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Bills

The origin of new legislation

New legislation sponsored by the government, known as government bills, originates in government departments. New legislation can also originate from bills sponsored by members of the legislature, known as private member’s bills, or from initiatives by private parties, known as private bills. This page deals with government bills.

The department sponsoring a bill consults with interested parties, studies the policy issues and considers the economic and social impact of the proposed legislation. Sometimes discussion papers are released to promote public consultation. The documents prepared during this initial stage can be important in determining the policy behind any legislation that is eventually introduced.

Following study and consultation, the department prepares a legislative proposal which must go through a cabinet review process before a bill is drafted and again before the bill is introduced into the legislative assembly.

Readings in the Legislature

Legislation is introduced in the legislative assembly as a bill. Each bill must pass three readings in the legislative assembly and receive royal assent before it is passed into law.

First Reading
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Second Reading
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Committee
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Third Reading
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Royal Assent

First reading

The first reading occurs on the day the legislation is introduced. The minister of the sponsoring ministry will briefly introduce the bill in the legislature. There is no debate.

The first reading version of the bill contains explanatory notes about the legislation. These notes do not appear in the final version of the legislation. Bills dating back to 1999 are available on the Legislative Assembly website.

Second reading

During second reading, the sponsoring minister explains the purpose of the bill, and debate takes place on the main principles of the bill. Speeches in the legislature by the minister responsible for the legislation can be important in determining the intention behind the legislation. The proceedings of the legislature and of legislative committees are recorded in Hansard.

After the bill has passed second reading, it is sent to committee for detailed consideration on a clause by clause basis. This can be a standing legislative committee, or a Committee of the Whole House. Amendments to the bill can be proposed at this stage. You may want to review a transcript or report of the committee’s proceedings to find out why the bill was amended.

Third reading

The final version of the bill is circulated for third reading. There is usually no debate at this stage. Eventually, the government publishes volumes containing all legislation passed in a session of the legislature. Later, the legislation will be published in a hardcover sessional volume.

Finding a bill

Bills are available from the Legislative Assembly website, as are the Hansard debates. Go to the legislative session in which the bill was enacted, and look for it by bill number or by title.

Ascertaining the status of a bill

There are various ways to ascertain the status of a bill and to obtain references to the documents arising out of the legislative process.

The most current access to this information is through electronic sources.

  • The Legislative Assembly website has Status of Bills tables containing status information on bills back to 1999.
  • LexisNexis’ Legislative Pulse product also tracks legislative developments in Manitoba.

Citing a bill

According to the 8th edition of the McGill Guide, the proper format for citing a bill includes the bill number, the name of the bill, the legislative session, the jurisdiction, and the year.

Bill 4, The Elections Amendment Act, 1st Sess, 41st Leg, Manitoba, 2016.

Royal assent and coming into force

After the bill passes third reading, it receives royal assent from the Lieutenant Governor, the Queen’s representative. At that time it is assigned a chapter number.

If the bill is silent on how and when it comes into force, then it comes into force immediately upon receiving royal assent. If the bill indicates that it is to come into force in some other way, then it does not come into force on royal assent. See section 9 of The Interpretation Act, SM 2000, c 26.

The most common way for a bill to come into force is by order in council. This means that the bill does not come into force until the Lieutenant Governor in Council (in other words, Cabinet) issues an order proclaiming the legislation into force. There are several ways to locate proclamation information for a bill or a particular section of a bill.

  • The Manitoba Laws website contains proclamation information in a document called Proclamations, indicating whether legislation previously passed has come into force. The site also maintains a list of unproclaimed provisions.
  • The information table for a particular Act will indicate whether and when amendments have been proclaimed into force. They are available through Manitoba Laws. Alternatively, locate the legislation on Quicklaw (which is current and contains legislative history notes).
  • Another source of proclamation information are the information tables published in the sessional volumes.

Once you have found a reference to an order in council, you may want to find a copy of it. To do this, you can use Manitoba Laws (from 2008) or the Manitoba Orders in Council site (from 2007).  The Clerk of the Executive Council also employs an Order in Council Officer (204-945-3943) who may be able to assist with locating pre-2007 documents.

Additional Resources

Manitoba Laws website

Emily Katherine Grafton, “The Manitoba Legislative Assembly” (2011) 34:1 Canadian Parliamentary Review 35

Rules, Orders and Forms of Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba

Legislative Assembly of Manitoba website

Manitoba Legislative Library