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Glossary

Act: Also called a statute, or an Act of the Legislature. When a Bill passes third reading in the Legislative Assembly, and receives Assent, it is thereby enacted and becomes an Act, or law.

Amendment: A modification made to the text of a Bill, Act or Regulation by adding, removing or substituting text.

Annual Statutes: After the end of each calendar year, the Queen’s Printer publishes the official paper version of all Acts that were enacted during the year. These Acts are also on the Yukon Legislation Website and can be accessed under Annual Acts

The Acts that received Assent in 2006 for example, are referred to as the Statutes of Yukon 2006 (abbreviated as S.Y. 2006). Each statute has a title and a chapter number. The chapter numbers are assigned after the Acts receive Assent in a given year. For example, the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act is chapter 7 of the Statutes of Yukon 2006 and may be cited as S.Y. 2006, c. 7.

Assent: After a Bill has passed third reading in the Legislative Assembly, the Commissioner assents to the Bill by signing it. The Bill is thereby enacted and becomes an Act, or law. Unless an Act contains a stated effective date or a provision requiring that it be brought into force by Order-in-Council, it comes into force on the day Assent is given.

Bill: A proposed law that is introduced in the Legislative Assembly for review and debate. A Bill becomes an Act, or law, when it passes third reading and receives Assent.

Bill Stages: A Bill must pass through the following stages before it becomes law: first reading, second reading, committee, report, third reading, Assent.

Cabinet: The group of individuals who have been appointed Ministers (heads of government departments). Also called the Executive Council.

Chapter Numbers: After a Bill receives Assent, it is assigned a chapter number. The Act is then cited by its year of passage and chapter number. For example, the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act is chapter 7 of the Statutes of Yukon 2006 and may be cited as S.Y. 2006, c. 7.

Citation: The numerical reference for a piece of legislation. For example, the citation for the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act is S.Y. 2006, c.7, which refers to chapter 7 of the Statutes of Yukon 2006.

Citations for Regulations look different from those for Acts. For example, the citation for the Coal Regulation is O.I.C. 2003/54; O.I.C. means Order-in-Council which is the Order of the Commissioner in Executive Council that makes the Regulation. The number is assigned to the Order-in-Council when the Regulation is deposited with the Registrar of Regulations. Thus the Coal Regulation was the 54th Order-in-Council deposited with the Registrar in 2003.

Coming into force: The time when an Act or Regulation takes effect and becomes the law. Acts come into force upon Assent unless the Act specifies otherwise usually in a commencement section. Different provisions of the Act may come into force on different dates. The commencement section details how the Act or different provisions of the Act are to come into force; either on a specified date, under specified circumstances, or by Order-in-Council. A Regulation comes into force on the day it is deposited with the Registrar of Regulations, unless there is another date specified in the Regulation.

Commencement Section: Sometimes an Act has a commencement or coming into force section (usually the last section in the Act or near the end of the Act) which details how and when the Act or different provisions of the Act come into force. If there is no commencement or coming into force section, the Act comes into force on the date of Assent.

Commissioner: The person appointed by the Governor in Council under the Yukon Act to carry out the duties of the Commissioner under that Act. The Commissioner’s approval or Assent, is needed for a Bill to become law.

Commissioner in Executive Council: The Commissioner acting by and with the advice and consent of the Executive Council.

Commissioner’s Order or C.O.: Prior to October of 1979, Orders under Acts where made by the Commissioner. These are referred to as Commissioner’s Orders. Since that time, most Orders under Acts are made by the Commissioner in Executive Council or a Minister.

Committee: If a Bill passes second reading it moves to the committee stage (committee of the whole) where it is debated provision by provision. At this stage, amendments to a Bill may be proposed.

Committee of the Whole: A committee, composed of all MLAs other than the Speaker, which debates a Bill provision by provision.

Consolidation: A consolidated Act or regulation is one in which any amendments have been blended into the original text of the Act or regulation.

Dissolution: An action by the Commissioner, on the advice of the Premier, which ends a Legislative Assembly. Dissolution can also be automatic: the Yukon Act says that no Legislative Assembly can continue for more than five years after a general election. After dissolution, that particular Legislative Assembly no longer exists, and a new one must be created through a general election.  

Enact: A term used to describe the act of making a law.

Executive Council: See Cabinet.

First Reading: The introduction of a Bill to the Legislative Assembly is called First Reading. The MLA sponsoring the Bill introduces the proposed law and explains its purpose. The Bill is not debated at this time but MLAs vote on whether to accept it for further debate. A second or third reading will usually follow.

Governor in Council: The Governor General of Canada is the Queen’s representative for Canada. The Governor in Council is the Governor General acting by and with the advice and consent of the federal cabinet.

Legislation: Acts and Regulations. (In some contexts the term “legislation” also includes orders and other instruments that an Act may empower the Government to issue.)

Legislative Assembly: All the elected members of the territorial legislative assembly (MLAs) as a group, including the government and all opposition MLAs. While it is usual to speak of the Legislative Assembly as though it had a continuing existence, strictly speaking there are a series of Legislative Assemblies, each of which is created after a general election and ceases to exist on dissolution.  This is why formal documents refer to, for example, the 32nd Legislative Assembly.

Legislature: Formally, the Commissioner acting by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly. The term is also commonly used to refer to the chamber in the main Yukon Government Administration Building in Whitehorse where debates take place, and to the part of the building that includes that chamber as well as the offices of staff and MLAs.

MLA: A Member of the Legislative Assembly. Each MLA is elected by the voters of a particular electoral district. (An electoral district is also known as a constituency or a riding.)

Minister: An individual who has been appointed as a member of the Cabinet and who is responsible for one or more government departments.

Ministerial Order or M.O.: An Order of a Minister made under an Act e.g. an Order enacting regulations.

Order-in-Council or O.I.C.: An Order of the Commissioner in Executive Council made under an Act e.g. an Order enacting regulations.

Premier: The head of the Executive Council. The Premier has many special functions within the Government. The leader of the political party that has more MLAs than any other party is traditionally made Premier.

Prorogation: An action by the Commissioner, on the advice of the Premier, which ends a session of the Legislative Assembly, abolishing all pending business and halting all committee work. While the Legislative Assembly is prorogued, it still exists and MLAs retain all of their rights and privileges. See Dissolution.

Registrar of Regulations: The member of the public service of Yukon appointed under the Regulations Act as the Registrar with the responsibility for the recording, numbering, indexing and publication of all Regulations filed with the Registrar.

Regulation: Legislation that is subordinate to, and authorized by, an Act of the Legislature. An Act typically provides an overall policy framework and authorizes the making of Regulation(s) to provide the details to give effect to the policy. An Act may authorize the Commissioner in Executive Council, a Minister or another authorized body to make Regulations.

Repealed: When laws are repealed, they are no longer in force. Statutes and Regulations can be repealed; repealed and replaced by another Statute or Regulation with a different title; or renamed. They can also have built-in expiry provisions, or be enacted for a specific period, after which they are considered spent without the need for repeal. If the Act under which a Regulation is authorized is no longer in force the Regulation expires, unless a replacement Act with similar authority takes its place.

Revised Statutes of the Yukon 2002: Periodically, the public statutes are revised, primarily to consolidate amendments (or blend them into the original text of an Act). As part of a revision numbering may be simplified, the content may be reorganized and the language updated. The most recent revision was published in 2002 and is referred to as the Revised Statutes of the Yukon 2002. This consolidation included Acts that were in force on December 31, 2002 and all Acts in the revision are deemed to have come into force on January 1, 2003.

R.S.Y.: The abbreviation for the Revised Statutes of the Yukon. The citation R.S.Y. 2002, c. 1 for example indicates the Statute that has this citation (Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act) was revised and republished as chapter 1 of the 2002 Revision.

Second Reading: At second reading members of the Legislative Assembly debate a Bill’s general principles and goals. If the Bill passes second reading it moves to the committee stage where it is debated provision by provision.

Session: A session is made up of a series of sittings of the Legislative Assembly. A session begins with the Speech from the Throne and ends with prorogation or dissolution. 

Sitting: A meeting of the Legislative Assembly. A sitting typically lasts for several weeks; while business is not being conducted (for example, evenings and weekends) the sitting is adjourned. At least one sitting of the Legislative Assembly is held each year.

Statute: See Act.

S.Y.: The abbreviation used for Statutes of Yukon. The citation S.Y. 2006 c.7 for example indicates that the Statute that has this citation (Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act) is chapter 7 of the Statutes of Yukon 2006.

Third Reading: Third Reading is the final opportunity for the Legislative Assembly to debate a Bill before a final vote is taken on whether to pass it, although the Bill is not usually debated at this stage. If it is passed by the Legislative Assembly, it becomes an Act, or law, when it receives Assent.

Yukon Act: An Act of the Parliament of Canada that establishes the basic rules, powers and authorities for the operation of the Legislature and the Executive Council.