Frequently Asked Questions


How does a Bill become law?

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?

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 force.  The 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.

Questions regarding this portion of the website may be directed to the Office of Legislative Counsel.