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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.

The Legislative Process (Ontario)

The passage and publication of Ontario statutes is substantially similar to federal legislation. Detailed information can be found on the website for the Ontario Legislative Assembly. The following summary focuses on specific differences.


Public government bills are identified by the heading "Government Bill" on the title page of the bill.

Public private members' bills are identified by the heading "Private Member's Bill" on the title page of the bill.

Private bills, "petitioned" or solicited by the parties who are interested in promoting them, are passed as Private Acts and published in a separate section in the annual statute volume. They are assigned chapter numbers beginning with the prefix "Pr". They do not get consolidated in the Revised Statutes. The Legislation Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 21, Schedule F, s 91(1), states that private acts do not affect the rights of any person except those specifically mentioned.

Ontario's e-laws provides a Table of Private Statutes that lists private acts passed since 1867 with an overview of their legislative history. A Table of Private Acts passed from 1867 to December 31, 1990 is printed in the RSO 1990 Appendix Volume. A Cumulative Supplement to the Table of Private Acts is published in the most recent bound sessional volume of statutes.

Ontario Legislative Process

The introduction and passage of a bill through the Ontario Legislative Assembly is similar to the passage of a bill through the federal Parliament. The most obvious difference is that provinces have only one chamber, while federally there is the House of Commons and the Senate.

Status of Current Bills

Ontario bills are published at first reading, after amendment by committee, and upon individual Royal Assent. You can find out the status of a current bill on the Current Bills section of the Ontario Legislative Assembly's website.

Print Copies:

Bills that have received Royal Assent are available in the Current Bills Service, shelved with the Ontario legislative material in the law library. Various versions of bills are also available at Stauffer library.

Electronic Copies:

The full texts of recent Ontario bills are available on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario's website Bills section (1995-). Selected historical bills are available in a collection on the Internet Archive.

Coming Into Force

Even though it has Royal Assent, an Ontario act may not necessarily be in force. The concluding section of a statute normally deals with its commencement.

Certain sections of the act may be brought into force in different ways and at different times. All or part of the statute may be brought into force by a combination of the following methods:

  • as soon as it received Royal Assent (the date listed after the long title);
  • on the date specified in the act; or
  • upon a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, as published in the Ontario Gazette.
  • If the act is silent, the Legislation Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 21, Schedule F, s 8(1), provides that the statute comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.