Private Bills are a special type of legislation that differ from public Bills by their intent, content and method of passage.
Public Bills propose to regulate matters of a much wider or general nature than private Bills. For example, a public Bill might attempt to regulate an entire industry, impose a new tax, amend existing legislation or affect the administration of justice.
A public Bill, if enacted, applies throughout the province and to all persons or classes of persons. A private Bill, on the other hand, applies only to specific individuals or entities within society rather than to the population as a whole,
and is used in very specific circumstances. As with any other Bill introduced in the Legislative Assembly, once enacted, a private Bill is a law that is enforceable like any other law.
Accommodate extraordinary situations
Private Bills may be enacted to provide a right or benefit when no equitable remedy can be found within existing law, but they cannot be used to create an inequitable personal benefit or perceived competitive advantage for a specific group or individual.
Provide limited exemption from public legislation
In very limited circumstances private Bills may be enacted to exempt an individual or group from a public law deemed inequitable or that would result in a miscarriage of justice in a particular situation, but they must avoid creating inequity or unfairness
with other individuals or groups.
If you want to propose changes to public legislation of general application, information about how to petition the Legislative Assembly can be found here.
“Today private legislation accounts for only a minuscule percentage of House business. Most private Bills now deal with the incorporation of or amendments to the Acts of incorporation of religious, charitable and other organizations . . .”
Applying for a Private Bill
The reasons must be extraordinary for the Legislative Assembly to pass a private Bill. It is the Legislative Assembly’s first priority to consider public policy issues in the context of making laws that apply to everyone equally. Before applying for a private Bill petitioners are encouraged to consider a number of factors.
The information on this page has been prepared as a general description of the process for applying for a private Bill and does not constitute legal advice. Carefully review the Standing Orders of
the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Petitioners are responsible for ensuring their application for a private Bill complies with all applicable rules and conventions, and may wish to consult a lawyer for legal advice.
The deadline for submitting Private Bills Applications to the Legislative Assembly is November 14, 2023.
THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING PRIVATE BILLS APPLICATIONS TO THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY IS March 15, 2023.
Navigating the Private Bills Process
The Standing Committee on Private Bills receives applications for private Bills through the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, on behalf of the Clerk. The Office of Parliamentary Counsel is responsible for providing
legal advice and support to the Committee and Members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. The procedure for applying for a private Bill is primarily set out in Chapter 8 of the Standing Orders, which are the written rules and protocols of the
Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Other parliamentary rules and conventions also apply.
Private Bill Petition Samples
Please note that these are courtesy samples only. Petitioners are responsible for ensuring that the documents they submit include all information required under the Standing Orders.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Although both types of Bills are sponsored by a private Member, a private Member’s Bill is a type of public Bill.
Public Bills that are introduced by Cabinet Ministers are referred to as “Government Bills.” Public Bills introduced by Members of the Legislative Assembly who are not Cabinet Ministers are called “Private Members’ Public Bills”
(or “Private Members’ Bills”).
While it is unusual to make changes to the text of a Bill after it is submitted, changes are sometimes necessary when unforeseen circumstances arise. In the event of a change the Office of Parliamentary Counsel should be notified immediately so that they can advise on the necessary steps to be taken to implement the change.
Yes. The Legislative Assembly may refuse to pass a private Bill that would grant an exemption to a petitioner from the operation of public law even if the operation of that law might be seen by some to create an injustice. Some reasons why the Legislative Assembly might refuse to grant an exemption are if it would result in inequity with other Albertans or if the overall ramifications of such legislation would create serious public policy difficulties by leading to overwhelming requests for similar extraordinary remedies.
In some instances petitioners must be 18 years of age or older. In the case of a Bill for the incorporation of a company the persons named in the Bill must be 18 years or older, consent to become incorporated and be capable of effecting the objects of the corporation.