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Legislation Basics

Some Definitions

Legislation = Written and approved laws. Also known as statutes, or acts.

Bill = A proposed statute, not yet approved.

Act = A bill which has passed through the various legislative steps required for it and which has become law. Also known as a statute.

Statutes = Statutes are laws that are passed by the legislature - federal or provincial/territorial.

Regulations = Rules made pursuant to a statute and known as subordinate legislation. Regulations always have an enabling statute; that is, a statute under which the regulations were made and operate.

What are Regulations?

Certain statutes enable federal or provincial executive agencies to create rules and regulations to govern various areas. These rules and regulations, together with other subordinate legislation, such as orders and municipal by-laws, may be referred to as regulations or statutory instruments.

Public or Private?

Laws or statutes (and bills) are considered "public" if the law is a law that applies to everyone, i.e. the Criminal Code.

Laws can also be "private", meaning they apply to a specific person, place, or corporation, i.e. in some provinces, a hospital or a university may have its own piece of legislation.

Generally, legislation passed in a year is published in a statute volume, with the acts being numbered sequentially 1,2,3 as chapters. The public statutes are typically first, and any private statute is later in the volume.