How a Bill Becomes a Law

  1. 1st reading - Bill is received, printed and circulated. Often referred to as "tabling" the bill.
  2. 2nd reading - Debate on the principle of the bill.
  3. Study - Bill is sent to a committee for study. Often witnesses will speak on the merits of the bill, and so committee proceedings can be useful in determining the legislative intent of a bill.
  4. Report stage - Committee reports back to the House or Senate. Any motions to amend the bill are now debated.
  5. 3rd reading - Bill, as amended, is re-printed and circulated. There is no debate, and then the bill is put to a vote. 
  6. FEDERAL ONLY - If the bill was tabled and approved by the House of Commons, the bill is then sent to the Senate, where steps 1 through 5 are repeated (or vice-versa, if the bill started in the Senate).
  7. Royal assent - Once 3rd reading vote is approvedm the bill is sent to the Governor-General (federal) or Lieutenant-Governor (provincial) for final approval.
  8. Proclamation date - Bill comes into force (that is, becomes an official law). Sometimes this is the same date as the Royal assent; sometimes it is a different date, usually specified in the law itself.


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Content last updated: May 24, 2018