Traditionally, a general revision of the Alberta statutes takes place every 15 to 20 years. Alberta’s statutes were last revised in accordance with the Statute Revision Act, RSA 2000, c S-19, in 2000.
The purpose of a revision was to consolidate all amendments to the statutes since the last revision and to improve clarity in numbering the statutes. This is done by making non-substantive changes in wording, style, and organization. The Statute Revision Act now grants the Legislative Counsel Division broad powers to update as necessary.
Statutes introduced between general revisions were cited by reference to the year in which they were enacted (e.g., SA 1968) until they became incorporated in a general revision (e.g., RSA 2000). Statutes introduced after the revision in 2000 are still referenced by the year in which they were enacted (e.g., SA 2016).
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 Alberta Statutes, which can be accessed by full text searching.
Queen’s Printer (free access to the statutes): The Alberta Queen’s Printer contains a searchable current consolidation of the Alberta statutes and regulations, publishes legislative history tables, and provides links to previous versions of some legislation. The Alberta Queen’s Printer home page links to legislative research tools on the Legislative Assembly website, including Hansard (from 1906), bills (from 1906), and bill status tables (from 1989).
CanLII (free access to the statutes): CanLII.org contains the amended updated consolidated statutes of Alberta, with amendments back to February 2003. It is updated regularly from the Queen’s Printer website. 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 also an automatically generated note-up feature created using Reflex.
Quicklaw: Quicklaw publishes the current consolidation of Alberta’s statutes with regulations in Alberta Statutes and Regulations. It also includes detailed legislative history information. QuickCite includes judicial consideration of legislation.
WestlawNext Canada: Westlaw publishes the current consolidation of Alberta’s statutes and select regulations. KeyCite includes judicial consideration of legislation with extensive historical coverage.
QP Source Professional: QP Source Professional is a paid subscription service that includes statutes, regulations, and rules of court. It includes annual statute volumes since 1996 and point in time statutes back to Jan 1, 2002.
Our Future, Our Past: The Alberta Heritage Digitization Project: Our Future, Our Past: The Alberta Heritage Digitization Project is an initiative of Alberta libraries and the Law Foundation of Alberta provides free access to historical legislation from 1877 to 1990.
LLMC Digital: LLMC Digital Law Library is a paid subscription service that publishes electronic versions of older revisions of the Revised Statutes of Alberta.
HeinOnline: HeinOnline is a paid subscription service that publishes electronic versions of older revisions of the Revised Statutes of Alberta.
Once you have located a statutory provision, you must ensure that it is current. There are a variety of ways to find amendments to an Alberta 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 the Alberta Queen’s Printer 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.
- QP Source Professional highlights recent amendments to statutes.
- To receive notification of amendments to Alberta legislation, subscribe to an RSS feed. CanLII allows you to subscribe to a feed for an individual statute or regulation, or for all amendments. QP Source Professional also offers RSS feeds, through a paid subscription.
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 Alberta revisions and in other Canadian jurisdictions.
This legislative history information is published in information tables on the Alberta Queen’s Printer 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 the Alberta Queen’s Printer site, 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 1989, and include information about any subsequent amendments. QP Source Professional includes a Table of Public Statutes showing all Acts in the Revised Statutes of Alberta 2000 and all amendments that were enacted or came into force starting Dec 31, 2000. It is also possible to order printed copies of the current consolidation of the Alberta statutes, regulations and sessional volumes from the Alberta Queen’s Printer.
To learn more about 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 dated prior to 1958 is the Alberta Scrapbook Hansard Collection at the University of Alberta Rutherford North Library, located on the 2nd floor, which contains newspaper clippings that cover all the legislature proceedings dating back to 1906.
Citing a statute
The citation for a statute varies depending on whether you are citing to a revision, or to a sessional volume. For a citation to the Revised Statutes of Alberta, you would use the term “RSA”. If you are citing to a sessional volume, you would use “SA”. If you are citing section 1 of chapter A120 of the 2000 re-enacted statutes, the citation is as follows:
The Arbitration Act, RSA 2000, c A120, s 1.
If you are citing to the version of that Act that was passed in 2016, after the re-enactment in 2000, the citation is as follows:
The Arbitration Act, SA 2016, c 4, s 1.
Instead of RSA (for Revised Statutes of Alberta) you use SA (for Statutes of Alberta). The year and chapter number are both different. In this case the section number is the same, but often the section numbering will change.
There is often confusion about whether you need to cite all amendments when you cite a statutory provision. The Interpretation Act specifies 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.