act you will find a section that reads “Legislative History”. Here, you can find a list of cites to acts that have affected the current act in some way (whether through amendment, repeal or enactment) since the Revised Statutes of Ontario 1990. This is helpful when looking to trace an act back to before the “Versions” cut-off date of 2004.

  1. Source Notes

source notes

When looking for legislative history information for specific provisions, look to the citations provided at the end of each section of the act. Unlike the information provided in the “Legislative History” section, these source notes highlight only those acts that have affected the specific section in some way. These source notes go back until the Revised Statutes of Ontario 1990. For more on how to read and utilize source notes, see our blog post here.

Tables on e-Laws

And of course, e-Laws has plenty of tables that can be helpful when conducting legislative research. The “main” table to use when tracing back legislation may well be the “Public Statutes and Ministers Responsible” table. This table provides info concerning minister(s) responsible, legislative history and repeal information going back until the Revised Statutes of Ontario 1990. For a full list of e-Laws legislative tables, click here.

Need legislative history information going back before the Revised Statutes of Ontario 1990? HeinOnline has got you covered. You can find tables of public statutes at the end of volumes of the digitized Ontario annual statutes up to 2001. These tables provide information on statutes such as: their citation within the most recent revision as well as amendment and repeal information. And don’t forget — Law Society of Ontario licensees have free remote access to HeinOnline through the Great Library.

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House of Bills: A Weekly Update on Ontario Bills

Below, we have compiled a list of those bills which progressed through the House during the emergency sessions of March 19 and March 25. As of now, the House stands adjourned until Tuesday, April 14. Additionally, all committee meetings have been cancelled until further notice.

Sitting dates: March 19 & 25 legend
42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Bill 181, Supply Act, 2020
Royal assent (March 19)

Bill 186, Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020
First reading (March 19)
Second reading, carried (March 19)
Third reading, carried (March 19)
Royal Assent (March 19)

Bill 187, Municipal Emergency Act, 2020
First reading (March 19)
Second reading, carried (March 19)
Third reading, carried (March 19)
Royal assent (March 19)

Bill 188, Economic and Fiscal Update Act, 2020
First Reading (March 25)
Second Reading, carried (March 25)
Third Reading, carried (March 25)
Royal Assent (March 25)

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LEGISinfo: Tips for Tracking Federal Bill Activity

As some of you may know, the Great Library has been reporting on the legislative activity of Ontario public bills in our new blog series “House of Bills”. Though we don’t cover the federal side of things, here are a few tips for using LEGISinfo to keep track of federal bills as they move through the House of Commons and the Senate.

On the home page of LEGISinfo, you’ll notice that there are a few filter options near the top of the page. For the purposes of tracking the most recent activity of bills, we will be using the “Latest Activity Date” and “Show Details” filters shown below:

By clicking on the “Latest Activity Date”, the bills with the most recent activity are pulled to the top of the page in descending order.

Now that we’ve manipulated the list to show the bills with the most recent activity first, we can use the “Show Details” filter to reveal more information concerning the activity of each bill.  Once expanded, we can now see the last stage the bill has completed under the “Last stage Complete” section and by the bar graph in the top right corner (shown below):

It’s important to note that the data contained in this section reflects the latest stage that the bill has completed, and not necessarily the stage the bill is currently being considered under. For instance, though the entry shown above for Bill C-6 only mentions the first reading, the bill is currently being considered for second reading. If you click the “View Complete Bill Details” link, you will be taken to a page that shows that Bill C-6 sat for second reading on February 24, though it has not yet completed the second reading stage.

For another tool that shows you the latest stage a bill has reached and not necessarily completed, select the “Legislative at a Glance” option located on the left-hand side of the LEGISinfo home page. “Legislation at a Glance” provides an overview of bills under consideration in either the Senate or the House of Commons

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One to watch – Ontario Bill 161, Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2019

The Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2019 (Bill 161) was introduced late last year by Attorney General Doug Downey. The stated aim of this ambitious 80-page package of reforms is to simplify Ontario’s complex and outdated justice system. If passed, the bill will make changes, large and small, to over 20 acts impacting the courts, legal aid, legal practice and regulation.

Here are a few key Bill 161 amendments:

Class Proceedings Act (Schedule 4)

  • introduces a more rigorous certification test, new provisions for approval of third-party funding, coordination of multi-jurisdictional actions, administrative dismissal of  dormant proceedings, and procedural changes relating to appeals, carriage motions and settlement and counsel fee approvals

Commissioners for the Taking of Affidavits Act (Schedule 5)

  • allows for virtual (remote) commissioning of documents

Estates Act (Schedule 9)

  • introduces a simplified probate process for small estates

Law Society Act (Schedule 14)

  • grants the Law Society of Ontario the authority to regulate firms, in addition to regulating lawyers and paralegals individually

Notaries Act (Schedule 19)

  • allows paralegals to be appointed as notaries

A complete summary of amendments can be found in the Explantory Note to Bill 161.

Legal organizations, academics and practitioners have already responded to various aspects of the bill. See for example:

Since Bill 161 received first reading on December 9, 2019, just days before the Legislature adjourned for its winter break, it has thus far not been debated in the House or Committee. But MPPs return to work today, so stay tuned. 

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Divorce Act & Bill C-78 – Unofficial Consolidation

Now available: an unofficial consolidation of the Divorce Act & Bill C-78.

A handy unofficial version of the Divorce Act that incorporates the pending changes in Bill C-78 is now available for free. The consolidation was created by B.C. family law arbitrator and author, John-Paul Boyd and announced on Slaw this week.

While commonly referred to as “The New Divorce Act”, Bill C-78 is officially cited as “An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act”, S.C. 2019, c. 16. The act significantly amends, but does not replace the current Divorce Act.

Boyd’s consolidated version will fill an important research need until the Bill C-78 changes take effect and are incorporated into the official consolidation of the Divorce Act on Justice Laws. Currently these amendments are listed separately following the text of the Divorce Act, under the heading “Amendments Not In Force”.

Further reading on Bill C-78:

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A New LibGuide: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not follow the usual path of Canadian legislation.  Tracing its evolution involves research in two jurisdictions – Canada and the UK – since the power to change our Constitution and incorporate new constitutional measures such as the Charter did not lie in our hands but rather with the Crown.  This can cause a lot of confusion when searching for source law on the Charter. 

For this reason, we have created a LibGuide that aims to guide the researcher in their pursuit to locate and identify legislative intent for the Charter as well as to help form a basic understanding of the legislative pathway the Charter underwent to be enacted.  This LibGuide provides the dates and direct links to the British and Canadian Hansards and identifies some helpful secondary and primary source material concerning the Charter.  The territories of this LibGuide include:

  • The Charter:  A Brief Legislative History
  • The Hansards: The Charter in Canada
  • The Hansards: The Charter in the United Kingdom
  • Secondary Resources at the Great Library

And the LibGuide is now live!  Much like the other LibGuides produced by the Great Library, the Charter LibGuide will be periodically updated.  Visit the Great Library Research Guides to find this and other helpful LibGuides produced by the Great Library staff. 

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New Year, New Rules: Changes in Smalls Claim Court

In October, the Ontario government announced that they would be raising the claim limit for Smalls Claim Court from $25,000 to $35,000 in the New Year.  This is part of an access to justice initiative to make it faster, easier, and more affordable for people and businesses to resolve their disputes in front of a judge.

Currently, all claims that exceed $25,000 must seek redress through the Superior Court of Justice— one of the busiest courts in Canada.  By increasing the Smalls Claim Court claim limit, more litigants will be able to bring their disputes to a court where cases are often resolved in less than a year, and where the use of less expensive legal representation such as paralegals, law students, and self-representation is available.  This will also help free up the Superior Court of Justice to focus on more pressing family and criminal law cases as more civil cases are diverted to Small Claims Court.

Along with this change also comes the increase in the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to Divisional Court from $2,500 to $3,500.  Additionally, litigants who started a claim in the Superior Court can seek to transfer their case to Small Claims Court if the claim falls within the monetary threshold.

Legislation Responsible:

O. Reg 343/19 was the regulation responsible for amending O.Reg 626/00, Small Claims Court Jurisdiction and Appeal Limit (regulation under the Courts of Justice Act) to change the maximum claim amount from $25,000 to $35,000.  It also increased the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to Divisional Court from $2,500 to $3,500.  O.Reg 343/19 comes into force on January 1, 2020.

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House of Bills: A Fall Recap of Ontario Bills

As of December 12 the Legislative Assembly of Ontario stands adjourned for the winter recess and does not plan to return until February 18th. As promised, we have compiled a list of those bills which have progressed through the House this fall (October 28-December 12) and have identified the latest stage they reached before the winter recess.

First Reading

Bill 134, Caribbean Heritage Month Act, 2019
Bill 135, La Francophonie Act, 2019
Bill 137, Franco-Ontarian Community Act, 2019
Bill 139, Caribbean Heritage Month Act, 2019
Bill 140, Defibrillator Registry Act, 2019
Bill 143, Health and Safety at Work Day Act, 2019
Bill 146, Stop Cyberbullying in Ontario Day Act, 2019
Bill 148, Doored But Not Ignored Act, 2019
Bill 149, Dyslexia Awareness Month Act, 2019
Bill 151, Smoke-Free Ontario Amendment Act (Vaping is not for Kids), 2019
Bill 155, Rent Control Act, 2019
Bill 158, Defibrillator Training and Access Act, 2019
Bill 160, Education Amendment Act (Use of Seclusion and Physical Restraints), 2019
Bill 161, Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2019
Bill 162, Public Accountability and Lobbyist Transparency Act, 2019
Bill 163, Food Day Ontario (Food Day Canada in Ontario) Act, 2019
Bill 164, Protecting Vulnerable Persons in Supportive Living Accommodation Act, 2019
Bill 165, Ontario Climate Crisis Strategy for the Public Sector Act, 2019
Bill 166, Great Lakes Protection Amendment Act, 2019
Bill 167, Legislative Assembly Amendment Act, 2019
Bill 168, Combating Antisemitism Act, 2019
Bill 169, Home Warranties to Protect Families Act, 2019
Bill 170, Protecting Passenger Safety Act, 2019

Second Reading

Bill 125, Making Northern Ontario Highways Safer Act, 2019
• Lost on division
Bill 133, Buy in Canada for Mass Transit Vehicles Act, 2019
• Lost on division
Bill 156, Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019
• Debate

Committee Stage

Bill 112, Lupus Awareness Day Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on General Government
Bill 130, Combatting Litter for the Environment and Nature Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on General government
Bill 141, Defibrillator Registration and Public Access Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Social Policy
Bill 142, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Air Brake Endorsements), 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Social Policy
Bill 144, Northern Health Travel Grant Advisory Committee Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills
Bill 145, Trust in Real Estate Services Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on General government
Bill 147, Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on General government
Bill 150, Ensuring Transparency and Integrity in Political Party Elections Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on General government
Bill 152, Occupational Safety and Health Day Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Social Policy
Bill 153, Long-Term Care Homes Amendment (Till Death Do Us Part) Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Social Policy
Bill 154, Stop Cyberbullying in Ontario Day Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Social Policy
Bill 157, COPD Awareness Day Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Social Policy
Bill 159, Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act, 2019
• Bill considered by Standing Committee on Social Policy

Royal assent

Bill 6, Poet Laureate of Ontario Act (In Memory of Gord Downie), 2019 (SO 2019, c 16)
Bill 116, Foundations for Promoting and Protecting Mental Health and Addictions Services Act, 2019 (SO 2019, c 17)
Bill 123, Reserved Parking for Electric Vehicle Charging Act, 2019 (SO 2019, c 18)
Bill 124, Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019 (SO 2019 c 12)
Bill 132, Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019 (SO 2019, c 14)
Bill 136, Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, 2019 (SO 2019, c 13)
Bill 138, Plan to Build Ontario Together Act, 2019 (SO 2019, c 15)

That’s all for now, folks! Come back the end of February for the next “House of Bills: A Weekly Update on Ontario Bills” post.