Four annotated volumes of the statutes of Ontario with a background of the Great Library
When conducting legislative research, it’s important to remember that just because a statute has received royal assent, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of its sections have come into force. This is why it is so important to look through the commencement provisions of the statute in question to discern when the statute will be “fully operational” so to speak.
Unfortunately, deciphering coming into force dates isn’t always as straightforward as looking at these commencement provisions. While these provisions will sometimes neatly list the specific coming into force dates, other times they simply indicate that the statute will come into force “on a date to be determined by Proclamation”.
Proclamations are published in most jurisdiction’s official Gazettes. But luckily you don’t have to sift through piles of weekly Gazettes issues to find the proclamation you need. There are more efficient alternatives:
For Ontario, you can check the Table of Proclamations found on e-Laws, and for federal statutes you can check the coming into force dates in the Table of Public Statutes and Responsible Ministers on the Justice Laws website. These tables can also be found in the print volumes of the Ontario and Federal annual statutes, which have also been digitized by HeinOnline. They can usually be found towards the end of these volumes.
Another source which covers proclamations for all Canadian jurisdictions going back many years is the Great Library’s annotated statute volumes. We annotate our legislative volumes with coming into force information. This means we will actually pencil in the coming into force dates, along with the proclamation information, right next to the relevant provisions. Easy Peasy! Look for the volumes with the “Annotated” sticker on the spine to take advantage of this service, or alternatively, shoot us an email for coming into force information.
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:
under the “Versions” tab,
in the “Legislative History” note,
and through the Source Notes under each section of the act.
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. Depending on the act, e-Laws provides historical versions of consolidated legislation going back as far as 2001.
2. “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.
3. 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. Here is a full list of e-Laws legislative tables.
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.