A User's Guide to Legislation

A User's Guide to Legislation

Table of Contents

Publications

Statutes of Alberta: annual volumes

Each year the public acts and private acts enacted by the Legislature that year (bills that receive Royal Assent) are published by the Queen's Printer in a hard-cover volume. The volume also contains reference materials. The annual volumes of the Statutes of Alberta are the authoritative source for interpreting and applying Alberta's acts.

Public acts include entirely new public acts, public amendment acts, repeal acts and appropriation acts. Private acts are brought forward (or "petitioned") by Members of the Legislative Assembly, and do not affect the population as a whole.

The annual volume contains:

  • a table of contents that lists the acts by chapter number
  • an alphabetical list of acts
  • public acts enacted in that year
  • private acts enacted in that year
  • reference materials.

The first page of each act contains the following information:

  • the bill number under which the act was introduced in the Legislative Assembly (in the upper left hand corner)
  • the title of the act
  • the chapter number assigned to the act
  • the date on which the act was given Royal Assent.

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Statutes of Alberta: loose-leaf

The Queen's Printer also publishes a 16-volume loose-leaf consolidation of the public acts, excluding appropriation acts. These volumes are updated as soon as possible after new acts are enacted or amendments come into effect. Volumes 1 to 15 consolidate the public acts enacted by the Alberta Legislature. Volume 16 also contains those amendment acts from the Revised Statutes of Alberta 2000 that are still awaiting proclamation, RSA 2000 Schedules A to D, proclamation tables, and the Table of Public Statutes (printed on pink paper).

The loose-leaf version is an unofficial consolidation. The original acts, in the hard cover volumes of the Revised Statutes of Alberta 2000 and the annual Statutes of Alberta, should be consulted for all purposes of interpreting and applying the law.

The Alberta Gazette Part II

Regulations filed under the Regulations Act, except those exempted from publication under that act, are published in Part II of The Alberta Gazette within a month of being filed. The Gazette is available from the Queen's Printer.

Other Formats

Alberta Statutes and Regulations are also available in pamphlet form, and on the Queen's Printer web site.

How to cite statutes (Acts)

Statutes (Acts) are referred to by their titles. For court and other legal purposes, a complete citation would consist of the title of the act followed by a reference to the more recent of

  • the most recent statute revision in which that act was included
  • the year in which the act was enacted (received Royal Assent)

plus the chapter number of the act.

Entirely new public acts are given alpha-numeric chapter numbers; other acts are numbered Chapter 1, 2, 3 etc.

The statute revision is cited in this form: Revised Statutes of Alberta 2000. This may be abbreviated as RSA 2000.

Years of enactment are cited in this form: Statutes of Alberta, 2002. This may be abbreviated as SA 2002.

Here are some examples of citations of acts:

Cooperatives Act (SA 2001 cC-28.1);

Hospitals Act (RSA 2000 cH-12);

Public Works Amendment Act, 2002 (SA 2002 c21).

How to cite regulations

A regulation may be cited by its title, or as "Alberta Regulation" or "Alta. Reg." or "AR" followed by its number, a slash and the last two figures of the calendar year of the filing of the regulation. For example, the Partnership Regulation may be cited as:

  • Wildlife Regulation, or
  • Wildlife Regulation, Alberta Regulation 143/97, or
  • Wildlife Regulation (Alta. Reg. 143/97), or
  • Wildlife Regulation (AR 143/97)

Beginning with regulations filed in the year 2000, all four figures of the calendar year are used in Alberta Regulation numbers; for example, Change of Name Regulation (AR 16/2000).

Interpretation Act

Users of the Statutes of Alberta should be aware of the Interpretation Act (RSA 2000 cI-8).  It sets out various presumptions, definitions, and rules of statutory interpretation and construction that apply to all Alberta acts and regulations.  For example, the Interpretation Act contains definitions that apply to words and phrases used in all acts, except where an act indicates otherwise.

Reference Materials

Reference aids are placed at the end of the annual volume and in the supplement volume of the loose-leaf statutes. The reference materials included are:

Proclamation Tables - (printed on white paper)

These tables list:

  • all enactments brought into force by proclamation
  • unproclaimed public enactments
  • acts amended by unproclaimed enactments
  • acts repealed by unproclaimed enactments
  • public enactments that expire on named dates
  • public enactments that come into force on named dates.

Table of Public Statutes - (printed on pink paper)

Part 1 of the table shows all acts in the Revised Statutes of Alberta 2000, all amendments to those acts, and all other public acts and amendments enacted between December 31, 2000 and the date stated in the first paragraph of the table.

Part 2 of the table shows public acts enacted before December 31, 2000 for which no express repeals have been found, and which were not consolidated in or repealed by the Revised Statutes of Alberta 2000.

Table of Private Statutes of the Province of Alberta - (annual volume only: printed on blue paper)

The table shows all the private acts, and amendments to them, enacted up to the date printed under the title of the table.

RSA 2000 Schedules - (loose-leaf statutes)

Schedules A to D to the Revised Statutes of Alberta 2000 are included in the last volume of the loose-leaf statutes.

  • Schedule A: Acts Consolidated in RSA 2000
  • Schedule B: Acts Omitted from and Repealed by RSA 2000
  • Schedule C: Acts Not Consolidated Nor Repealed by RSA 2000
  • Schedule D: Table of Concordance

Organization of a Statute (Act)

Preambles

Some acts begin with a preamble. The preamble is part of the act and may be used to interpret the act.

Definitions

Most acts contain a definition section that lists, in alphabetical order, definitions of terms used in the act.  The definition section is usually at the beginning of the act.  However, definitions that are restricted in their application to a section, part, division or other portion of an act may be at the beginning of that section, part, division or other portion.

Marginal Notes and Section Headers (Sidenotes)

Marginal notes and section headers (sidenotes) are not part of the statute and should not be relied on to interpret the act.  They are included only for convenience of reference and may be changed editorially whenever appropriate.

Sections, Subsections, etc.

Every act is composed of numbered sections, cited as section 1, 2, 3, etc.

  • many sections are further divided into two or more subsections, cited as subsection (1), (2), (3), etc.
  • some sections and subsections contain clauses, cited as clause (a), (b), (c), etc., subclauses, cited as subclause (i), (ii), (iii), etc.,paragraphs, cited as paragraph (A), (B), (C), etc., and subparagraphs, cited as subparagraph (I), (II), (III), etc.

Decimal Numbering

The numbering system can be easily understood by regarding each section number as if it were followed by a decimal point and some zeros that are not shown; that is, section 4 can be thought of as 4.0 or 4.00 etc.

In applying the system, only one decimal place is usually needed, so that between sections 4 (4.0) and 5 (5.0) sections 4.1 to 4.9 can be added (4.10 is not used since it is the same as 4.1), for a total of nine sections.

By later amendments, up to nine more sections can be added between any two sections by using two decimal places, for example:

  • between section 4 and 4.1, sections 4.01 to 4.09 can be added,
  • between sections 4.1 and 4.2, sections 4.11 to 4.19 can be added, and
  • between sections 4.9 and 5, sections 4.91 to 4.99 can be added

and in the same manner a further nine sections can be added between any of those sections by using three decimal places.

If it is necessary to add more than nine sections in the same place at the same time, then some of the sections are numbered using an additional decimal place.

The same rules apply to adding new subsections, clauses, subclauses and paragraphs, so that

  • subsections are numbered (1.1) to (1.9),
  • clauses are numbered (a.1) to (a.9),
  • subclauses are numbered (i.1) to (i.9),
  • paragraphs are numbered (A.1) to (A.9), and
  • subparagraphs are numbered (I.1) to (I.9).

Parts, Divisions

Some acts are divided into numbered parts, cited as Part 1, Part 2, etc.  A part may be divided into divisions cited as Division 1, Division 2, etc.

Transitional Provisions

If an act or provision cannot come into force on an intended day without hardship or confusion occurring, the act may contain a transitional provision.  Transitional provisions are used to provide for the transition from an earlier act to the act that replaces it, or to phase in how a new or an amending act applies to persons affected by it.  A transitional provision may be included in an act if, for example, certain provisions of the previous act will apply for a significant period of time or if the provisions may affect many persons. Transitional provisions are usually located near the end of the act.

Consequential Amendments

Consequential amendments in an act amend other acts that are affected by that act. Consequential amendments are included in the acts as published in the annual volume.

In the loose-leaf statutes and office consolidations, all amendments are incorporated into the amended acts. If an act made consequential amendments to other acts, an editorial note to that effect is included in the consolidated amending act.

Repeal Provisions

Provisions repealing other acts are placed near the end of the act, immediately before the coming into force section.

Coming Into Force Provisions

The section dealing with the coming into force of an act or of provisions of an act is usually the last section of the act.  If there is no coming into force provision in an act, the Interpretation Act (RSA 2000 cI-8) provides that the act comes into force on the date of Royal Assent.  The Royal Assent date is on the first page of each act in the annual statute volume, following the chapter number. 

If an act, or a portion of an act, comes into force in a manner other than by Royal Assent, the last section of the act will set out the method.  The act, or portion of the act, may come into force on proclamation or on a named future date, or may be deemed to have come into force on a named previous date.

Citations (Historical References)

Each section of a consolidated act is followed by the citation for that section and the citations of any amendments to that section.  Citations do not form part of the act.  They are added editorially.

Federal legislation

Child Support Guidelines
Criminal Code of Canada
Divorce Act
Youth Criminal Justice Act

 Publications