e-Laws definitions

A collection of terms used on e-Laws and their definitions.

Act: Also called a statute. A bill is enacted or becomes an Act (i.e., law) when it is passed by the Legislative Assembly after its third reading and receives Royal Assent.

Annual regulations: Regulations filed with the Registrar of Regulations after December 31, 1990 are published in print in The Ontario Gazette. Regulations filed after December 31, 1999 are also published on e-Laws as source law and may be accessed by year of filing.

Each regulation filed in a year has a title and a regulation number. Regulation numbers are assigned sequentially in the order in which regulations are filed during the year.

For example: A regulation titled Drinking-Water Testing Services made under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002, was filed with the Registrar of Regulations on June 16, 2003 and was assigned the number 248/03. This number means that it was the 248th regulation filed in 2003. The regulation may be cited as Ontario Regulation 248/03, which may be abbreviated as O.Reg.248/03.

Annual statutes: Statutes enacted after December 31, 1990 are published in print in annual statutes volumes. Statutes enacted after December 31, 1999 are also published on e-Laws as source law and may be accessed by year of enactment. 

The statutes that received Royal Assent in 2006, for example, are referred to as the Statutes of Ontario, 2006, which may be abbreviated as S.O. 2006.

Each statute enacted in a year has a long title and a short title.   The short title includes the year of enactment (for example: the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006). The year remains in the short title, even if the statute is amended in later years, except in the rare situation in which the short title is itself amended to remove the year.

Each statute enacted in a year also has a chapter number. Chapter numbers are assigned sequentially in the order in which statutes receive Royal Assent during the year. For example, the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 is chapter 17 in the Statutes of Ontario, 2006 and may be cited as S.O. 2006, c.17.

Bill: A proposed statute that is before the Legislative Assembly for consideration. A bill becomes a statute when it is passed by the Legislative Assembly after its third reading and receives Royal Assent.

Change notice: Notice given by the Chief Legislative Counsel of a change made to a consolidated law under the change powers set out in subsection 42 (2) of the Legislation Act, 2006.

The Chief Legislative Counsel must give notice of most types of changes  and can decide whether or not to give notice of the other types of changes.

Change notices appear on e-Laws in separate tables for consolidated statutes and consolidated regulations.

Change powers: Under subsection 42(2) of the Legislation Act, 2006, the Chief Legislative Counsel has the power to make limited, specified types of changes to consolidated laws. A change can’t be made under the change powers if it would alter the legal effect of the statute or regulation.

There is no legal significance to the date on which a change power is exercised. A change that is made to a consolidated law may, if appropriate, be read into historical versions of that law or into the relevant source law.

Chief Legislative Counsel: The person who is responsible for the overall operation of the Office of Legislative Counsel. This office serves the government, the Legislative Assembly and the public by providing legislative authoring and publication services for all Ontario bills, statutes and regulations, which includes the statutes and regulations published on e-Laws. .

Coming into force: The point in time when a statute enacted by the Legislature or a regulation filed with the Registrar of Regulations takes effect.

The commencement section in a source law statute, found at the end of the statute, states when the provisions of the statute come into force. It may state that the provisions of the statute come into force on Royal Assent, on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, on a specified date or in specified circumstances. Different provisions of the statute may come into force on different dates.

The commencement section in a source law regulation, found at the end of the regulation, states when the provisions of the regulation come into force. It may state that the provisions of the regulation come into force on the day the regulation is filed, on the day a provision of a statute comes into force, on a specified date or in specified circumstances. Different provisions of the regulation may come into force on different dates. If a regulation has no commencement section, it came into force on the day it was filed with the Registrar of Regulations.

Consolidated law:  A version of a statute or regulation that shows:

  • any amendments made to the statute or regulation
  • any changes made to the statute or regulation under the change powers

e-Laws hosts 3 subsets of consolidated law:

  • current consolidated law
  • period in time law
  • repealed, revoked and spent law

Some provisions are omitted from consolidated versions of a statute or regulation. They include:

  • provisions that amend or repeal other laws
  • commencement provisions
  • the provision that enacts the short title of a statute

Consolidation period: The period during which a consolidated version of a statute or regulation is an accurate statement of the law on the day the version is accessed on e-Laws. A consolidation period is indicated at the top of each current and historical version of a consolidated statute or regulation on e-Laws.

Correction: This term refers to the correction of a publication or consolidation error in a statute or regulation. The correction of a publication or consolidation error serves only to bring the published source or consolidated statute or regulation into line with the statute as it was enacted by the Legislature or the regulation as it was filed with the Registrar of Regulations. Notice of the correction of a publication or consolidation error may or may not be provided, depending on the nature of the error.

Current consolidated law: A database containing the most recent versions available on e-Laws of every consolidated statute and regulation.

e-Laws currency date: Usually, the “current to” date for current consolidated laws on e-Laws. If the e-Laws currency date is earlier than the “current from” date in a consolidation period, the consolidated law is actually current to the “from” date.

Explanatory note: A brief summary of the content of a bill, written to assist readers.

It appears on the inside front cover of a published bill and accompanies the bill through the legislative process. If a bill is enacted (i.e., becomes a statute), the explanatory note is dropped, because it does not form part of the law.

The explanatory note can be a useful way to quickly determine the general nature of what a statute is about. Explanatory notes to third reading bills that are enacted can be found on e-Laws in source law - public statutes as enacted.

Historical version: When any of the following events occurs after January 1, 2004 (or after the date of a law’s consolidation under section 98 or 99 of the Legislation Act, 2006, if later) to a consolidated law, a new consolidated version of that law is created for the purposes of e-Laws. The consolidated version of the law as it read immediately before the event occurred is retained on e-Laws as a historical version.

  • Amendment of the text of the consolidated law, as well as amendment of the text of a commencement provision or a provision amending or repealing another law (even though the text of source law commencement, amending and repealing provisions is omitted from the consolidated law). However, this does not include modification of only editorial text in the consolidated law, such as editorial notes, notices of amendment, tables of contents and headnotes.
  • The coming into force of a provision of the consolidated law that was not previously in force. In the historical version, the not-in-force provision is shaded in grey and is accompanied by an editorial note stating when or how it will come into force; in the new version, the grey shading and editorial note respecting the not-in-force provision are removed.
  • Amendment of a consolidated regulation that was made in English only by adding a French version. In the historical version, the statement preceding section 1 indicates that the regulation is made in English only; in the new version, the statement preceding section 1 indicates that this is the English (or French) version of a bilingual regulation.

Legislation: This term includes statutes enacted by the Legislature and regulations made by a person or body whose authority to make them is set out in a statute.

Legislature: The Queen, as represented by the Lieutenant Governor, acting by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly. When a bill is passed by the Legislative Assembly after its third reading, the Lieutenant Governor assents to the bill on behalf of the Queen by signing it. The bill is thereby enacted by the Legislature and becomes a statute, i.e., law.

Lieutenant Governor: The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, or the person administering the Government of Ontario for the time being in her Majesty’s name.

Lieutenant Governor in Council: The Lieutenant Governor acting by and with the advice of the Executive Council of Ontario.

Ontario Gazette (The): A weekly publication by the Queen’s Printer under the Official Notices Publication Act. All proclamations issued by the Lieutenant Governor and all regulations filed with the Registrar of Regulations must be published in The Ontario Gazette. Regulations are usually published in The Ontario Gazette on the third Saturday following the date of filing.

O. Reg.: The abbreviation for Ontario Regulation. Regulations filed with the Registrar of Regulations are assigned a number based on the order in which they are filed in a given year. Regulations can be cited using the abbreviation O. Reg., followed by the regulation number.  For example: The regulation titled “Community Safety Zones”, made under the Highway Traffic Act, may be cited as O.Reg. 510/99. This means it was the 510th regulation filed in 1999.

Period in time law: A database of current and historical versions of consolidated statutes and regulations that is searchable by date. This allows you to find different consolidated versions of a law as they read during different periods in time.

A historical version of a consolidated statute or regulation is available on e-Laws only if the statute or regulation is amended or affected by a coming into force event after January 1, 2004.

A historical version of a statute or regulation that was consolidated under section 98 or 99 of the Legislation Act, 2006 is available on e-Laws only if the statute or regulation is amended or affected by a coming into force event after the date of its consolidation.

Private statute: A statute that is enacted by the Legislature on the application of an individual, a municipality or a corporation and which relates only to the interests of the applicant.

As of 1983, the chapter number for private statutes has the prefix Pr. For example, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent Act, 2003 is chapter Pr1 in the Statutes of Ontario, 2003 and may be cited as S.O. 2003, c. Pr1.

Proclamation: If a statute states that some or all of its provisions come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, the Lieutenant Governor may issue one or more proclamations naming a date on which the statute or specified provisions of the statute come into force. Different provisions may be proclaimed to come into force on different dates. By convention, proclamations are issued in accordance with an order made by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

Proclamations are published in The Ontario Gazette.

Public statute: Any statute that is not a private statute.

A public bill may be introduced by a Minister of the Government, in which case it is called a Government bill, or by a member of the Legislative Assembly who is not a Minister, in which case it is called a private member’s public bill.

Public bills generally deal with issues of broad significance and generally apply to the whole province. A private member’s public bill may deal with any subject that a Government bill may deal with, but may not impose a tax or specifically direct the allocation of public funds.

Registrar of Regulations: A lawyer in the Office of Legislative Counsel who is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council to exercise powers and perform duties under Part III (Regulations) of the Legislation Act, 2006.

Regulation: A law that is made by a person or body whose authority to make the law is set out in a statute. Usually the authority is given to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Sometimes the authority is given to a Minister of the Government or to another person or body.

Regulations are considered "delegated legislation" because the authority to make them is delegated by the Legislative Assembly in a statute. A regulation deals with topics related to the statute under which it is made; the purpose of a regulation is to provide details to give effect to the policy established by the statute. The process for amending a regulation is usually shorter than the process for amending a statute.

Repealed statute: A consolidated version of a statute as it read immediately before it was repealed. A statute can be repealed by a provision in the statute itself or by a provision in another statute. A repealed statute is not in force but may continue to apply in some situations. For example, transitional provisions may extend its application in certain circumstances or it may have application in relation to past events.

Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990: The last decennial regulations revision undertaken in Ontario resulted in the 9-volume Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990, often abbreviated as R.R.O. 1990.

Each regulation in the revision has a title and a number. For example, the regulation titled "Endangered Species", made under the Endangered Species Act, is Regulation 328 of the Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990 and may be cited as R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 328.

Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990: The last decennial statutes revision undertaken in Ontario resulted in the 12-volume Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990, often abbreviated as R.S.O. 1990.

Each statute in the revision has a title and a chapter number. For example, the Environmental Assessment Act is chapter E.18 in volume 4 of the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990 and may be cited as R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18.

Revision: Until 1990, Ontario had traditionally revised its public statutes and regulations approximately every 10 years. Each revision consolidated all public statutes and all regulations, with some exceptions set out in schedules or tables to the revision. The revision also made a variety of changes to the text of those statutes and regulations, such as re-numbering and updating of terminology. Each revision legally replaced the pre-existing source law and was, therefore, a new starting point.

Ontario has not undertaken a traditional revision since 1990, although it consolidates public statutes and regulations on an ongoing basis on e-Laws. As the last revision occurred in 1990, the starting points for purposes of e-Laws are the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990 and the Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990.

Revoked regulation: A consolidated version of a regulation as it read immediately before it was revoked. A regulation can be revoked by a provision in the regulation itself, by a provision in another regulation or by a provision in a statute. A revoked regulation is not in force but may continue to apply in some situations. For example, transitional provisions may extend its application in certain circumstances or it may have application in relation to past events.

Royal Assent: When a bill is passed by the Legislative Assembly after its third reading, the Lieutenant Governor assents to the bill on behalf of the Queen by signing it. The bill is thereby enacted and becomes a statute.

R.R.O. 1990: The abbreviation for the Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990.

R.S.O. 1990: The abbreviation for the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990.

S.O.: The abbreviation for Statutes of Ontario. Statutes are assigned a chapter number based on the order in which they receive Royal Assent in a given year. A public statute can be cited  using the abbreviation S.O., followed by the year of Royal Assent and the chapter number.

For example: the first public statute that received Royal Assent in 2006, the Family Statute Law Amendment Act, 2006, may be cited as S.O. 2006, c. 1.

Source law: Law as made by the person or body with the authority to make it. In the case of statutes, the source law is the statute as enacted by the Legislature. In the case of regulations, the source law is the regulation as filed with the Registrar of Regulations.

A source law may be a new statute or regulation (called the parent), an amending statute or regulation (it amends the parent), or a repealing or revoking statute or regulation (it repeals the parent statute or revokes the parent regulation).

Spent regulation: A consolidated version of a regulation as it read immediately before it became spent. A regulation is spent if:

  • statutory authority for it is no longer in force
  • events or the passage of time have rendered the regulation obsolete or
  • the regulation contains a set date for expiration and that date has passed.

A spent regulation is not in force but may continue to apply in some situations. For example, transitional provisions may extend its application in certain circumstances or it may have application in relation to past events.

Statute: The terms "statute" and "Act" are interchangeable.

Updated: January 16, 2017
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