Discontinuance of the Printed Edition of the Canada Gazette

Division 27 of Part 4 of the federal Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act (legislation to implement Budget 2012 measures), which received royal assent on June 29, 2012, will repeal section 13 of the Statutory Instruments Act on April 1, 2014, and remove the requirement to deliver and sell printed copies of the Canada Gazette.

Regulatory amendments were required to repeal sections 19 and 20, as well as Schedules I and II of the Statutory Instruments Regulations, in order to remove all references to the printed copy of the Canada Gazette. These were made in Regulations Amending the Statutory Instruments Regulations (SOR/2013-85) published in the May 8, 2013, issue of the Gazette, Part II, Vol. 147, No. 10, p. 1282.

Thus, effective April 1, 2014, the Gazette will be available only in electronic formats (online and in PDF). The electronic versions will continue to be available free of charge on the Canada Gazette website.

Subscribers to the printed copy of the Gazette will have their subscription periods and rates automatically adjusted in order to account for these changes.

These measures are to support the government’s greening initiatives as part of its Sustainable Development Strategy. According to the government, this will:

  • Reduce costs: Revenues from the sale of the printed version are steadily declining while costs of printing are steadily increasing. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of visits to the Canada Gazette website (almost 500,000 unique visits in 2010–11). Consequently, the demand for printed copies of the Gazette has significantly declined: there were 223 private subscribers in 2012 compared to 1466 in 2007, a decrease of 85 percent. 
  • Avoid duplication: The printed version of the Gazette is identical to the electronic version, which is available free of charge on the Gazette website.  
  • Contribute to the government’s commitment to sustainable development: Terminating the printing of paper copies of the Gazette will assist in reducing the consumption of energy resources and demonstrates that the government is taking action toward the greening of its operations.

Furthermore, the government suggests that moving exclusively to electronic publishing is not likely to have a major impact on the ability of Canadians to access the Canada Gazette. Industry Canada statistics indicate that 8 out of 10 Canadian households (79 percent) have access to the Internet, and over one half of connected households used more than one type of device to go online. As well, approximately 81 percent of households located in census metropolitan areas and 76 percent of households located in census agglomerations had home Internet access, and 71 percent of households outside of these areas had home Internet access.

Canadians living in rural communities who do not have an Internet connection will be able to access the Gazette at a public library, as most libraries today are equipped with computers that have Internet access. Alternatively, Canadians can contact their community’s municipal office and ask for the nearest public location that is equipped with Internet access.

Eliminating the print version of the Canada Gazette will not make much of a dent in the federal budget; the government will only save $300,000 a year, but I guess every little measure helps and will reduce waste, including unnecessary duplication.

It is possible that this measure will inconvenience some Canadians, maybe even to the point that they will no longer be as informed—either by choice or circumstance. But I think it is more likely that those individuals and institutions that want to read the Gazette, or have it handy for reference, will find other means to do so, whether it’s accessing it from home, the library, or another wired location, or finding someone to print the whole thing for them. It will remain available and very easily accessible for the majority of the population.

It also acts as an example of sustainability, despite the fairly small number of printed copies available. No doubt, there is much more paper used and wasted through government activity, but not printing hundreds of weekly copies of a document that regularly reaches 1,000 pages is a decent start.

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Comments

  1. This is probably inevitable. No doubt subscriptions to the Gazette have waned over the years as users turn to the electronic version as their preferred source. It’s a cost-saving measure for law firms as well to reduce their subscription costs and the amount of paper they collect. And an electronic copy is far more versatile in terms of storage and searchability. I would imagine many other provincial jurisdictions will follow suit as printing and mailing costs continue to overshadow a dwindling subscriber base.

    Since the Gazette can be used as evidence of the text in court, I’m curious as to what measures were taken, if any, to ensure the integrity of the ‘official’ digital publication. Are they just securing by way of Adobe’s password security? Is that sufficient? Is the document produced to an archival standard (PDF-a)? It does not appear to have any digital signature, unlike some of Australia’s legislative publications (see Australian Capital Territory legislation: http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/) — is that necessary for authentication?

    In a digital world, is there still value in a weekly or bi-weekly Gazette publication? Why not just scan and publish in an online digest? Are Gazettes completely obsolete?