Bills are legislative proposals submitted for the approval of Parliament. They are published either under the authority of the House of Commons or the Senate, depending on where they originate. Government bills are drafted by the Department of Justice, while Private Members’ bills are prepared with the assistance of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel Office. All bills originating in the House of Commons are also available on the House of Commons website.
To provide a handy means of referring to them, bills are numbered as they are introduced during the course of a session of Parliament. The numbering varies according to the type of bill and its House of origin, as explained below.
Public bills sponsored by Ministers of the Crown and originating in the House of Commons are numbered from C-2 to C-200 in the order in which they are introduced during the session. Bill C-1 is usually a pro forma bill introduced by the Prime Minister at the beginning of each session. It affirms the right of the House to conduct its proceedings and to legislate. The bill is entitled “An Act respecting the Administration of Oaths Office” and is given first reading, but does not proceed through any subsequent stages in the legislative process.
Public bills sponsored by private Members (Members who are not Ministers of the Crown) and introduced in the House of Commons are numbered consecutively from C-201 to C-1000 throughout the course of a Parliament.
Private bills, which can be sponsored only by private Members, differ from public bills in that they are for the benefit of the individuals or corporations named in them and can be introduced only on petition from the parties concerned. Private bills are usually introduced first in the Senate, although they may originate in the Commons. They are numbered consecutively from S-1001 or C-1001, depending on whether they originated in the Senate or in the House of Commons.
The numbers given to bills originating in the Senate are the same as those given to bills originating in the Commons, except that they are preceded by an “S” instead of a “C”. A bill originating in the Senate is not renumbered or reprinted when it is sent to the Commons. Bill S-1 is the Senate equivalent of Bill C-1 in the House of Commons.
|C-2 to C-200 for Government Bills in Commons|
|C-201 to C-1000 for Private Members’ Bills in Commons|
|C-1001 on for Private Bills in Commons|
|S-2 to S-200 for Government Bills in Senate|
|S-201 to S-1000 for Senators Public Bills|
|S-1001 and on for Private Bills in Senate|
A few unnumbered copies of each bill are available in the Chamber immediately after the bill is introduced. The House then orders the bill to be read a first time (which means the House is deemed to be informed of its contents) and to be printed. The Law Clerk’s Office is responsible for ensuring that the bill is printed and published on the House of Commons website.
If a bill is amended substantially at committee stage, the committee may order a reprint before it reports the bill to the House. If the bill is amended at report stage, the House may order a further reprint of the bill for use during third reading. Finally, when the bill receives third reading, the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel again arranges for the bill to be reprinted for the use of the Senate. Each new version of the bill is added to the House of Commons website.
In addition to giving the long title and the number of the bill and identifying the sponsor, the cover of a bill shows the date it has received first reading and whether it is the version printed as amended and reported by the committee or as passed by the House. The name of the sponsor does not appear on the version adopted at third reading by the House.
In the case of Senate bills, the complete title, number and date on which the bill was adopted by the Senate appear on the bill as it was presented to the House of Commons. There is no formal reprinting of Senate bills for the various readings in the House.
Once a bill is passed by both Houses of Parliament and receives Royal Assent, it becomes an Act of Parliament. The text is reprinted as an Act with a chapter number for inclusion in the Statutes of Canada. All bills receiving Royal Assent in a calendar year are bound as the Statutes for that year. Both individual chapters and the annual volumes of the Statutes of Canada are available on the Department of Justice website .