Royal commissions, or commissions of inquiry, are appointed by Cabinet under the terms of the Inquiries Act in order to carry out full and impartial investigations of specific national problems. The terms of reference for the commission and the powers and the names of the commissioners are officially stated by an Order-in-Council. When the investigation is complete, the findings of the commission are reported to Cabinet and the Prime Minister for appropriate action.
Commissions are often referred to by the name of the chairperson or commissioner(s). For example, the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences is commonly known as the Massey Commission (chaired by Vincent Massey in 1949-1950).