About Bills and Legislation

The legislative process in Nunavut is similar in many ways to the parliamentary process used in all of Canada's federal, provincial and territorial legislatures. To become a law, Bills must pass through several stages of scrutiny. There are two basic types of Bills: Government Bills and Private Members' Bills. Government Bills are introduced by a Minister. Bills can propose new initiatives, or seek to amend existing Acts. However, only the Government can introduce a so-called "Money Bill" - a Bill that proposes to spend public funds.


At this stage, a Bill is introduced for the first time in the Legislative Assembly. The title of the Bill is read, but no debate on the Bill takes place. At this point, the Bill becomes a public document, and anyone may request a copy. If the Assembly votes to proceed further with the Bill, it moves to Second Reading.


At this stage, MLAs discuss the principle of the Bill. The sponsor of the Bill may give a speech to explain why the Bill is being introduced, and what it is intended to accomplish. MLAs may choose to speak about the Bill at this stage. When debate on the Bill is finished, the Assembly votes again. If the Bill receives Second Reading, it is usually referred to a Standing Committee.


At this stage, a Bill receives detailed, clause-by-clause scrutiny by one of the Assembly's Standing Committees. The sponsor of the Bill usually appears before the Standing Committee to answer questions about the Bill. The Standing Committee may invite organizations and members of the public to present their views on the Bill to the Standing Committee. Standing Committees may also hold public hearings on Bills in communities outside of the capital. Depending on the nature of the Bill under discussion, the Standing Committee stage may last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Standing Committees may propose amendments to the Bill. At the end of this stage, the Standing Committee will refer the Bill back to the House.


At this stage, all MLAs have an opportunity to discuss the Bill. During Committee of the Whole, the Speaker does not preside over the debate. Debate at this stage is more informal. The sponsor of the Bill will sit at the witnesses' table in the House to answer questions from MLAs about the Bill.


This is the last stage before the Bill receives Assent and becomes law. The purpose of this stage is to review the Bill in its final form.


At this stage, the Commissioner of Nunavut will give Assent to the Bill. This is similar to a Lieutenant Governor giving Assent to a Bill in a Canadian province.

It is important to note that a law does not always come into force immediately after receiving Assent. In some cases, the law specifies another date when it will come into effect. In others, it states that the effective date will be decided later by the Cabinet. 

Although Inuit Language translations of each Bill are prepared, only the English and French versions are authoritative. The Nunavut Gazette and consolidated acts and regulations of Nunavut are available online at the Department of Justice's Legislation Division website.