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If you need help, please contact Moninder Lalli, Liaison Librarian for Labour Studies by email (email@example.com) or Ask a librarian.
Searching for information on Canadian labour
- Understanding a Legal Citation [video] (silent, 1 minute 18 seconds)
- Legal cases by Citation (Canada)
- Legal cases by Topic (Canada)
Start with specialized legal research tools such as Canadian Encyclopedic Digests or Canadian Abridgment Digests, both of which can be searched through the Westlaw Next Canada database. Searching primary sources directly for case law by keyword is usually not recommended since there are many unrelated hits in the search results. An exception is if your topic has unique terminology.
For legal cases or scholarly articles in legal journals, try CanLII, Law Source, Quicklaw, Westlaw Next Canada and other "legal" databases.
For non-legal scholarly articles, newspaper stories or government reports, try CBCA Complete, Canadian Newsstream, Canadian Research Index (government publications), and other social sciences databases
For scholarly books, try SFU Library's "Catalogue Search." Use the "Advanced" search engine for most flexibility. To find a specific book or a journal, try "Browse" search tab (Browse by title).
Primary legal literature
The following types of sources are considered to be "primary legal sources"
- Case law
- Judgments (decisions & reasons for decisions)
- Legislation (Acts, Statutes, Regulations)
Law and legislation
Labour in Canada is regulated by federal or provincial legislation. The jurisdiction depends on the specific business or industry.
Federally regulated businesses and industries include banks, marine shipping, air transportation, railway and road transportation, telephone, telegraph and cable systems, radio and television broadcasting, businesses dealing with many First Nation activities, private businesses necessary to the operation of a federal act, and most federal Crown corporations. For a full list, click here.
Provincial law sets out the minimum standards that apply in most workplaces in each province. For British Columbia, click here for guidelines to evaluate whether the business or industry that you are examining is covered by provincial jurisdiction.
- British Columbia Supreme Court (BCSC)
- BC Laws
- British Columbia Employment Standards Act The provincial legislation that ensures that employees in British Columbia receive at least basic standards of compensation and conditions of employment. The British Columbia Employment Standards Act and Regulation sets out minimum working conditions for all employees covered under provincial labour laws. A number of sectors or industries in British Columbia are subject to specific regulations that only apply to them. Click here to see the regulations for specific industries.
- British Columbia Labour Relations Code The provincial legislation that protects the right of employees in British Columbia to be a member of a trade union and to participate in its lawful activities. The Code further delineates the rights of employees and employers.
- Human Rights Protection "British Columbia has a law to protect and promote human rights. It is called the B.C. Human Rights Code or the Code. The Code helps to protect you from discrimination and harassment." [from the website]
- [BC] Human Rights Code
- Canada Labour Code Consolidates federal statues that relate to labour, facilitating production by controlling strikes & lockouts, occupational safety and health, and some employment standards. The Code only applies to the industries which are under federal legislation.
- Canada Labour Standards Regulation Federally consolidated regulations related to respecting hours of work, wages, annual vacations, general holidays, reassignment, maternity leave and parental leave, bereavement leave, group and individual termination of employment and severance pay, work-related illness and injury in federal works, undertakings and businesses
- Canadian Human Rights Act
- Laws of Canada - Federal legislation
Secondary legal literature
Following types of sources are considered to be "secondary" legal literature
- Articles from academic legal journals
- Case commentary
- Newsletters and digests by legal expert
- Textbooks, books
Databases for legal literature
- CANLII Largest free web resource providing access to legal documents from Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments for both legal practitioners and the general public. CANLII provides access to provincial and federal labour laws (Acts, Statutes, Regulations, decisions by Boards, Tribunals)
- The CANLII Primer - handbook on the Canadian legal systems and using CANLII for research
- Finding BC Provincial Cases on CANLII
- Westlaw Next Canada Current Canadian legal information, including cases, legislation, law reports, and journal articles.
Help guides and tutorials
- Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (C.E.D)
The C.E.D. is a legal encyclopedia in which legal topics are summarized. Important cases and/or legislation relating to each topic are included in the extensive footnotes.
Encyclopedia entries can be found on a range of Canadian legal topics, providing a broad overview of the law as it stands now. These brief and up-to-date entries are an excellent way to begin legal research on a Canadian topic. Entries can be searched or browsed through the classification system.
Cases covered are from Ontario and the four western provinces.
Canadian Abridgment Digest
The Canadian Abridgment Digest (CAD) summarizes Canadian legal cases into a short paragraph or two, allowing for quick reviews of their relevance. All abridged cases are organized by a classification system, allowing you to locate similar cases at once.
For instance, by browsing the classification tree, you can find cases organized under specific subjects such as: Criminal Law - Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Freedom of peaceful assembly.
The scope of the the Canadian Abridgment is broad and deep, with over 750,000 Canadian cases abridged, from 1803 to present. The Abridgment covers all reported Canadian cases, and includes unreported cases as well from 1986 onwards. Updated daily. The Abridgment can be searched or browsed; for further help, please refer to our guide, Using the Canadian Abridgment.
Video tutorial on using Canadian Abridgment Digests
- LawSource - also known as Index to Canadian Legal Literature - indexes Canadian legal journals. Use the "Advanced" search. Access is through Westlaw Next Canada.
- Finding a case by legislation cited
If you wish to find which cases have cited a particular section of law you are researching (for instance, sections of the Criminal Code of Canada), you can do so in WestlawNext Canada, using the KeyCite feature.
- Select "Statutes and Legislation".
- Once you have located your desired statute or regulation, click to a specific section it.
- If available, click on the green letter "C" hyperlink. This link should retrieve cases that have cited this section of the law.
KeyCite a Statutory Provision in WestlawNext Canada. (Video tutorial 2:20)
- Negotech Database of recent Canadian collective agreements.
- QuickLaw Canadian legal research sources. Contains a large collection of law journal articles. Journal collections searched can easily be limited to Canadian or US/International only.
Select "Law Journal Library" within the database to search articles from over 1,620 legal journals--US, Canadian, and international Content.
More Law databases
Databases for social sciences
If full-text of article is not within the database, click on the "Get@SFU" to start a search for it. If the Library does not provide access. Use the Citation Finder/ILL tab to request a book or a journal article through Inter-Library Loans (ILL) Service (free)
How to find journal articles Library guide
- Academic Search Premier - scholarly journals and magazines from a broad range of disciplines. Limit your search to "scholarly" articles.
America: History and Life - covers Canadian & United States history topics.
- Business Source Complete - covers business topics, including labour, human relations (HR), management and trade unions.
- Canadian Electronic Library Contains the full text of public policy documents from Canadian institutes, think-tanks and research groups.
Canadian Newsstream - full text of over 350 Canadian newspapers from Canada's leading publishers. Newspaper articles may identify key cases on a particular topic and discusses the case in plain language. Databases such as Canadian Newsstream index thousands of newspaper articles from many Canadian newspapers. Try a search for your topic keywords combined with the keyword "judgment". (Note: There is no "e" in judgment when referring to legal judgments).
- Canadian Research Index Canadian government publications. All documents found in the database are available in the Microlog microfiche collection (JL 044 37) on the Sixth Floor of the Bennett Library. Individual reports are filed by the MICROLOG NUMBER. Also try searching for the report using a web browser such as Google, Firefox, etc.
- CBCA Complete Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA) - index to scholarly journal articles, trade publications, dissertations, books, newspapers and magazines. For government & public policy.
- Political Science Complete - full text for over 480 journals. Useful for government & public policy types of articles
- Social Sciences Full Text indexes social science journals. Useful for government & public policy types of articles
- Sociological Abstracts indexes social science journals. Useful for government & public policy types of articles
- Canadian labour & employment law
- Canadian labour law journal
- Labor and Employment Law
- Labor Studies Journal
- Work, Employment & Society
How to use the Library Catalogue [guide]
Do a Library Catalogue search to see if the Library owns or provides access to the sources that you've identified.
For known items it is best to check using "Browse by title" icon.
Search by topic, using Basic or Advanced Search
Note: In the searches below, you can limited results to "Online Resources only" and "Resource type" of "Books" and "Subjects"
Sign in (SFU Computing ID / Password) for access to electronic resources, to request items through Inter-Library Loans, to request a book from a branch, etc.
Topic: Organization of trade unions in Canada
(labour OR trade) AND union* AND organiz* AND Canad*
Note: For Catalogue Search, when combining concepts, use CAPITAL letters ( "OR", "AND")
Combine different concepts using AND
Combine same concepts using OR
Use quotation marks to search for a phrase
Use brackets for synonyms
Use asterisk (*) for different endings of words
Use pull-down menu and select, "Source Types" as "Books"
Catalogue Search / Browse then change "Title" to "Subject" and enter your subject term
For undergraduate students, the Student Learning Commons provides assistance and numerous, helpful guides.
- Academic writing resources
- Library Catalogue search: Academic writing
- Book a consultation
- Library Catalogue search guide
- How to find journal articles
- Finding articles: Advanced search techniques [video]
- Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism - An interactive tutorial produced by SFU Library explaining what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it in your writing
- More tutorials: Tutorials