Government of Canada


Legislative Process

The House of Commons is the main law-making body of Parliament. It alone may introduce bills that involve public funds. Government bills introduced in the House of Commons are prefixed with the letter ‘C’ and are numbered consecutively from 1 to 200, while private members’ bills are numbered consecutively from 201 to 1000.  The Senate or “Upper House” is appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. Senate bills are prefixed with the letter ‘S’, and private bills introduced by the Senate are numbered 1001 and higher. Current Canadian House and Senate bills may be found on the Parliament’s web site. A Canadian bill follows this path:

  • Introduction The process begins.
  • First Reading The bill is “read” for the first time without debate, and printed.
  • Second Reading The bill is debated and then voted on and sent to a parliamentary committee.
  • Committee Stage A committee hears witnesses, examines the bill clause-by-clause, and submits a report recommending that it be accepted as is or with amendments, or that it be rejected.
  • Report Stage Additional amendments to the bill may be proposed, debated, and voted on.
  • Third Reading The bill is debated and voted on.
  • Message Once passed, the bill is sent to the Senate, where the process starts again with first reading.
  • Royal Assent The Governor General or a deputy gives the bill Royal Assent.

LEGISInfo is a web site used to search Canadian House and Senate bills. It includes government bills and private members’ public bills for the House of Commons.

Consolidated Acts and Regulations provides simple and advanced search options for current laws and regulations of the Canadian government. This site also provides links to several important resources for case law, bills, regulations, reference documents, income tax law, and frequently accessed statutes.

The Canada Gazette is the official newspaper of the Canadian government. It includes notices, proposed regulations, final regulations, and acts of Parliament.

How a Government Bill Becomes Law – Canada provides more detail regarding the legislative process.

LEGISInfo – FAQ – describes the five types of bills that can be introduced and how they can become law.


House of Commons

The House publishes the following sources, as well as committee reports and bills. All are available via the House of Commons web site:

  • In the Debates , House members present the pros and cons of bills. The text is searchable by subject and date.
  • Journals serve as the minutes of the House of Commons. They may also be searched by subject and date.
  • The Projected Order of Business contains the daily schedule of the House of Commons.
  • The Order Paper & Notice Paper contains a detailed list of the order of business, orders of the day (motions, bills introduced in both Houses, and other government and committee business), lists of amendments to bills, and motions made upon the introduction of a bill.
  • Status of House Business contains House and Senate bills and government business; private members’ bills and motions, and private bills; written questions; committee business; and other content.
  • List of Reports and Returns



Senate sources that are available online include the Debates, Journals, Order Paper and Notice Paper, Progress of Legislation, committee reports, and bills.

  • Debates contain Senators’ pros and cons regarding particular bills. These are indexed by Hansard and searchable by date and subject.
  • Journals are the minutes of the meetings of the Senate. They are also searchable by date and subject.
  • Order Paper & Notice Paper contains a detailed list of the order of business, orders of the day (motions, bills introduced in both houses, and other government and committee business). The Notice Paper lists amendments to bills, motions made upon the introduction of a bill and questions raised.
  • Progress of Legislation contains bill histories for both houses.


House, Senate and Joint Committees

Committee documents include reports, hearings, responses to legislation, and investigations. Standing committees are permanent; special committees are created for a specified period.

House of Commons committees produce reports and responses to legislation. This site provides the standing committee list, notices of meetings, evidence and information regarding witnesses, news releases, and searchable documents.

Senate Committees produce reports and publications on legislation and special issues. This site includes a list of standing and special committees, a schedule of meetings, reports, and publications.

Joint Committees of the House of Commons and the Senate provides links to reports, responses, notices of meetings, witness information, and committee lists.


Cabinet and Members of Parliament

Members of Parliament provides current and historical lists of members of Parliament, as well as links to sites containing contact information, caucus and committee membership facts, and previous election results.

Canadian Ministry (Cabinet) provides current and historical lists of the members of the cabinet, as well as links to information on membership in caucuses and committees, and previous election results.

Prime Minister of Canada includes press releases, lays out the government’s agenda, advertises special government programs, and provides links to information of particular interest to the public.



Supreme Court of Canada contains information on the Court’s acts, rules, and cases, and offers access to its library catalog.

Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada provides a comprehensive list of Court decisions from 1985 to date, as well as cases pertaining to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This database is a collaboration of the Supreme Court and the LexUM Lab at the University of Montreal.

Federal Court of Appeals provides information about the Court and its recent activities. It also incorporates a database of the decisions of the Court for 1989 and 1996 to 2007.

Federal Court of Canada is the national trial court of Canada. It hears disputes arising in the federal domain, claims against the government of Canada, and suits in federally regulated areas. It also includes a database of the Court’s decisions and files, including lists of hearings and dockets.

The Canadian Legal Information Institute is a database for case law at the federal and provincial levels. It is searchable by date, full text keyword, title, name, and so on.



Statistics Canada is the most complete source of Canadian statistics. It includes data collected through Canadian the census, which is carried out every five years and is available here for 1996, 2001, and 2006. The search page provides advanced search options and categorizes the results by data type (e.g., summary tables, analytical studies, and detailed tables and publications).

Census of Canada contains data gathered through the agriculture and population censuses of 1996, 2001, and 2006.

Finding and Using Statistics is a step-by-step guide from 2007 to locating, reading, and using data contained in Statistics Canada.

Historical Statistics of Canada provides an indexed list of sections, as well as subsections for retrospective data up to 1999.


Other Sources

Library of Parliament, a product of the Information and Research Service, produces research publications for Parliament and catalogs documents that are indexed and searchable by subject category. The Library of Parliament includes the Information and Document Resource Service, which responds to questions of members of Parliament.

Depository Services Program is the official government site for Canadian depository libraries. It offers a weekly checklist of documents; a catalog for document searches; electronic publications that are searchable by corporate author, title, and subject; a list of depository libraries worldwide; and further guides and help sheets.

Info Source Publications is a tool for finding and understanding Canadian government information and a guide to obtaining information through the Access to Information Act.

The Government of Canada Web Archive harvests and preserves web pages of the federal government of Canada.

Canadian Parliamentary Publications: A Research Guide is an extensive guide to the parliamentary process and related documents. This site was produced by the University of Toronto.

Structure of the Government of Canada includes information on the Sovereign, Governor General, Parliament, and Cabinet. The page also offers links to legislation, regulations, and case law of the Canadian government.

Departments and Agencies provides an alphabetical list of links to the primary web sites of the government of Canada’s departments, agencies, and Crown corporations.

About Parliament is an indexed reference guide to Parliament.

Canadian Provincial and Territorial Governments contains links to the official sites of Canada’s provincial and territorial governments.

Provincial and Territorial Legislatures contains links to the sites of the legislatures of Canada’s provinces and territories.