Regulations are considered subordinate legislation because they are created pursuant to an enabling act. Specific provisions within the Act empower a Ministry or Cabinet (also known federally as the "Governor in Council" or provincially as the "Lieutenant-Governor in Council") to pass regulations. Regulations "flesh out" the details of the statutory regime created by the enabling act.
A sponsoring Minister makes a policy decision to have regulations drafted on a particular issue. Sometimes a draft of the regulations is prepared by Ministry staff; alternatively, the Office of Legislative Counsel is instructed to draft regulations. Either way, the originating Ministry is responsible for providing materials explaining the background behind the regulations; these are a key source for government policy.
Once a regulation (or amending regulation) has been enacted, it is published in the official Gazette. Federal regulations are published in Canada Gazette Part II [LAW LIBRARY level 3: KE119 or online]. The Government of Canada website also contains archives of the Gazette (1998 - ).
BC regulations are published in British Columbia Gazette. Part II, Regulations [LAW LIBRARY level 3: KEB71 .A24]. For 2001 onwards, the electronic version of B.C. Gazette, Part II is available via BC Laws.
After publication in the official Gazettes, regulations currently in effect are consolidated for convenience. Current consolidations of federal and BC regulations are available online via the Law Library's Legislation & Government guide; see: Consolidated Regulations of Canada (Dept. of Justice) and BC Laws. Note the currency date of regulations you use.
For searching historical regulations, consolidated indexes are available for both federal and for provincial regulations. Each Index uses a different numbering system (explained below).
Canada Gazette Part II's Consolidated Index of Statutory Instruments [LAW LIBRARY level 3: KE125 .C363] (Ceased in 2013) has two Tables.
- Table I lists regulations alphabetically by title and provides the title of the enabling Act. Once you know the enabling Act, use Table II.
- Table II lists Statutes of Canada alphabetically by title; below each Act's title appears a list of regulations made pursuant to that Act.
Historically, federal regulations were consolidated only once in print in Consolidated Regulations of Canada [LAW LIBRARY level 3: KE119 1978] published in 1978. These regulations are cited as "CRC" plus the chapter (c) number.
Regulations created after 1978 are numbered in two ways, e.g. SOR/93-54 or SI/2004-16. Regardless of the prefix, in current federal regulations the numbers represent date-reg number, e.g. /93-54 means 1993, regulation #54. Most post-1978 regulations are SOR (Statututory Orders and Regulations) but some are SI (Statutory Instruments).
Index of Current B.C. Regulations [LAW LIBRARY level 3: KEB89 .B74] lists Statutes of British Columbia alphabetically by title. Below each Act's title appears a list of regulations made pursuant to that enabling act.
BC regulations are numbered as B.C. Reg. 140/76 or B.C. Reg. 78/2002. For BC regulations, the number sequence is regulation number/date.