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Finding Point-in-Time-Legislation

Sometimes you need to know how an act (or a specific section of an act) read at an earlier point in time. It may be to confirm that the relevant portions of the legislation have not changed, to determine how a contract should be interpreted, or for some other reason.

Finding a point-in-time version of an act can be a challenge. Fortunately a number of electronic services offer point-in-time versions of legislation, although few of these services go back more than ten years. There are three main sources for point-in-time legislation: government websites, Quicklaw and CanLII.

The federal government provides point-in-time coverage of federal acts and regulations through the Department of Justice Canada website. To access these you should go to the act or regulation that you are interested in and then click on the link at the top to “Previous Versions”. The Justice Canada website has has point-in-time versions of acts from January 1, 2003 on and point-in-time versions of regulations from March 22, 2006 on.

The majority of the provincial Queen’s Printers provide some sort of point-in-time legislation, although some of them charge for this service.

Quicklaw provides point-in-time legislation for federal, Alberta, B.C. and Ontario legislation, but not for the other provinces or the three territories.

CanLII provides point-in-time versions of federal and provincial legislation, although its point-in-time coverage of territorial legislation is spotty. One particularly useful feature of CanLII’s point-in-time service is the ability to compare two different versions of a piece of legislation using the “Compare” button. Being able to see exactly how an act or regulation differs from the current legislation can be tremendously helpful.

Below is a table of point-in-time coverage on various databases. If I have missed anything, please let me know and I will add it to the table. I have noted paid resources.

Government website

Quicklaw

CanLII

Other

Federal

The Department of Justice Canada website has point-in-time versions of acts from January 1, 2003 on and of regulations from March 22, 2006 on.

1999-

2003-

Alberta

QPSource has point-in-time legislation for January 1, 2002 on. (Paid resource.)

2002-

2003-

British Columbia

QPLegaleze contains yearly statute consolidations starting on November 8, 1991. (Paid resource.)

2000-

2009-

Quickscribe offers point-in-time B.C. legislation. Coverage varies.

Manitoba

The Manitoba laws website has some point-in-time legislation. Find the consolidated version of the act you are looking at, and there should be a list of the older versions at the top.

Not available.

2003-

New Brunswick

The New Brunswick laws website allows you to search for how a specific statute read on any date from 2007 onward.

Not available.

2003-

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland has some point-in-time statutes and regulations, with coverage going back to August 1, 2010.

Not available.

2004-

Nova Scotia

Not available.

2003-

Ontario

Ontario has point-in-time law on its e-laws website.

1998-

2004-

Prince Edward Island

Not available.

2003-

Quebec

Légis Québec provides point-in-time versions of statutes. (Paid resource.)

Not available.

2004-

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan has a selection of point-in-time legislation back to 2004.

Not available.

2003-

Northwest Territories

Not available.

Coverage varies.

Nunavut

Not available.

Coverage varies.

Yukon

Not available.

Coverage varies.

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Comments

  1. The Alberta Heritage Digitization Project
    http://www.ourfutureourpast.ca/law/browse.aspx
    has available on its site the following Alberta materials:

    Alberta Gazette (includes Regulations) (1905 – 1990)
    Bills of the Alberta Legislature (1906 – 1990)
    Debates of the Alberta Legislature (Hansards) (1972 – 1993)
    Journals of the Alberta Legislature (1906 – 1989)
    Ordinances of the Northwest Territories (1877 – 1905)
    Revised Statutes of Alberta (1922, 1942, 1955, 1970, 1980)
    Statutes of Alberta (1906 – 1990)

  2. Josette McEachern

    Quickscribe has BC and Federal point in time legislation. But the ‘archive’ files vary across acts. Some go back only a few years and others, back to 1997.