Stages of a Bill

Before a bill can become a law, it must first go through several stages. These stages give MPPs a chance to study the bill and give their suggestions on how the bill can be improved before it becomes a law.

Introduction and First Reading

When a bill is introduced in the House, it is called First Reading. At this time, the objectives of the bill are explained and the MPPs decide whether to accept the bill for future debate. If it is accepted, it is assigned a number, printed, and scheduled for debate for Second Reading. Each member receives a copy of the bill and the debate is usually scheduled for several days later, giving MPPs time to study the bill.

Second Reading

During Second Reading, MPPs debate the principles of the bill. They are each allowed to speak only once during this time. After the debate, the MPPs vote on whether to let the bill proceed to the next step. In some cases, the bill may move directly to Third Reading, but often it is first examined by a Standing or Select Committee. The bill can be in the committee stage for a few days or up to several months. After review by the Committee, the bill is reported back to the House. It may be sent to the Committee of the Whole House or directly to final debate.

Third Reading

During Third Reading, MPPs debate the bill for the last time. Following the debate, the Speaker calls for a final vote about the proposed law.

Royal Assent

If the majority of MPPs vote to make the bill a law during Third Reading, it is presented to the Lieutenant Governor for Royal Assent. This procedure is called Royal Assent because the Lieutenant Governor is agreeing to the bill on behalf of The King. This last step officially makes the bill a law.

Discover Ontario's legislative process by playing the "How a bill becomes a law" game.

More detailed information about Ontario's legislative process (Legislative Assembly of Ontario web site)