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Government bills in the Senate now


Government bills in the Senate now

A look at government legislation currently in the Upper Chamber — and what these bills mean for you.

Bills are proposed laws. They vary in size, effect and the public interest they receive. Some have benefits that Canadians widely embrace and easily understand, such as Bill C-16, which enshrines concrete protections in Canadian law for transgender and other gender-diverse people. Others are much less publicized but still important, including a recently passed piece of legislation that adds 17.1 square kilometres of green space to the Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto. Regardless of their profile, federal bills have an effect on the lives of Canadians. Typically, government bills are introduced by a Cabinet Minister in the House of Commons, but this type of legislation can also originate in the Senate if it does not initiate spending or impose a tax.

Here’s a list of government bills currently before the Senate.


The BillC-51An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act

Status: Adopted at second reading and referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for consideration.

Senate SponsorSenator Murray Sinclair, independent Senator representing Manitoba.

Summary: Bill C-51 proposes to amend the Criminal Code provisions relating to sexual assault in order to clarify the law of consent and the defence of mistaken belief in consent. It further fills a gap in the law pertaining to the admissibility of a complainant’s private records. The bill also proposes to remove or repeal passages and provisions of the Code that have been ruled unconstitutional by the courts or that raise concerns under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as passages and provisions that are obsolete, redundant or that no longer have a place in criminal law.


The BillC-58An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status: Adopted at second reading and referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for consideration.

Senate Sponsor: Senator Pierrette Ringuette, independent Senator representing New Brunswick.

Summary: This legislation proposes to update the Access to Information Act for the first time in more than 30 years. Among other things, C-58 details reasons for which the head of a government institution may decline a request for access to a record, including because it is vexatious or made in bad faith, and give the requester the right to make a complaint to the information commissioner if their request is declined. It also clarifies the powers of the information commissioner and the privacy commissioner to examine documents containing information that is subject to solicitor–client privilege.


The Bill: C-55Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act

Status: Second reading.

Senate Sponsor: Senator Patricia Bovey, independent Senator representing Manitoba.

Summary: This bill would empower the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, through a ministerial order, to designate a marine protected area and to prohibit for up to five years certain activities within that area. By the end of that period, the Minister must recommend to the Governor in Council either that the order be replaced by regulations permanently designating the area as a marine protected area or that the order be repealed. In addition, the bill would empower the competent minister to cancel, with compensation, an oil and gas interest in areas where marine protected areas designated under the Oceans Act.


The Bill: C-48Oil Tanker Moratorium Act

StatusSecond reading.
Senate Sponsor: Senator Mobina Jaffer, independent Liberal Senator representing British Columbia.

Summary: The bill formalizes a crude oil tanker moratorium on the north coast of British Columbia and sets penalties for contravention of this moratorium.


The Bill: C-57Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act

Status: Second reading.

Senate Sponsor: Senator Diane Griffin, independent Senator representing Prince Edward Island.

Summary: This bill amends the Federal Sustainable Development Act to broaden its scope, to make the process for developing the federal sustainable development strategy more transparent, and to increase accountability to Parliament.


The Bill: C-69An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status: Second reading.

Senate Sponsor: Senator Grant Mitchell, Government Liaison.

Summary: The objective of the bill is to improve the rules for the assessment of major projects to protect the environment and waterways, to rebuild public trust in how decisions about resource projects are made, and to provide certainty and predictable timelines to industry and investors. It also ensures that Indigenous knowledge be formally regarded and integrated into review processes.


The Bill: C-62An Act to amend the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act and other Acts

Status: Second reading.

Senate Sponsor: Senator Diane Bellemare, Legislative Deputy.

Summary: The bill restores a previous public service labour relations regime, including matters related to essential services and the resolution of collective bargaining disputes, along with the right of bargaining agents to negotiate terms and conditions of employment related to sick leave and disability matters.


The Bill: C-47An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments)

Status: First reading.

Summary: The primary purpose of the bill is to make necessary changes to Canada’s export and import control regime that will allow Canada to join the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.


The Bill: C-21An Act to amend the Customs Act

Status: First reading.

Summary: The bill authorizes the Canada Border Services Agency to collect biographic information on all travellers – including Canadian citizens – as they leave Canada.


The Bill: C-59An Act respecting national security matters

Status: First reading.

Senate Sponsor: Senator Marc Gold, independent Senator representing Quebec.

Summary: The purposed of this bill is to enhance Canada’s national security while safeguarding Canadians’ values, rights and freedoms. It also strengthens accountability and transparency by creating the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) and the position of Intelligence Commissioner.


The Bill: C-68An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence

Status: First reading.

Summary: This bill aims to fulfill the Government’s commitment to better protect Canada’s freshwater and marine fisheries, helping to ensure their long-term economic and environmental sustainability. Changes include the restoration of protections removed for fish and fish habitats in 2012, as well as the introduction of new ecological safeguards. C-68 also seeks to better recognize the rights of Indigenous peoples with respect to fisheries.


The Bill: C-64Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act

Status: First reading.
Summary: This bill promotes the protection of the public, the environment — including coastlines and shorelines — and infrastructure by regulating abandoned or hazardous vessels and wrecks in Canadian waters and, in certain cases, Canada’s exclusive economic zone, and by recognizing the responsibility and liability of owners for their vessels.


Photograph at top: copyright Senate of Canada.

Government bills in the Senate now