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Canadian government publications

Public Policy

Finding information on government policy:

  • Search on "[topic] policy" in the Canadian Research Index or in a Google custom search for Canadian government documents. Note: works best when the government has made a clear statement on policy
  • Leave out the word "policy" in the search to retrieve a range of documents from which to intuit the government's policy

For the fullest information on government policy, it is often necessary to search across the full range of government publications.

  • The Debates cover arguments for and against policies
  • Statutes codify policies
  • The Budget sets out fiscal policy
  • The Public Accounts track the money spent to realize the policies
  • Annual reports (of departments, of programs, on acts) track implementation of policies
  • Statistics measure the impact of policies
  • News releases announce new directions in policy

Print & online sources

1. Canadian Public Policy Collection (Scholars Portal Ebrary)  
  • Full text
  • University of Toronto only
  • Includes publications from Canadian public policy institutes, government agencies, advocacy groups, think-tanks, university research centres and other public interest groups
  • To access: select "Canadian Public Policy Collection" from the "Select Collection" drop down menu


2. White papers, 1939+
  • Online chronological and searchable list compiled by the Library of Parliament


  • White papers are "official documents presented by Ministers of the Crown which state and explain the government's policy on certain issues"
3. Green papers, 1971+
  • Online chronological and searchable list compiled by the Library of Parliament


  • A green paper is "an official document sponsored by Ministers of the Crown which is issued by government to invite public comment and discussion on an issue prior to policy formulation"
4. Library of Parliament research publications
  • Provides background and analysis of issues of interest to Canadian parliamentarians, from aboriginal issues to transport


  • Includes legislative summaries


  • Some provide select reading lists


  • Earlier (pre-2004) publications are online
5. Policy Horizons Canada
  • "Policy Horizons Canada (formerly the Policy Research Initiative) is a dynamic organization within the federal government that has been continually evolving to better meet the needs of the Government of Canada"
6. Government of Canada Public Opinion Research Reports (Archives of Canada)
  • "Public opinion research is the planned gathering, by or for a government institution, for any government purpose, of: opinions; attitudes; perceptions; judgements; feelings; ideas; reactions or; views


  • Aims to help the government better understand Canadian society and to identify citizens' needs and expectations


  • Used to:"assess the public's response to proposals or to possible changes or initiatives, assess the effectiveness of policies, programs and services measure progress in service improvement evaluate the effectiveness of communication activities such as advertising plan and evaluate marketing initiatives"

Related guide

Public Policy: Key Government Resources
by Sam-chin Li - last updated on Dec 19, 2011