Canadian law basics every newcomer should know

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All of us need to know the laws in Canada. These laws are made to keep us safe and happy. If you know these laws, you will have a good life in Canada.

Canada’s legal system

The rules in Canada were created by the English and French people who moved there. Today, many rules come from English common law. Common law is not written down. It is a system of rules that comes from decisions made in past that were similar. There is another type of rule, called civil law. Civil law has written rules called civil codes. People who use this system look at the codes first. Then they look at past situations to see if they are the same. In Canada, only Quebec uses a civil code.

Common law and civil law are not the only laws. There are also laws made with Indigenous people. These are about how to use land and rights from treaties. The main law of Canada, the Constitution, recognizes the rights of Indigenous people and treaties.

Everyone follows the rule of law. This means that everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, must follow the same rules. Everyone is equally protected by these rules.

Besides English common law, the system in Canada is based on its Constitution. This includes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This Charter promises basic rights and freedoms to all people in Canada. These include the freedom to speak, the freedom of religion, and the right to a fair trial.

Importance of knowing Canadian laws

Knowing the rules in Canada is very important. This is even more important if you are new to the country. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Becoming a full member of society – Learning about the rules is a big part of becoming a full member of the society. This makes you feel like you are a part of the community. It also keeps you safe because you know what is right and what is wrong.
  2. Rights and responsibilities – Knowing what you can do and what you can’t do under the law makes sure that you can enjoy the good things of being part of the society. Following the rules helps you make good choices.
  3. Avoiding legal problems – Not knowing the law is not a good excuse. Knowing the laws in Canada helps you avoid doing things that are not right.

Canadian laws and legal principles you should know

  1. Immigration and citizenship

    Canada has rules about who can stay here. You need to know what kind of visa you need to stay. You also need to know what you can do with the kind of visa you have.

  2. Learn more here: Immigration and citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

  3. Human rights

    Canada believes in fairness and treating everyone the same. It’s against the law to treat others badly because of their race, religion, gender, who they like, and other things. If someone is not fair to you, you can take them to court.

  4. Learn more here: Manitoba Human Rights Commission, Human Rights in Canada

  5. Education

    In Canada, kids can go to school for free. It’s important to understand how schools work. It’s important to get your kids into school. Helping them learn is a big part of living in Canada.

  6. Learn more here: Learn about education in Canada

  7. Work rules

    There are laws to keep people safe at work. These cover things like the amount of money you can be paid, how many hours you can work, and being safe at work. It’s important to know what you can and can’t do at work. This makes sure you are treated right.

  8. Learn more here: Rights in the Workplace, Manitoba Employment Standards

  9. Driving Laws

    If you want to drive in Canada, you need to follow the country’s road rules. You also need to get the right papers or licenses. Manitoba has its own laws. This keeps things working well and safely on the road.

  10. Learn more here: Driving in Manitoba, Driver’s Handbook

  11. Criminal Laws

    Knowing the law helps you avoid doing anything wrong. You also need to know what happens if you break the law.

  12. Learn more here: Canada’s System of Justice, Criminal Justice

  13. Taxes

    Canada has a system for collecting taxes from people. This money pays for public services like healthcare and schools. It’s important to know how much and how to pay taxes.

  14. Learn more here: Personal income taxes

Learning about Canadian laws is a good thing to do. It helps you be part of Canadian society. It makes sure that your rights and duties are respected. It helps you live a safe and happy life in this friendly country.
 
Sources: Fundamentals of Canadian Law; and Canada’s System of Justice, Department of Justice, Canada. Accessed September 14, 2023.

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