How new laws and regulations are created
Laws affect nearly every aspect of our everyday lives. For example, we have laws that govern activities like driving a car, getting a job, and getting married. Laws help to ensure a safe and peaceful society. The Canadian legal system respects individual rights and ensures that our society is orderly. The rule of law, freedom under the law, democratic principles, and respect for others form the foundations of Canada's legal heritage.
Indigenous customs and traditions have also contributed to alternative approaches to laws, such as healing and sentencing circles, community justice, and restorative justice. Read more about the Indigenous Justice Program, which works to give Indigenous peoples a greater role in administering justice in their communities.
Because our society is so complex, it would be nearly impossible if lawmakers had to deal with all of the details of all the laws. To help with this, Parliament and provincial and territorial legislatures often pass laws to give departments or other government organizations the authority to make specific laws called regulations. As you’ll see below, regulations carry out the purposes of general laws or expand on them and have the force of a law. For example, there are regulations on the food we eat so we stay healthy or outline what kind of storage tank we need to use to keep oil products so we stay safe.
All Canadians should have an awareness and understanding how new laws and regulations are created. To get started, read more by following the process below, download and share our infographic, and check out the links below for related information.
Proposed policy is developed by the Government and is then presented to Cabinet for approval to draft a new bill.
- Cabinet is the Prime Minister’s forum for creating consensus among the Government’s Ministers.
- A bill is text of a legislative initiative that the Government submits to Parliament to be approved, and possibly amended, before becoming law.
Following the Cabinet’s approval, the Department of Justice drafts a bill. This is done in collaboration with a government department’s or agency’s policy development and legal services teams.
The bill is introduced in either the House of Commons or the Senate.
Traditionally, Parliamentarians then debate the principle of the bill and vote to decide whether it should be studied further.
If the bill passes second reading, it is sent to a Parliamentary Committee, which studies it in depth, holds public hearings to hear views and may make changes to the bill.
If the bill passes the vote, it is then sent to the other Chamber, where it goes through the same process.
The relevant organizations conduct an analysis for the development of regulatory proposals.
The relevant organizations conduct stakeholder engagement to seek views on possible policy approaches.
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