Frequently Asked Questions

How does a Bill become law?

When does an Act come into force?

Can an Act come into force with retroactive effect, i.e., before it is passed by the legislature?

When does a regulation come into force?

Can a regulation come into force with retroactive effect?

When can I obtain a copy of an Act or regulation?

Are the Acts of the province available in an electronic format?

How do I obtain an official copy of a statute or regulation?

What is the proper way to cite statutes and regulations?

How do I contact the Office of the Legislative Counsel?


How does a Bill become law? [Top]

The Canadian Constitution gives the legislature of this and the other provinces powers to make laws.  Here is how our House of Assembly makes laws.  Laws made by the House are called Acts.  When first presented to the House for its consideration an Act is called a Bill.

  • The first stage in the legislative process as a result of which a Bill becomes an Act, that is, a law, is called the "Notice of Motion".  The Notice of Motion simply informs the members of the House that they will be asked at some later date to consider a Bill. 

  • The second stage is that of the "First Reading" of a Bill.  Here members are asked to agree to debate the Bill.  If they agree, that is, allow it to be read a First Time, the Bill is given to them and made public.

  • The next stage is the stage at which members of the House are asked to actually debate the Bill.  It is called the "Second Reading".  At this stage, the person introducing the Bill, usually a Minister of the Government, explains the purpose of the Bill and all members may speak and give their opinions about it.  (The Rules of Debate are found in the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly.)

  • When members have finished their consideration of the purpose of the Bill, the "Second Reading" stage ends and the Bill is referred to the "Committee of the Whole House".  This is where the members of the House review and discuss the Bill in detail.  This is generally referred to as the "Committee Stage" of debate.  At this stage members are allowed to propose changes to the Bill. 

  • Following the "Committee Stage" a Bill is ready for the "Third Reading".  At this stage members may again debate the Bill as they did at "Second Reading".

  • The final stage in the legislative process is called the Royal Assent.  At this stage, the Lieutenant-Governor, on behalf of the Queen, agrees that the Bill, now called an "Act", should be a law of the province.

See the Order Paper to view what the business of the House of Assembly is on a particular day.

See the Progress of Bills to view a Bill's progress through the House of Assembly.

 

When does an Act come into force? [Top]

There are 3 possible dates on which an Act may come into force.

  • First, the date may be included in the Act itself If so it is the last section of the Act.  This section is called a "Commencement Section".
     

  • Second, the Act may permit the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, that is the cabinet, to decide when it is to come into forceThe section that permits this is called the "Proclamation Section".  If one is included in an Act it is the last section.  (The proclamation containing the date is published in the Gazette.)
     

  • Finally, an Act that does not contain a "Commencement Section" or a "Proclamation Section" comes into force on the date on which it is signed by the Lieutenant-Governor, that is, on the date it is given "the Royal Assent" This date appears on the first page of the Act.  (Since "the Royal Assent" is always required for an Act, a date will always appear on the first page.  You should always check the last section of an Act to see whether it contains a "Commencement Section" or a "Proclamation Section".)  Most Acts come into force on the date the Royal Assent is given.

 

Can an Act come into force with retroactive effect, i.e., before it is passed by the Legislature? [Top]

Yes, although it is not usually the case and it only happens if the Act specifically states that it applies with retroactive effect.  The date from which it was retroactively effective is contained in the last section of the Act.

 

When does a regulation come into force? [Top]

A regulation can come into force on 2 dates,

  • however, if the last section of the regulation states a date on which they come into force, the regulations come into force on the date set out in them rather than on the day they are published.

 

Can a regulation come into force with retroactive effect? [Top]

Yes, but only if the Act under which the regulation is made specifically allows for it and only then if the date from which the regulation was retroactively effective is set out in the regulations.

 

When can I obtain a copy of an Act or regulation? [Top]

Copies of Acts and regulations are available online through the House of Assembly website.  Printed copies may also be obtained by contacting the Queen's Printer.

 

Are the Acts of the province available in an electronic format? [Top]

Yes.  The Acts and Subordinate Legislation are available online through the House of Assembly website. [Top]

 

How do I obtain an official copy of a statute or regulation? [Top]

Under the authority of section 11 of the Statutes Act, RSNL1990 cS-26, a copy of legislation or consolidated legislation accessed from the House of Assembly website is an official copy.

You may also contact the Queen’s Printer to obtain an official copy. Where consolidated versions have not been prepared, you may be provided with the original statute together with any amending statutes.

Notwithstanding the above, a copy of point in time legislation accessed from the House of Assembly website is not an official copy under subsection 11(2) of the Statutes Act, RSNL1990 cS-26.

 

What is the proper way to cite statutes and regulations? [Top]

Sample Statute Citations:

  • Accident and Sickness Insurance Act, Revised Statutes of Newfoundland and Labrador 1990 chapter A-2
    OR
    Accident and Sickness Insurance Act, RSNL1990 cA-2
     

  • Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 2015, Statutes of Newfoundland and Labrador 2015 chapter A-1.2
    OR
    Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 2015, SNL2015 cA-1.2
     

  • Loan and Guarantee Act, 1957, Statutes of Newfoundland and Labrador 1957 chapter 70
    OR
    Loan and Guarantee Act, 1957, SNL1957 c70

Sample Regulation Citations:

  • Aquaculture Regulations, Consolidated Newfoundland and Labrador Regulation 1139/96
    OR
    Aquaculture Regulations, CNLR 1139/96
     

  • Child Care Services Regulations, 2015, Newfoundland and Labrador Regulation 89/05
    OR
    Child Care Services Regulations, 2005, NLR 89/05

Change in how we cite Statutes and Regulations due to the following statutes:

  • For Statutes see Newfoundland and Labrador Act, SNL2001 cN-3.1
    AND
    For Regulations see s45 of
    Attorney General Statutes Amendment Act, 2001, SNL2001 c42 s45


How do I contact the Office of the Legislative Counsel? [Top]

You may contact the Office of the Legislative Counsel at:

Office of the Legislative Counsel
Department of Justice and Public Safety
P.O. Box 8700
St. John's, NL
A1B 4J6

Fax: (709) 729-2129
Email:
legcounsel@gov.nl.ca