19 Ontario Official Sources

Ontario: E-Laws

With the coming into force of the Legislation Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 21, Sched F on July 25, 2007, E-laws became an official source of Ontario statutes and regulations. All of current consolidated law (statutes and regulations), source law (annual statutes and regulations), period in time law, and repealed/revoked/spent law are official.

Out of the many piece of legislation produced every year, only a few are truly new, in the sense that they create an entirely new act or regulation that stands alone. Most acts and regs simply amend one or more pre-existing pieces of legislation.

Statutes and regulations that create entirely new pieces of legislation essentially appear twice on e-Laws; once in their as-passed form in the source-law section of the site, and again in the consolidated part of the site. When a new act or regulation moves from source to consolidated, it drops some sections, as discussed later.

Statutes and regulations that simply amend pre-existing pieces of legislation only appear once, in source law… Their content appears in the consolidated law, as amendments to other acts, but they themselves, as individual entities, do not. So, what does this mean for you?

If you want to see what a particular, non-amending act looks like today, you need to work with consolidated law. If you want to see a piece of legislation in its “as passed” form, such as to see the wording of transitional provisions or what previous act or regulation was repealed by it, you need to look at the source law version of the act or regulation.

Note that acts may be listed under different names in the two sections of e-laws. Some source laws can be classified as omnibus bills. Therefore, the annual statute will have one name, but it will create multiple acts with various titles that move into the consolidated law section.

E-laws uses a consistent browse/search filtering method for access, involving a combination of radio buttons, checkboxes, and dropdown menus. When possible (ie looking for a known item), the default “Browse” tab option is preferable. The alphabetized list defaults to Current Statutes, but can be populated with other results by using the Consolidated or Source radio buttons.

Current Consolidated Law

Consolidated law is “a version of a statute or regulation that shows:

  • any amendments made to the statute or regulation; and
  • any changes made to the statute or regulation under the change powers.”

It is law as it reads at the moment of access, or at least up to the e-laws currency date. Although not explicitly linked to the Ontario Gazette, the currency date is usually a few days after the publication date of the most recent issue of the Gazette.

To work with consolidated law, it is usually easiest to browse to the statute you’re interested in (or that the statute that the regulation you are interested in belongs to). Acts are listed alphabetized by short title. Once there, the top of the page has a wealth of useful information:


“Versions” provide point/period in time access to older versions of legislation, as a new version is created every time the act/regulation is amended. While the basic statement that “[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” is true, the whole story is actually a bit more complicated.

While period in time versions of legislation were not created before this date, it remains possible to find some acts and regulations that have versions that predate 2004, such as the Blind Persons’ Rights Act, RSO 1990, c B.7, which has a single version that spans from “December 31, 1990 – (e-Laws currency date)” (ie the date that the RSO 1990 came into force). Essentially, if an act was unamended from Dec. 31, 1991 to 2004, the (oldest) version on e-Laws will predate the nominal Jan. 1, 2004 start date for versions. This can also be the case if the act only had a single amendment between Dec 31, 1991, and Jan. 1, 2004: An example is the Bridges Act, RSO 1990, c B.12, which has a version that stretches from April 1, 1997 – June 21, 2006. The act was amended in 1997, and not again until 2006. So, we can’t see how it read from Dec 31, 1991 to March 31, 1997, but we can see it from April 1, 1997 onwards, although that date predates the starting point for versions. Knowing this can be useful for finding a point in time version of a piece of legislation, even if the date you’re interested in is “too early.”

Regulations under This Act

Consolidated versions of regulations made under the authority of the act are all grouped in this tab, organized in reverse chronological order (newest first). The list order only is related to the original filing of the regulations, so an “older” regulation may actually be a newer consolidation than a “newer” regulation, if it has been amended.

Revoked/spent regulations under this Act

“Revoked/spent regulations under this Act” is probably the least useful part of the page, but nonetheless has value, as it allows you to see no longer in force regulations that belonged to the act. Regulations, more than acts, are often created explicitly to only be in force for a set period of time, after which they are “spent.”

Predecessor Sections

It’s also important to know that in consolidated law, each section or subsection of an act or regulation will have one or more citations at its end. These are called “predecessor sections” and tell you where the section came from, which is necessary if you need to complete a legislative history.

For example, if you look at the current version of subsection 5(1) of the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 12, the predecessor sections (“2006, c. 12, s. 5 (1); 2009, c. 33, Sched. 22, s. 9 (1); 2020, c. 36, Sched. 40, s. 1.”) tell us that this subsection originated in SO 2006, c 12, s 5(1), and that it has been amended in some way twice, by SO 2009, c 33, Sched 22, s 9(1) and by SO 2020, c 36, Sched 40, s 1. You would have to look at these amending acts in Source Law to see what each one does (add, amend, revoke language).

Other Information

You may see greyed out text in consolidated legislation. This is “not-yet-in-force law” and can indicate original sections not yet in force, and amended/new material that is not yet in force​. These sections will be accompanied by editorial notes, if appropriate.

What isn’t included in consolidated law are sections that deal with how the act came into force, consequential amendments to other acts, and that enact the short title of the act. To read this information, you’ll need to move from the consolidated law section of E-laws, to source law.

Source Law

Source Law is where you will find “as passed” (acts: annual statutes or “as made/filed”​ (regulations) legislation, from 2000 forwards. Like the consolidations, if possible, access these materials by browsing to the year when the act/regulation of interest was passed/made. These versions do not include later amendments​, but do include in force, consequential amendment, and short title sections​.

Browsing to Source law statutes for a given year will essentially yield an electronic version of the Annual Statutes… Except they are organized from highest chapter number to lowest (or in essence, newest to oldest)! Important information about the act, including its bill number (essential for legislative histories) and date of Royal Assent appear in this list.

In an individual act, while the short title appears as the page heading, the act’s actual text begins with its long title. Longer acts will have a table of contents, which may be clickable to jump to a given section.

Regulations as filed tend to be voluminous, often being in the hundreds for a given year. They are published both in the Ontario Gazette and on e-Laws, but often using the versions on e-Laws is simpler, as the Gazette contains a lot more than regulations, and can require a bit more manipulation to use. Both versions are official, as was the Ontario Gazette in paper (although “[t]he Ontario Gazette is now available in digital format only. The print version ceased on March 31, 2021.”).

Regulations are also arranged in newest to oldest  order (highest regulation number to lowest), listed along with their authorizing act, and date of filing. Very conveniently, each regulation begins with a fairly long, but meaningful list of dates. For example, Personal Service Settings, O Reg 475/19 has the following list:

Made: December 12, 2019
Filed: December 23, 2019
Published on e-Laws: December 23, 2019
Printed in The Ontario Gazette: January 11, 2020

These dates are important to understand the delay between a regulation being made, and it being filed (which is the date upon which it is in force, if no other date is stated), and that even if it takes a little while for a regulation to be published in the Gazette, the regulation was available through e-Laws concurrent with filing/coming into force.

Legislative Tables

Public Statutes and Ministers Responsible

E-Laws used to produce continuously updated detailed legislative history tables, which listed every amended/added/repealed section of every act and regulation. Unfortunately, these tables ceased to be updated in 2015 (they theoretically are still available as massive zip files, but are becoming too dated to be much use). Now, there is a “Public statutes and ministers responsible” table which lists amongst other things, “whether any laws amended the statute or any change notices were given affecting it.” However, this list is at the act, not section level, and some acts have dozens of amendments, so being able to zero in on a given section is a significant challenge.

This seems like it shouldn’t matter, as sections in the current consolidated version of a piece of legislation should list all amendments, via predecessor sections. However it is not that simple. For example, look at section 21.9.1 in the current consolidation of the Courts of Justice Act, RSO 1990, c C.43. Its predecessor section reads “Repealed: 2020, c. 25, Sched. 2, s. 3.” On the face of it, there is no reason to disbelieve that… that this section was part of the RSO 1990, and continued along until its 2020 repeal. That is not accurate. As this was a repeal after the inception of point in time legislation, we can look at a version of this section before its repeal, which has a very different predecessor: “1996, c. 25, ss. 1 (4), 9 (17, 18); 1998, c. 20, Sched. A, s. 6.” Now, these 1996 and 1998 acts are not on e-Laws but we can find them elsewhere. However, we only knew about them because the section was repealed after the inception of point in time access. What about a section of an act that dates back to the RSO 1990 (ie December 31, 1991), that was extensively amended between then and its repeal in 2002? E-Laws will only show the citation of the repealing act in 2002, and there is no relevant period in time version to refer to.

This is where the Public Statutes and Ministers Responsible comes into play. While it is not at the section level, it does list all amendments to everything in the RSO 1990 or made since. This allows us to go through the potentially extensive list of amendments to an act to determine a) if a given amendment is to the section(s) of interest, and then b) if a given amendment came into force (and if so, when). This latter process is completed via the table of Proclamations.


In this table, we find “public statutes and provisions of public statutes that were included in the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990, or were enacted on or after January 1, 1991, and that: came into force on proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, have been proclaimed to come into force on a future date; or
are yet to be proclaimed into force.” In other words, if we need to know if/when a section of a 1995 act that required a proclamation, has in fact been proclaimed, this is where to look.

Helpfully, for proclamations after July 1, 2009, “Parent Statute Affected” is also listed. This means that if proclaiming Act A brings an amendment to Act B into force (ie affects Act A affects Act B), Act B will also be listed, in the last column.

Less helpfully, while the Date in Force is listed, the citation to the actual proclamation is not, which makes it challenging to find the actual proclamation, if it is needed: There can be some time between the publishing of a proclamation, and the actual in force date.

Public statute provisions repealed under section 10.1 of the Legislation Act, 2006

Historically, a common question was around the timing of proclamations, and there often was an assumption that just because a number of years had passed, that something would have inevitably been proclaimed into force. This was not the case. Acts or sections could linger for literally decades, in the statute, but not in force. With the introduction in 2009 of the Legislation Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 21, Sched F, s 10.1, this is no longer the case. Effectively, if something remains unproclaimed after 10 years, it will be repealed. This table lists these repeals.

Need older Ontario legislation?

E-laws’ Source Law goes back to 2000, and point in time legislation to January 1, 2004 (with some exceptions either way). This is, in the grand scheme of legislative research, not particularly far back. Happily, a number of online sources now duplicate the print Annual and Revised Statutes of Ontario, so this material is available without having to access the print. These sources are not official per se, but they are often scans of official material, which is hardly different from photocopying a print volume.

Heinonline, by subscription, offers complete coverage of all Annual and Revised Statutes of Ontario dating back to Confederation.

York’s Statutes of Ontario collection, while a work in progress, offers chapter-level (rather than volume-level) access back to SO 1970 and RSO 1914, at this time.

The University of Toronto, via the Internet Archive, has digitized most volumes of the Ontario Gazette. These are arranged at the volume level, so require downloading entire volumes of the Gazette, and are therefore rather challenging to use.

Finally, while online sources are often more accessible, they are not always available due to licensing issues or missing content. Larger law libraries will carry all Revised and Annual Ontario statutes, and the Ontario Gazette.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Legal Research - A Practical Perspective Copyright © 2022 by Meris Bray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book