Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Canadian Legal Research Guide

Finding Canadian Federal Legislation

On this page:

  • Consolidations and Statutes of Canada
  • Acts as made (sessional Acts)
  • Legislation currently in Force
  • Point-in-time / Historic Legislation
  • Amendments and Amending Legislation
  • Repealed Legislation

For concise and helpful overviews of legislation and how to find it, see:

Consolidation and Statues of Canada

Revised Statutes: Periodically the federal government publishes consolidations of all the statutes or regulations in force as of a particular date. These are referred to as the Revised Statutes or the Revised Regulations. The most current consolidation is the Revised Statutes of Canada 1985. Revised Statutes are denoted by RSC. Example: Canada Elections Act RSC 1985 c E-2.

Annual Statutes of Canada: While Revised Statutes are published periodically, annual statute volumes are published every year. These contain both new and amending statutes which have received Royal Assent during the past year. If a statute is passed after the most recent Revised Statutes, it will be cited to the annual volume in which it appears. SC denotes the Statutes of Canada. Example: Species at Risk Act SC 2002 c 29. To find the Statutes of Canada as passed and as they are currently, including amendments, see below.

Federal Acts as Made/ Passed 

Upon Royal Assent, a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament and assigned a statute chapter number. Periodically, these new statutes / sessional Acts are published throughout the year as issues of the Canada Gazette Part III - Acts of Parliament. The Gazette Part III contains new public Acts, Acts and provisions that amend existing Acts, and other publications such as Proclamations of Canada and Orders in Council relating to the coming into force of Acts in a given calendar year as made. The new Acts are also immediately made available on the Department of Justice's Laws website, entitled Annual Statutes

  • The Canada Gazette Part III contains the official version of the individual original Acts as made - 1998 to current (open access). Since April 2003, the online Gazette has the same official status as the print Gazette.
  • The Annual Statutes are available online on: 
    • HEIN Online (UniMelb staff & student access) - from 1792 to current (with a two year delay)
    • the Justice Laws Website (open access) - 2001 to current
    • CanLII - (open access) - 2001 to current

Federal Legislation Currently in Force

Up to date compilations of Acts and Regulations, including all amendments, are available online to be browsed or searched on:

Point In-time / Historic Legislation 

The Department of Justice Canada Consolidated Acts and consolidated regulations sites include historic versions of Federal Acts from 2003+ and Federal regulations from 2006+.

  • To see historic versions of an entire Act or regulation, navigate to it in the current consolidation - at the top of the table of contents page, is a link to 'Previous Versions'.

  • To see previous versions of individual amended sections and schedules, click on the 'Previous Version' link 'at the end of the section or schedule while viewing the current consolidation. A new page opens with the content of the previous version and the option to cycle between points in time by using the 'Previous Version' and 'Next Version' links. The in-force date range for that particular section or schedule can be seen at the top of the page.

Use CanLII to navigate to the Statute or Regulation. All versions of the legislation are listed at the top of the page, indicating the period of time they were in force. If there is more than one historic version of an Act, they can be compared by clicking 'versions' at the top of the Act, and then clicking 'compare'. CanLII's historic versions of federal statutes starts in 2003, and federal regulations in 2006.

For detailed information on finding historical Federal Statutes before 2003 and Regulations before 2006, see the Simon Fraser University's Library Guide

Amendments and Amending Legislation 

To see if a Federal legislative provision has been amended, either:

  • check the Table of Public Statutes and Responsible Ministers on the Department of Justice Canada website - this lists all the chapters of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, with their amendments. 
  • look at a current consolidation of the Act - see 'Legislation in Force' above in this box. Amendments are cited under the sections - these citations represent the history of the provision. For example, the Canadian Business Corporations Act (RSC 1985 c C-44) includes the following amendment citation under  s 102: 2001 c 14 s 35. This means that s 102 was amended by section 35 of chapter 14 of the 2001 Statutes. Chapter 14 is simply the 14th Statute to be enacted in 2001.

Acts and provisions that amend existing Acts are published in the Annual Statutes. If you want to see the full text text of the amending provision, see 'Acts as Made' above in this box, which will help you find the amending Act. 

To quickly find which Acts an amending Act is amending, use CanLII - an Amending link is available at the top of the screen, if the Act amends any other Acts.

Repealed Legislation 

Lists of repealed legislation

A list of all Federal Acts repealed since 1985 is on the Department of Justice website. Statutes repealed before 1985 are listed in the annual print volumes of the Statutes of Canada - PDF replicas of these volumes are available on HEIN Online (UniMelb staff & student access) - from 1792 to current (with a two-year delay)

A list of Acts repealed each year is listed in the Canada Gazette, Part I, and those otherwise slated for repeal are found in the Tabling of Annual Reports Under the Statutes Repeal Act.

Using consolidated legislation in CanLII, the Department of Justice or LexisNexis will list all repealed legislation in the alphabetical list of legislation in force, and will provide information such as date of repeal and earlier versions of the legislation, but will not provide access to the full text of the legislation as it existed immediately prior to repeal.

Full text of repealed legislation

Canada Repealed Statutes on Lexis Advance contains the full text of Acts repealed since April 1995 as they existed immediately prior to repeal. To see earlier versions of the repealed Acts, find the Act in the consolidated legislation on CanLII or the Department of Justice Laws website and view the 'previous versions'. 

Acts which are partially repealed remain in the Consolidated Statutes until fully repealed.