Federal Publications logo FEDERAL

Navigation Bar Contact Us Canadian Maps and Charts Books on Canada Home

How a Bill Becomes Law

All bills normally pass through a series of steps that are similar in both the Senate and the House.
  1. Introduction in either the House of Commons or the Senate
  2. 1st Reading: This step is not an actual reading but rather a first presentation of the Bill. This step authorizes the publishing of the Bill and allocates it a number: C-# for House bills and S-# for Senate bills.
  3. 2nd Reading: The principle of the bill is debated. Once the principle is adopted, the Bill is referred to parliamentary committees for further study.
  4. Committee: A committee hears witnesses, examines the bill clause by clause and submits a report with or without amendments
  5. Report Stage: Additional amendments to the bill may be moved, debated and voted on.
  6. 3rd Reading: This reading is the last opportunity for the House to amend the bill. Following this review, the bill is published for the last time.
  7. Sent to the other House (e.g., if the bill was passed by the House, it is then referred to the Senate): The process starts again from first reading
  8. Royal Assent: The Governor General or a deputy gives the bill Royal Assent in the Senate when the bill has been passed in exactly the same form by both Houses. It is assigned a Chapter number (e.g., Bill C-7 became Chapter 1 of the Statutes of Canada, 2000). The bill will then become law and comes into force on the day of Assent, unless otherwise provided in the bill itself.
The above process is described in detail in the House of Commons Compendium of Procedure, which replaced Précis of Procedure.
  1. Proclamation: If the coming-into-force date is to be fixed by an order of the Governor in Council, the date is determined by Cabinet, on the advice of the minister responsible for administering the Act. Draft orders are prepared by that minister's department. They are not subject to the Regulatory Review Process or the regulation-making requirements of the Statutory Instruments Act, because they are not considered to be regulations. However, before they are made, they are examined by the Regulations Section of the Department of Justice. After they are made, they are required by the Statutory Instruments Regulations to be published in Part II of the Canada Gazette under the "SI" designation. A list of proclamations or orders in council relating to the coming-into-force of Acts is published in each edition of Part III of the Canada Gazette.

Availability of Bills

Status of House Business and First and Third reading copies of a bill are published on the Parliament of Canada website.

There are three versions of a public bill that are published:
  1. First Reading Cat. #: XB(Parliament #)(Session #)-Bill #-1 e.g. Bill C-5, 1st reading, 36th Parliament, 1st session will be: XB361-5-1
  2. Third Reading Cat. #: XB(Parliament #)(Session #)- Bill #-3
  3. Royal Assent version which is the final version to be published. Cat.#: YX3-Year-Chapter #
A private bill is published in first and third reading versions. It will also appear in the Annual Statutes of Canada.


Standing Committee

A standing committee is an ongoing committee of the Houses of Parliament (there are Senate committees and House of Commons committees). Examples are the Commons Finance Committee and the Senate Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee.
When a bill's subject matter relates to an existing standing committee, that committee will study the bill.
Catalogue # for minutes of a Senate standing committee: YC(Committee #)-(Parliament)(Session#)-1-Issue# e.g. YC11-361-1-12

Legislative Committee

A legislative committee is struck when a bill's subject matter does not match that of a standing committee. In that case, a new committee is created. Catalogue # for minutes of a Senate legislative committee: YC1-(Parliament)(Session#)-Bill#-Issue# e.g. YC1-361-55-1

Committee Documents

House of Commons Committees publish minutes, reports and evidence of proceedings on the Parliament of Canada website.

Interesting Links:
Chamber Business

Price and availability subject to change. Shipping and applicable taxes extra.
Questions about this product? Please e-mail us.
This page last modified: March 7, 2013

Legislation main page
What's New · Home · Search · Books on Canada · Canadian Maps and Charts · Ordering · Contact Us

©Federal Publications Inc., 1998 - 2013
425 University Avenue, Ste. 401, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 1T6
Phone: (416) 860-1611 or toll-free 1-888-433-3782 · E-mail: info@fedpubs.com