Legislation is law enacted by government. It takes the form of a written document.
In many countries, including Canada and the United States, there are two types of laws: primary legislation and secondary legislation.
What is primary legislation?
is created by legislative bodies (such as Parliament or Congress)
is also called a statue or act
sets out the broad principles and framework of the law
is known as a bill prior to approval by a country’s legislative body.
What is secondary legislation?
Is created by bodies, other than the legislative body, that have been delegated that authority by the primary legislation. Those bodies are often, but not always, government agencies or departments.
is also known as delegated legislation, subordinate legislation, or regulation.
sets out specific rules under the authority of the primary legislation that authorizes it.
How do I find Canadian federal legislation?
All Canadian federal acts and regulations are available online on the Justice Laws Website.
If you know the name of the act or regulation, you can search for it or browse an alphabetical list.
If you don’t know the name of the act or regulation, you can search by keyword using Basic Search or Advanced Search.
The text of all federal acts and regulations is also available on the CanLII website.
The text of bills, along with their status, is available online at LEGISinfo.
Bills receive numbers based on their chronological order of introduction and the chamber (Senate or House of Commons) in which they are introduced. They also have names, e.g. C-277: An Act for providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada.
Search for bills by bill number, title, or keyword search of title and content. Try the advanced search for even more powerful searching abilities.
How do I find Canadian provincial and territorial legislation?
The text of all provincial and territorial legislation is available on the CanLII website.
Search CanLII by keyword across all provinces and territories, by keyword in a specific province or territory, or browse each province and territory’s alphabetical list.
You can also find each province’s and territory’s official website for legislation by searching Google for <jurisdiction name> legislation, e.g. Ontario legislation.
How do I find Canadian municipal legislation?
Legislation enacted by a municipality is called a by-law.
You can find each municipality’s official by-laws website by searching Google for <municipality name> by-laws, e.g. Guelph by-laws.