By Kelly Laycock
We’ve been making an attempt on this blog to highlight some of our underused resources at the library, and the perfect example would be our Saskatchewan Bills Database. Being new to the library, I’m still trying to get a handle on all of our many valuable research tools, so I decided to ask our Saskatoon Library Technician, who maintains the Bills Database, a few questions. Here is what she had to say:
Q: How long have the Saskatoon Library staff been compiling the information for this database?
A: The database was created by the Saskatoon librarian in 1993. It was developed to make it easier to keep track of proclamation dates and the history of the bill from the 1st reading to the in-force date. At the time it was created we were still using a lot of printed materials to find this information, which was very time consuming and sometimes quite confusing.
The oldest session years of Saskatchewan Bills Database are 1993-1994, and I have maintained the database with the assistance of the Saskatoon librarian since it was created.
Q: What information is included in the database?
A: The statute name, the bill number, the name of the bill amending a particular act, sections of the act that are new, amended or repealed, the progress of the bill through 1st, 2nd and 3rd readings, the in-force date of the Bill along with summaries from Justice Update and links to bills, and chapter numbers.
You can also search for all the bills from a particular session by choosing one of the sessions listed in the drop-down box under Legislature/Session search box.
Q: What is the Justice Update?
A: Justice Update is a publication from Queen’s Printer of Saskatchewan that comes out yearly and contains summaries of legislation passed during the most recent session. These summaries are excellent sources of information describing new legislation and changes that may affect current legislation. They are well written and easy to understand.
Q: Where else do you find your information and how often is the database updated?
A: The database includes information gathered from three different sources: the Legislative Assembly, the Queen’s Printer and the Government of Saskatchewan Legislative Services.
The Legislative Assembly website’s Progress of Bills chart is used for checking the 1st, 2nd and 3rd readings of new bills and also Assent dates.
The Queen’s Printer website is used to check for links to bills, chapter numbers and the Justice Update.
We receive information from the Government of Saskatchewan Legislative Services for the latest proclamations regarding coming-into-force dates, which tell us when an Act is in effect.
When the Legislature is in session, the database is updated weekly; when not in session, it is updated when proclamations for the Acts are received.
Q: It sounds like it must be a lot of work to maintain! What would you say is the most useful thing about this database?
A: The most useful thing about this database is that it is a compilation of three sources of information and it can save you time and frustration by having to search only one website instead of several.
Q: Who might find this database useful?
A: Anyone looking for Saskatchewan Acts and their amendments may find this database useful. For example, say you’re looking for legislation about the Saskatchewan Employment Act. Type the name of the act in the Statute Name search box, hit search and three records are retrieved. The first two results show which bills amended the act and the third one shows the original act. This gives the person searching for that act, among other things, the history of that particular act along with the links to details of the amendments and in-force dates.
Q: Are there any other databases like this in Canada, provincially or federally? How does this one differ?
A: There are other similar databases like this in Canada but you may have to pay a fee or subscribe to them in order to use them. For example, British Columbia has a service called Quickscribe. But the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library provides free access to the Bills Database for both the public and the legal profession.
I can see how this would be a handy tool for anyone doing research into Saskatchewan legislation or point-in-time searches. For a more detailed look at some tricks about using the database, check out this previous post by another of our excellent reference librarians, Ken Fox, and this helpful PowerPoint presentation!
If you find yourself in need of some help in searching this database, or for any of your research needs, our reference librarians are more than happy to assist you. Give us a call at (306) 569-8020 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.