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Research Guides

Public policy: key government resources

A guide to governmental and grey literature sources for public policy research prepared by Sam-chin Li, University of Toronto Libraries.

Major resources

Canadian Public Documents Collection (Scholars Portal E-book)  
  • 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.

Parliament of Canada

Government of Canada Publications 

Government and Legislative Libraries Online Publications Portal (GALLOP)

  • provides access to full text and/or citations to electronic legislative and government publications held in libraries of the Association of Parliamentary Libraries in Canada.
  • contains federal and provincial materials except for Prince Edward Island and Nunavut
  • Debates and bills are not included

Google Canadian Government Documents Custom Search (Carleton University)

  • searches over 775 core domains at the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government
  • formerly the Policy Research Initiative
  • conducts research in support of the Government of Canada’s medium term agenda
  • core mandate is to advance research on emerging horizontal issues, and to ensure the effective transfer of acquired knowledge to policy-makers.

Guide to Interest Groups / Think Tanks Resources (Queen's University Library)

  • provides links and search box to individual Interest Groups and Think Tanks to search for current materials

 White Papers 

  • official documents presented by Ministers of the Crown which state and explain the government's policy on certain issues
  • 1939 - 2014 (Government of Canada Web Archive)
  • 2017 (Government of Canada Publications)
Green Papers  
  • official documents sponsored by Ministers of the Crown which are issued by the government to invite public comment and discussion on an issue prior to policy formulation
  • 1971 - 2010 (Government of Canada Web Archive)
  • 2016 (Government of Canada Publications)
  • 2017

General resources

Federal Science Library (FSL)

  • one stop portal for publications, reports and data sets from 7 science-based departments and agencies
    • Canadian Agriculture Library
    • Environment and Climate Change Canada Library Services
    • Fisheries and Oceans Canada Library
    • Health Library
    • National Science Library
    • Natural Resources Canada Library

Government of Canada Web Archive 

  • Dec. 2007 - 2015 (University of Toronto Archive-IT)
    • Browse by institution or document
    • Full-text and site searches

Prime Ministers of Canada

Canadian Research Index (CRI)
  • 1982+
  • indexes Canadian government publications, federal, provincial and selected municipal. 
  • searches abstracts author, title, subject
  • Tip: search government bodies under the Company/org heading.
  • Useful as a starting point or when other searches (library catalogue, web) produce disappointing results. However titles found here must then be manually searched in the library catalogue and/or web in order to locate them. Items not found there can be located using the Microlog number (eg. 99-1234) in the Microlog (CRI) fiche set, held in the Government Publications Collection, 5th floor, Robarts. Please ask staff for assistance.

Open Information Portal:

  • a consolidation of the electronic publications provided by the Government of Canada Publications and Library and Archives Canada

Parliamentary Oversight (Inter-Parliamentary Union)

Public Policy research (Conference Board of Canada) 
  • most reports are free of charge
Canadian Public Policy (Journal)
  • Canada's foremost journal examining economic and social policy
  • aims to stimulate research and discussion of public policy problems in Canada

U of T Policy Reports (TSpace)

Google Advanced Search  
  • search within a site or domain, e.g. for Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Library and Archives Canada

Aboriginal Affairs

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Indigenous Services Canada

First Nation Profiles (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada)

Aboriginal Documentary Heritage: Historical Collections of the Canadian Government (Library and Archives Canada)

Aboriginal Heritage (Library and Archives Canada)

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (LAC)

  • Final report
  • Database: includes intervenor Project submissions, RCAP publications, research reports and hearing transcripts

Royal Commission Report on Aboriginal People (Our Legacy)

  • RCAP hearing and round table discussion transcripts online: (Our Legacy, University of Saskatchewan Archives)

1. by subject

  • select University of Saskatchewan Archives on the left of the screen
  • click on Subject
  • select the Royal commission (2548 documents)
  • click on subject again to see a list of 19 subject headings for the RCAP transcripts

2.  by name of the person interviewed

3.  by date of the interview

Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) (2008-2015)

Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Law Library)

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (University of Manitoba)


Audit reports

Audit Reports by Federal Institution 1981 + (Office of the Auditor General of Canada)  

  • audits federal government operations
  • provides Parliament with independent information, advice, and assurance regarding the federal government’s stewardship of public funds
  • comments on policy implementation are included in audits
  • 1879 - 1980 (print)

Cabinet & Privy Council

Canada Gazette

Canada Gazette : the official newspaper of the Government of Canada


                           1841- 1998

Debates and other parliamentary materials

Current Canadian Legislation  (Bora Laskin Law Library)  

  • Provides links to current debates, bills, statutes, regulations, gazette and Journal for both federal and provincial governments.

Canadian parliamentary publications (Research Guide)

  • Provides links to both print and electronic federal parliamentary materials from 1867 onwards.

Debates Online  

  • from 35th Parliament, 1st Session (Jan. 1994) +
  • Official, verbatim report of daily House proceedings. Commonly referred to as Hansard.
  • Search the Debates
  • Paper copy available from 1875+

Historical Debates of the Parliament of Canada Portal (Library of Parliament and

  • Senate: 1867 - February 27, 1996
  • House of Commons: January 17, 1994


  • from 35th Parliament, 1st Session (Jan. 1994) +
  • different versions of the bill
  • votes
  • major speeches at second reading
  • coming into force data
  • legislative summaries
  • government press releases and backgrounders

Parliamentary Business

Law & legislative history

The Legislative Process: From Policy to Proclamation (Library of Parliament Research Publications)

  • includes links and description about the Cabinet, Parliamentary and Coming into force stages.

Justice Laws Website

  • Act, Statutes and Regulations

Canada Gazette

  • Notice and proposed regulations
  • Regulatory Impact Analysis Statements (RIA)
  • Official regulations
CanLII: Canadian Legal Information Institute

Elections & political Parties

Elections Canada  

  • Includes election results, reports, legislation, political parties, political financing and more.

History of Federal Ridings since 1867

  • Includes names of candidates to all the federal elections as well as a description of the ridings.
  • Searchable by riding name, name of a candidate, political party, general election, and by-election, or even do a full text search on the description of a riding.
Political Parties (Parliament of Canada)

Electronic Manifesto Canada: contains political party platforms since 1972
  • Cumulative data: 1988 - 2011
  • Publications, working papers and surveys

Canada Research Chair in Electoral Studies (CRCES)

  • Archives the websites of Canadian national political parties and a number of special interest groups since October 2005
  • The Canadian Political Parties & Political Interest Group Portal (University of Waterloo)
    • Based on the Archive-It content collected by University of Toronto Library
    • October 2005 - March 2015
    • Basic and advanced search (including words in proximity to each other)
    • Graphing trends over time

Environment and climate change

Climate change (Government of Canada)

Climate change (Natural Resources Canada)

National Pollutant Release Inventory (Government of Canada)

Historical Climate Data (Government of Canada)

Guide to Climate Change Resources (Queen's University Library)

Canadian Institute of Resources Law (CIRL)

National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (1987 -2013)

  • select "NRTEE- National Round Table on the Environment & the Economy" from the Collection dropdown menu

Finance, grants & annual reports


Government Finance Guide

  • Includes budgets, estimates, public accounts, and annual reports

TBS InfoBase (Treasury Board of Canada):

  • online tool to visualize financial data of the government of Canada
  • Search by organization
  • Create your own report
  • Also included: Analyze Data by Subject Area, Explore Government of Canada Management data, Analyze specific sections of Government of Canada Publications such as Estimates and Public Accounts

Budget Speeches (1867+)

Budget Documents  (1968+)

Federal Transfers to Provinces and Territories (2005+)

Foreign & global affairs


Foreign Affair and International Trade Canada  

Documents on Canadian external relations 1908+

  • Full text primary source, declassified on the "thirty-years rule

Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations  

Foreign Aids

  1. Canadian International Development Agency  
      2.   Canada's Development Assistance Policies (World Bank)
      3.   Public Accounts: under the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Health policy

Canadian Public Document Collection  

Health Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada

Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)  

  • produces a range of in-depth analytical reports as well as summary reports called Analysis in Brief, both of which are derived from CIHI's extensive information holdings and data analysis activities
  • Research Analytic Files (Chass)
  • National Health Expenditure Database (1975 - current): National and provincial data, summary tables and detailed reports
Canadian Institutes of Health Research  (CIHR)

Institute for Clinical Evaluation Sciences (ICES)

PubMed Central Canada  

  • free digital archive of full-text, peer-reviewed health and life sciences literature
  • based on PubMed Central, the archive developed by the US National Library of Medicine

Ontario Public Health Libraries Association

Community Health Online Digital Archive Research Resource (CHODARR)

Grey Matters: a practical tool for searching health-related grey literature (Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health)

Building on Values: the Future of Health Care in Canada (Romanow report)

Public opinion


Government of Canada Public Opinion Research Reports  

  • Public opinion research helps the government to better understand Canadian society and to identify citizens' needs and expectations. It is used, among other applications, 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

Canadian Public Opinion Polls Collection   <odesi>

Canadian Opinion Research Archive (Queen's University)

Consulting with Canadians (2008+): provides access to a list of consultations from selected government departments and agencies

Royal commissions

Royal Commissions Research Guide

Throne speeches

Throne Speeches  

  • 1867 to present
  • The Speech from the Throne officially opens every new session of Parliament. The speech sets out the broad goals and directions of the government and its strategy to accomplish those goals.


Trade and Investment Series 2009+(Library of Parliament)


Canada Treaty Information (Dept. of Foreign Affairs & Intl. Trade)  

Canadian Treaty Series (WorldLII)  

  • From 1812 on, some are full-text


Statistics Canada  

Data Library (University of Toronto)  

  • The Data Library owns and subscribes to many surveys and data sets. Some resources may have a cost associated.

Statistics and data (Government of Canada)

  • Find statistics and data by department or agency

Open Data Portal (Government of Canada)

Scholars GeoPortal (Scholars Portal)

  • A project of the Ontario Council of University Libraries
  • Access geospatial datasets licensed by individual library
  • Contains census and administrative boundaries, environment and conservation, transportation networks and etc

University of Toronto iSchool Government Information Projects Dataverse

  • immigration statistics in the Sessional Papers 1869-1894
  • census of Canada Report Locator 1851-1951

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