Skip to main content

Government Information: Canada

Information and publications from Canadian governments at federal, provincial, territorial and municipal levels. Also includes help finding information from the census and the Canadian Research Index (MICROLOG).

How a Government Bill becomes Law - Ontario


The following guide will explain the process by which a typical government initiated bill becomes law. Adapted from Ontario Legislative Library guide #1.

First Reading

  • Bill is introduced in the Legislature and given First Reading and put on the agenda of the Legislature.
  • Minister may make statement or explanation of purposes of bill
  • compendium of background information is supplied to Opposition critics
  • bill is printed and distributed

Second Reading

  • Debate on principle of the Bill - Minister and each member
  • No amendments to text of Bill may be moved at this stage
  • After debate concludes, Speaker puts question on the motion for Second Reading
    • If Bill is given Second Reading, it may, by unanimous consent, be ordered for Third Reading
    • Otherwise Bill is referred to a Standing or Select Committee or a Committee of the Whole House as designated by the Minister.
  • Select or Standing Committee
    • Purpose is to comment on, ask questions about and/or propose amendments to various sections of Bill
    • Committee may invite individuals, groups and Ministry officials to comment on the Bill in writing or in person before the Committee
    • Committee may travel to various locations in the province to receive comments
    • Each clause of Bill is then considered and may be amended or deleted
    • Bill is reprinted if amendments have been made
    • Bill is reported back to House
    • Bill may, by unanimous consent, be ordered for Third Reading
    • If unanimous consent is not given, Bill is referred to Committee of the Whole House for further consideration
  • Committee of the Whole House
    • Purpose is to comment on, ask questions about and/or propose amendments to various sections of Bill
    • Individuals and groups cannot participate in the proceedings
    • Ministry officials may sit on the floor of the Legislative Chamber to provide advice to Minister
    • Each clause of Bill is then considered and may be amended or deleted
    • Bill is reprinted if amendments have been made
    • When Committee of the Whole House reports Bill to House, Bill is ordered for Third Reading

Third Reading

  • Debate is more restricted than at Second Reading and is limited to contents of the Bill
  • No amendments to text of Bill may be moved at this stage
  • After debate concludes, Speaker puts question on motion for Third Reading

Royal Assent

  • Bill is presented to the Lieutenant Governor for assent
  • Lieutenant Governor may assent to Bill in the Queen's name, withhold assent or reserve assent
  • When Bill is given Royal Assent it becomes an Act and is given a statute number and reprinted

In Force

  • Statute is in force:
    • upon Royal Assent, or
    • when it is proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor, or
    • on a day specified in the act
  • Different sections may come into force at different times

Prepared by Inba Kehoe, Government Documents, Queen's University, 1997

Search Google for Government Information




Government Information Guides


Related Resources