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Statutes

Statute revisions

Traditionally, a general revision of the Manitoba statutes took place every 15 to 20 years. However, there has not been a general revision since Manitoba’s statutes were re-enacted in 1987, in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Re Manitoba Language Rights, [1985] 1 SCR 721.

The purpose of a general revision was to consolidate all amendments to the statutes since the last revision, and to improve the statutes by making non-substantive changes in wording, style and organisation. Now that consolidation occurs on an ongoing basis (known as the Continuing Consolidation of the Statutes of Manitoba, or CCSM), and legislative counsel have been given broader powers to make editorial corrections, general revisions will likely occur less often.

Traditionally, statutes introduced between general revisions were cited by reference to the year in which they were enacted (e.g., SM 1968) until they became incorporated in a general revision (e.g., RSM 1970).

Finding statutory provisions

There are many different tools for locating relevant statutory provisions. These include:

  • conducting an electronic search of the text of the statutes
  • reviewing text books, encyclopedias, and periodical articles on your topic
  • reviewing commercial statutes compilations on your topic, which may have detailed indices
  • finding references to statutory provisions within relevant cases
  • scanning the names of the statutes

There are several electronic versions of the Manitoba statutes, which can be used for full text searches of the statutes and regulations.

Manitoba Laws free access to the statutes: Manitoba Laws contains a searchable current consolidation of the Manitoba statutes and regulations, and also publishes legislative history tables and provides links to previous versions of some legislation. In respect of some content, the Manitoba Laws home page links to legislative research tools on the Legislative Assembly website, including Hansard (from 1958), bills (from 1999), and bill status tables (from 1999).

CanLII free access to the statutes: CanLII.org contains the Continuing Consolidation of the Statutes of Manitoba, with amendments back to June 2003. It is updated regularly from the Manitoba Laws site. The legislation can be searched in full text, and earlier versions can be compared side-by-side with later versions to identify changes made during amendments. There is a note-up feature but it is not comprehensive. Users can subscribe to RSS feeds to be notified of changes to legislation.

Quicklaw: Quicklaw publishes the current consolidation of Manitoba’s statutes, with regulations, in Manitoba Statutes and Regulations. It also includes detailed legislative history information. QuickCite includes judicial consideration of legislation back to 1992.

WestlawNext Canada: Westlaw publishes the current consolidation of Manitoba’s statutes and regulations. KeyCite includes judicial consideration of legislation with extensive historical coverage.

LLMC Digital: LLMC Digital Law Library is a paid subscription service that publishes electronic versions of older revisions of the Revised Statutes of Manitoba.

HeinOnlineHeinOnline is a paid subscription service that publishes electronic versions of older revisions of the Revised Statutes of Manitoba.

Google Books:  Some older revisions of the Revised Statutes of Manitoba, along with a selection of older sessional volumes, are available through Google Books.

Finding amendments

Once you have located a statutory provision, you must ensure that it is current. There are a variety of ways to find amendments to a Manitoba statute.

  • Your first step should be to check the date to which the consolidation you are using is current. If you are using an electronic version of the statutes, always check the scope note for the electronic version.
  • Use Manitoba Laws to check the information table for the statute in question. It will list amendments and provide information about whether and when the amendments came into force.
  • To receive notification of amendments to Manitoba legislation, subscribe to an RSS feed. CanLII allows you to subscribe to a feed for an individual statute or regulation, or for all amendments.

Finding legislative history

To conduct effective research, and particularly to look for judicial consideration of a statutory provision, you need to know its prior year, chapter, and section numbers. You can usually obtain this information (back to the last revision) from historical notes at the end of each section of the revised statutes. This is the system employed in all prior Manitoba revisions and in other Canadian jurisdictions.

This legislative history information is published in information tables on the Manitoba Laws site, in the older print consolidations of the legislation, and directly under the section by commercial publishers such as Quicklaw. To see legislative history information about a statute on Manitoba Laws, locate the statute in the alphabetical listing, then click on the Information Table link for the statute. These information tables generally stretch back to the Re-enacted Statutes of Manitoba, and include information about any subsequent amendments.

The Great Library, the Legislative Reading Room, and the E.K. Williams Law Library have print copies of the current consolidation, along with previous revisions and sessional volumes.

To dig further into the legislative history of a provision, look for Hansard debates of the bill while it was in the process of being enacted.  Hansard can be searched back to 1958 on the Legislative Assembly website. An excellent resource for Hansard research is the Legislative Reading Room where print copies are available to be consulted in the Legislative Building in Winnipeg.

Citing a statute

The citation for a statute varies depending on whether you are citing to a revision, or to a sessional volume. If you are citing section 1 of chapter A120 of the 1987 re-enacted statutes, the citation is:

The Arbitration Act, RSM 1987, c A120, s 1.

If you are citing to the version of that Act that was passed in 1997, after the 1987 re-enactment, the citation is:

The Arbitration Act, SM 1997, c 4, s 1.

There are several changes. Instead of RSM (for Re-enacted Statutes of Manitoba) you use SM (for Statutes of Manitoba). The year and chapter number are both different. In this case the section number is the same, but often the section numbering will change.

The move to continuous electronic consolidation of statutory changes is starting to affect citation rules.  In Manitoba, given lawyers’ long-standing reliance on the Continuing Consolidation of the Statutes of Manitoba, often Manitoba court decisions and documents will only refer to the CCSM citation for statutes.  Thus, The Arbitration Act may be cited as The Arbitration Act, CCSM c A120.  However, section 2.1.6 of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation indicates that the CCSM citation is not sufficient on its own, though it may be included as an additional citation (e.g., The Arbitration Act, SM 1997, c 4, CCSM c A120, s 1).

There is often confusion about whether you need to cite all amendments when you cite a statutory provision. The Interpretation Act provides that any citation to an enactment in legislation is deemed to include all amendments to that enactment. The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation provides that citations are presumed to be to the statute as amended. It is therefore not necessary to include amendment information in court submissions. However, if a specific amendment is relevant to a point being discussed, it should be cited. Different rules apply to statute citations in contracts, as the court generally looks to the parties’ intention at the time the contract is made.