Law reform is the process of ensuring that law meets the needs of the society it is designed to serve. The process may involve updating by repealing old and obsolete enactments, consolidating or rationalizing an area of law, or even proposing entirely new concepts. Normally this involves changes in legislation but may also extend to regulations or procedural issues.
In the mid-1960s, several provinces created permanent law reform agencies: full-time and independent of the government of the day. Ontario was soon followed by other provinces, including a unique hybrid arrangement in the Alberta Law Reform Institute and later by British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. Several provinces have law reform divisions within their Departments of Justice, including New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Québec. Canada's Federal Commission operated from 1971 to 1993. It was revived in 1996 by new legislation.
These bodies operate at arm's length from government, offering independent advice on a broad spectrum of matters. Several offer home pages on Web sites, for example, http://www.law.ualberta.ca/alri/.
There are 2 umbrella groups. The Federation of Law Reform Agencies of Canada operates as a co-ordinating body for all agencies and interested persons involved in law reform in Canada. It operates workshops for law reform staff and publishes a quarterly newsletter.
The UNIFORM LAW CONFERENCE OF CANADA is a long-standing body charged with harmonization of law in Canada. Since 1918, it has operated with delegates appointed by each province, territory and Canada. It meets formally for a week in August of each year and publishes annual proceedings.