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Legal Research Manual

This edition of Legal Research Manual builds on many previous editions. While the manual is designed principally for use with the first year legal research classes, upper year law students will also find it a useful reference.

Finding Federal Regulations (Print Sources)

Federal regulations are governed by the Statutory Instruments Act, RSC 1985, c S-22. This act requires that regulations be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, within 23 days of registration unless the regulations are exempted by the enabling statute. The act also defines what constitutes subordinate legislation as well as stipulating that there must be statutory authorization for every regulation in the form of an enabling statute. If publication is required, the regulation is effective as of the date of registration with the Clerk of the Privy Council. If the regulation is exempt from publication, it is effective as of the date of promulgation.

Print versions of regulations are extremely important because they are considered to be official sources. However, the online .pdf version of the Canada Gazette is official from April 1, 2003 onward. Finding and updating regulations via the paper trail is a somewhat more complicated and time consuming process than using electronic sources, yet it is important to realize that electronic sources before April 1, 2003 are still considered unofficial. For this reason, it is necessary to become comfortable using print sources to locate and update regulations.

The print method outlined here can also be employed using the online sources listed under Using Online Sources to Update Regulations.

Official Method: Consolidated Index of Statutory Instruments

The Consolidated Index of Statutory Instruments is a cumulative consolidated list of federal regulations and enabling acts dating back to 1922. The index is issued quarterly and is identifiable in print as a white, soft cover manual which is shelved with the federal legislative materials in the reference section or in the stacks towards the back of the main floor of the library.

Example: Locate the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

  1. Find the Consolidated Index. 
    • ​​​​​​​Be sure to consult the most current issue available to avoid missing relevant information. 
  2. Consult Table I - Regulations Listed Alphabetically by Title
    • This table is an alphabetical list of regulation titles and is found at the beginning of the Index. Use it when you know the name of the regulation you need to find, such as the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. A regulation's name is referred to as its short title. 
    • The title of the enabling act is listed under each regulation. If you look up the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, you'll see that they were released under the authority of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. 
  3. ​​​​​​​Consult Table II - Regulations Arranged by Enabling Statute Title
    • This table lists all regulations passed under an act and provides citations to where these regulations and their amendments may be found.
    • Locate the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and then refer to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations for a complete list of citations.
  4. Update through recent issues of the Canada Gazette, Part II
    • Given that the Consolidated Index may be up to three months behind, you must update from the latest cut off point by searching each recent issue of the Canada Gazette, Part II. These are thin issues of the Gazette shelved with the federal legislative materials.
    • Refer to the table of contents at the back of each issue. You need to scan for either the regulation name or enabling statute title.

Note 1: Citations to regulations will refer you to one of two sources:

a) The CRC 1978 - The Consolidated Regulations of Canada.

The CRC set is arranged alphabetically by enabling statute and is shelved in the Federal Legislation section of the stacks.

b) Canada Gazette Part II - A particular issue.

The Gazette is shelved together with the other legislative materials.

Note 2: If you do not know the name of a regulation but do know the name of its enabling act, proceed directly to Table II.

Alternate Method: Canada Regulations Index

The Canada Regulations Index is a three volume publication which lists all federal regulations in force to the end of the previous year.

These index volumes are three blue binders shelved in the reference section of the library. The index is arranged by name of statute under which the regulations are issued.

Again, let's use the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations as an example:

  1. Locate the name of the enabling statute for the regulation you wish to locate
    • Look up Immigration and Refugee Protection Act  in the white pages of the index where statute titles are listed alphabetically.
    • Here you will find a list of citations for all the regulations and amendments which have been passed under the authority of the Statute.
    • Note: The Canada Regulations Index differs from the Consolidated Index of Statutory Instruments in that a regulation's internal headings are reproduced, along with section numbers, providing a better indication of the regulation's contents.
  2. Update information for the current year using the yellow pages
    • To update for the current year, consult the yellow pages at the front of each volume. These pages are cumulated monthly. Look up the enabling statute title for a list of any recently issued regulations.
  3. Final update through the Canada Gazette Part II
    • To be absolutely current, it is necessary to consult the issues of the Canada Gazette Part II for information not yet covered by the yellow pages. The Gazette is by far the most current source of information for regulations.
    • Refer to the table of contents at the back of each issue. You need to scan for either the regulation name or enabling statute title.