Returning Officer's Manual
Chapter 6 – Financial Management
The financial management of the returning office and its various staff is the direct responsibility of the returning officer, as delegated by the Chief Electoral Officer in accordance with the Canada Elections Act.
- 6.1 Financial Management for the Returning Officer and Assistant Returning Officer
- 6.2 Payment Process for Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers
- 6.3 Budgets
- 6.4 Sales Tax
- 6.5 EC Acquisition Cards
- 6.6 Accountable Advances
- 6.7 Travel Expenses and Fees
- 6.8 Delegating Financial Authorities
- 6.9 Tools and References
6.1 Financial Management for the Returning Officer and Assistant Returning Officer
As returning officer (RO), you are accountable for the financial management of authorities delegated to you by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) through the Canada Elections Act. Assistant returning officers (AROs) are accountable for authorities that you delegate to them. ROs are accountable for sound financial management across the spectrum of their operations and for proper records management. This includes, but is not limited to, the retention and safeguarding of workers' personal information during an event and between events for a period of seven years, unless otherwise instructed by Elections Canada (EC) during a record disposition exercise.
In particular, you are responsible for complying with the legislation, regulations, policies and CEO instructions concerning
- pay and source deductions
- management and reconciliation of expenses such as accountable advances and acquisition cards.
- candidates' deposits
- candidates' returns for election expenses
For more information, see 9.6, Candidates' Electoral Campaign Returns.
6.1.1 Financial Process Management
You are responsible for managing the following financial processes:
- registration and pay of all office staff, revision officials and poll officials
- payment and reconciliation of all expenses related to the operation of your office and of the office of the additional assistant returning officer (AARO), such as office supplies, meeting rooms and printing expenses
- rental of your office, the AARO's office, polling sites and revisal offices
- submission of candidates' deposits to EC Field Finance
- provision to confirmed candidates of Multimedia Kit for Federal Political Entities (K.00003-C), which contains financial software and other documents for use and reference by the official agent when fulfilling their filing requirements under the political financing provision of the Canada Elections Act.
Note: Please refer to the Financial Officer's Manual for additional information on the registration and payment of electoral workers.
A request for a Receipt for a Contribution to a Candidate at an Election (EC 20060) can be made to EC directly by a confirmed candidate or their official agent by phone at 1-800-486-6563 or by email at ROFP-ORPF@elections.ca.
6.1.2 Verification and Certification of Financial Documentation
You are responsible for verifying and certifying that all expenses are necessary, complete, correct and in accordance with the contractual arrangements.
All requested payments must be
- documented for financial accuracy and completeness
- verified and then signed (certified) by the RO
- submitted to EC with supporting documents within the required time frame for each process
6.2 Payment Process for Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers
6.2.1 Payroll Registration
All ROs and AROs must be registered on the EC payroll system by completing Payroll Registration (EC 11810) and submitting it to Field Finance at EC. You are registered during the initial training session and the ARO is registered during a pre-event project or when attending an EC training session. Payment is made by direct deposit.
Direct Deposit Payment
The Government of Canada is phasing out cheque payments. We strongly encourage you to register for direct deposit into your bank account by attaching a void cheque to Payroll Registration (EC 11810). If you prefer, ask your bank for a printout of the banking information requested and submit this document instead.
Statements with details of hours worked, rate of pay and deductions are mailed to the RO's and ARO's home addresses.
6.2.2 Source Deductions
Source deductions include federal and provincial income tax deductions, Employment Insurance (EI) premiums, and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) deductions. For ROs and AROs working in Québec, source deductions include the Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) premiums and Québec Pension Plan (QPP/RRQ) deductions. These amounts are deducted from the RO's and ARO's pay, unless they are exempt.
Federal and Provincial Income Tax Deductions
The federal/provincial tax category is automatically set to "basic." If you are entitled to additional federal or provincial tax credits, apply for a change by completing the following form(s), available on the respective organization's website or from Field Finance:
- Canada Revenue Agency Personal Tax Credits Return (TD1)
- for residents outside of Quebec: complete the province of residence provincial tax credit return
- for residents of Quebec: complete the Ministère du Revenu Source Deductions (TP-1015.3)
Note: Due to the nature of our irregular payroll schedule, requests to withhold additional income tax deductions cannot be accommodated.
If the annual sole source of revenue is earned during an election period, complete Acknowledgement in Respect of Taxation (EC 11811). By completing this form, income tax deductions are calculated over a period of 52 weeks instead of the seven weeks of the election period, which lowers the income tax deductions. You may get the form from Field Finance at EC.
Canada Pension Plan Deductions
CPP deductions are mandatory for all amounts earned by staff members between 18 and 70 years of age, including those under the age of 65 who receive CPP benefits. CPP recipients between the ages of 65 and 70 can elect to no longer contribute to CPP using form CPT30, available from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Staff members must submit this form to CRA. A copy of the RO and/or ARO CPT30 form must also be sent to Field Finance for activation and record-keeping. Staff members who have multiple employers will need to complete this form for each employer. The exemption will not take effect until the month after they have submitted the form.
Québec Pension Plan Deductions
QPP deductions are mandatory for all workers in Quebec. There are no exemptions.
EI premiums are paid by all staff members regardless of age. ROs and AROs do not qualify for the election worker exemption, since they work more than 35 hours.
Québec Parental Insurance Plan
QPIP premiums are paid by all individuals employed in Québec. There are no exemptions. However, individuals who pay QPIP premiums pay a reduced EI rate.
T4, Relevé 1 and Record of Employment
T4 slips are issued by EC and are mailed to home addresses by the end of February each year.
Relevé 1s are issued by EC to ROs and AROs working in Quebec and are mailed to home addresses by the end of February each year.
A Record of Employment is issued by EC to AROs and ROs upon request and is mailed to home address.
T2200 Declaration of Conditions of Employment
EC issues a Declaration of Conditions of Employment to ROs upon request to deduct employment expenses from their income. This declaration is mailed to their home address.
6.2.3 Payment Procedure
Between Electoral Events
The CEO may ask the RO and the ARO to work between electoral events on projects directly related to their electoral district (ED) or to attend training sessions that EC sponsors.
ROs and AROs are required to complete and submit Special Account Form (EC 11670) to claim payment for hours worked and Travel Expense Claim and Time Sheet (EC 09680) for travel time and hours worked while travelling.
Payments are made within four to six weeks after all applicable documents and receipts have been submitted to EC, and in accordance with the tariff of fees in force at the time services were provided.
During an Electoral Event
ROs and AROs are paid directly by EC during an electoral event, in keeping with the fixed rate set in the tariff of fees. ROs and AROs do not need to complete a time sheet or expense form.
During a 36-day electoral calendar, ROs and AROs are paid bi-weekly, following each pay period ending on Days 23, 9, -5 and -19 of the electoral calendar. Direct deposits are made on the Friday following the end of the pay period. Cheques are usually received within five days following the end of the pay period. Salaries are divided into four payments: three cover a two-week period each and one covers a one-week period. Amounts for each pay period are pro-rated using the predetermined amounts in the tariff of fees for each position.
Note: ROs' and AROs' event payments are not processed using the Returning Office Payment System and SITES (ROPS/SITES) application.
After an Electoral Event
The RO is entitled to additional fees for being available to candidates and the public concerning the Candidate's Return Respecting Election Expenses and for performing other services at the CEO's request, such as cleaning up election accounts. For more information, refer to the Federal Elections Fees Tariff for the amount payable to each RO, and to 9.6, Candidates' Electoral Campaign Returns.
Note: Please refer to the "Your Pay" pamphlet (EC 11800) – a quick reference guide for Office Staff and Poll Officials on pay related information.
6.3.1 Preliminary Budgets
A preliminary budget for the ED is usually prepared at EC and sent before an electoral event. Each ED receives a customized budget that is based on specific data of the ED, such as number of electors and polling stations, population and number of AARO offices. Fees and allowances are in keeping with the tariff of fees or other CEO-approved fees.
6.3.2 Hourly Paid Positions
For positions paid on an hourly basis, budgeted hours are based either on the projected workload for the ED (e.g. revising agents for targeted revision) or on a predetermined standard amount (e.g. office clerk).
6.3.3 Poll Officials
For advance poll and election day positions, budgets are determined according to the number of polling stations in the ED. If the number of polling divisions (i.e., split polls) is modified and approved during the event, it is not necessary to request funding for the additional poll officials.
6.3.4 Travel Expenses
When you or any other election officer, clerk or staff member must travel to perform your duties, you as RO must request authorization from the Electoral Coordination Help Desk before proceeding with the travel when you have exceeded your office travel budget.
The request should be submitted for preapproval using Travel Plan (EC 10033) and must specify the itinerary, expenses and rationale for the travel.
Note: Please refer to the Tariff of Fees for the list of positions eligible to travel expenses.
6.3.5 Official Budget
When an election is called, EC may send a final approved budget for the ED, if changes have occurred from the preliminary budget. All necessary updates to the budget since the preparation of the preliminary budget will be contained in the official budget. If no changes were required, the preliminary budget becomes the official budget and a note is sent to inform ROs. You are accountable to manage the official budget provided, using public funds based on sound judgment and in keeping with applicable laws, regulations, policies and EC instructions.
Note: The ROPS/SITES application will contain the budget of hours for positions paid on an hourly basis in the RO office. This will assist the RO and the Financial Officer (FO) to track in real-time these budgets. Refer to the ROPS/SITES User's Manual.
For all other items, the RO and the FO are responsible to monitor the budget by other means. For instance, the Excel worksheet containing the Official Budget can be used for such a purpose. Refer to 7.4, Financial Activities for more information.
6.3.6 Transfer of Unused Hours between Positions Paid on an Hourly Basis
Consult the official budget for further information on certain circumstances where transfers are permitted.
During the election, you may need to transfer budget amounts between positions paid on an hourly basis. For example, you may anticipate that the funds allocated for position A will be surplus, while position B will not have sufficient funds to cover the hours required to complete the election.
Instructions on how to transfer funds are available in the Financial Officer's Manual.
Before transferring unused funds, ROs must
- ensure that the projected surplus of funds is not required to complete the election
- review the budgeted hours for both positions to ensure that the transfer is reasonable
- proceed with the transfer of hours in ROPS/SITES.
6.3.7 Request for Additional Funds
During an event, for operational reasons, you may request additional funds when a transfer between positions is not an option. You are expected to review your budget status before requesting additional funds.
Forms required for additional budget requests are located on the RO intranet, under the Forms tab.
Note: Each request for additional funds must be submitted separately. In other words, only one request is allowed per form.
Once you have completed the request for additional budget, you must sign it and send it by email. Before the general election, you will receive more information about the process for transmitting the forms.
A proper justification that provides sufficient details backed up by facts is crucial to expediting the approval process. When required, be sure to include any supporting quotes or additional financial reports with your request.
Upon approval, you will receive an email authorization. This email notification will provide you with the Control of Authorization (COA) approval number.
6.3.8 Budget Variance Report
After all payments have been issued and the reconciliation of all accounts of the election is complete for all ROs, a budget variance report for each ED is prepared. This report shows
- the official budget
- the requests for additional funds authorized during the electoral event, including those processed through the Control of Authorization (COA) system and those authorized by the CEO
- the actual expenses incurred
- the resulting budget variance
Note: The budget variance report is one of the tools used to evaluate the RO's financial performance.
6.4 Sales Tax
You, as an extension of EC, must pay the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on all purchases and rentals. A number of provinces do not have a fully harmonized sales tax; instead, they charge GST and PST separately. Refer to Sales and Consumption Tax Certificate (EC 11650) for the list of provinces in which EC is exempt from paying PST.
6.4.1 Federal Goods and Services Tax
EC pays GST on purchases of goods and services. The supplier's GST registration number must be on the invoice. If a supplier does not have a GST number, do not pay GST.
6.4.2 Harmonized Sales Tax
EC pays HST on purchases for goods and services. The supplier's HST registration number must appear on each invoice. If a supplier does not have an HST number, do not pay HST.
6.4.3 Provincial and Territorial Sales Tax
In provinces and territories where the Provincial and Territorial Sales Tax (PST) is charged at a point of sale and is not combined into the HST and for which a tax exemption agreement is in place, EC is exempt from paying PST. For proof of tax exemption, provide the supplier with Sales and Consumption Taxes Exemption Certificate (EC 11650).
Note: Since tax exemptions change over time, please ensure that you are working with the most recent version of the exemption certificate.
When purchasing low-dollar-value items such as stamps, smaller suppliers such as convenience stores may not accept the Elections Canada Sales and Consumption Taxes Exemption Certificate. In such cases, pay the supplier the PST at the point of sale and ensure that the tax is properly reflected on the original receipt and on the appropriate reconciliation form.
6.5 EC Acquisition Cards
EC will provide you with an EC acquisition card for the purchase and rental of goods and services required between and during electoral events. EC prefers that you use the acquisition card for the majority of purchases and rentals, as it gives you faster access to goods and services and provides EC with a simple verification process. All transactions must be recorded on Acquisition Card Register (EC 11715). When you receive the monthly statement from the acquisition card company, which is sent to your home address, you must reconcile Acquisition Card Register and the monthly statement. After the reconciliation process is complete, you must submit the documentation to EC. Use EC Acquisition Card Administrative Checklist to reconcile the Acquisition Card Register and the monthly statement.
EC may withhold future payments to ROs and AROs until account reconciliations have been received, assessed and processed.
You are the only cardholder of an acquisition card between electoral events. At your request, EC may provide the ARO with an acquisition card during an electoral event only. Purchases may be made in person, by telephone or by fax.
We recommend that you set up an account with local merchants to pay for office supplies, etc.
The following restrictions apply to the EC acquisition card:
- Only the cardholder may use the card and sign the payment slips.
- An original payment slip, a receipt or proof of payment must be attached to each purchase or payment.
- The card must only be used for permitted purchases.
- The card must not be used for personal purchases.
- The card must not be used to pay for office or polling site leases.
- The card must not be used to rent, operate or maintain a vehicle.
- The card must not be used for travel or accommodation expenses.
- The card must not be used to stockpile supplies that will result in ongoing storage costs.
- The card must not be used to prepay for mid-term and long-term services that may expose EC to losses resulting from supplier foreclosures or price reductions from volatile markets.
Refer to the Elections Canada Acquisition Card Policy for more details. Contact Field Finance for any questions about the policy.
6.6 Accountable Advances
Accountable advances are often referred to as "petty cash."
EC provides you with an automatic accountable advance for management of small expenses to run their office. Also, upon your written endorsement, a smaller amount is provided to the AARO.
All transactions must be recorded on Record of Reimbursable Expenses from Petty Cash (EC 11710) to reconcile all transactions paid using the petty cash. After the reconciliation process is complete, you must submit the documentation to EC.
EC may withhold future payments to ROs and AAROs until account reconciliations have been received, assessed and processed.
The following restrictions apply to the use of accountable advances:
- must never be used by unauthorized users
- must never be used to pay election workers
- must never be used to pay for food or beverages
- must never be used to purchase personal items
- every purchase and reimbursement must be accompanied by a receipt
6.7 Travel Expenses and Fees
ROs, AROs and certain other election officers, clerks and staff are entitled to be reimbursed for travel expenses, including incidental and living expenses such as meals, taxis and hotels while on travel status.
Travel expenses and fees must be pre-authorized by RO Logistics at EC. To initiate a request to travel, you (on behalf of the traveler) must complete the appropriate form, located on the RO Intranet under the Forms tab, and submit it electronically. After the travel period is over, the claimant must submit a completed Travel Expense Claim and Time Sheet (EC 09680), along with all receipts, to RO Logistics for verification, approval and onward transmittal to Field Finance to proceed with reimbursement.
All workers who are authorized to travel in accordance with the Federal Elections Fees Tariff must complete the kilometer log and submit the completed form with supporting documents for RO signature.
More information about event travel guidelines will be provided before the general election.
To request reimbursement of authorized expenses incurred while travelling, the claimant must
- complete and sign Travel Expense Claim and Time Sheet (EC 09680) and attach the original receipts
- copy all receipts and forms to keep on file
- submit all original documents and receipts to Electoral Coordination Help Desk as soon as possible after the travel takes place
For reimbursement of pre-approved kilometer expenses for travel by private automobile, refer to Rates for Travel and Living Expenses (EC 09600) and include a Google map from point A to point B to support your claim.
6.8 Delegating Financial Authorities
You may, with the CEO's prior approval, delegate certain financial authorities to the ARO. You should be cautious about delegating financial authorities. AROs to whom authorities are delegated are legally responsible for what they sign and must be fully informed of the responsibilities of having financial signing authority.
Note: You cannot delegate to anyone the acceptance, receipt and forwarding of candidates whose nomination you have not accepted.
6.8.1 Specimen Signature Card
Specimen Signature Card (EC 11761) is provided to you during the initial onboarding process at EC. You must complete it when you, with the prior approval of the CEO, intend to delegate financial authorities to an ARO.
EC uses Specimen Signature Card (EC 11761) to verify that an authorization signature is genuine.
If you choose to delegate financial authorities, Specimen Signature Card (EC 11761) must be completed as follows:
- The RO completes the form.
- The ARO delegated to such authorities and the RO both sign the card.
- The original signed card must be returned to Field Finance at EC.
Note: The Specimen Signature Cards are updated following a redistribution exercise, a vacancy and new hire. The CEO reserves the right to revoke a delegation at its discretion, for example, for non-performance.
6.9 Tools and References
6.9.1 Financial Tools and References
Financial tools consist of computers, the ROPS/SITES application that simplifies the payment processes and creates more transparency for audit purposes; the ROPS/SITES user guide; a procedures manual for the financial officer, along with various acts, regulations, standards, directives and policies; forms; checklists; aide-mémoires; tariff of fees; and other reference documentation.
- ROPS/SITES – the Returning Office Payment System and SITES application (ROPS/ SITES) facilitates registration of and payment to all election officers, clerks and staff, and landlords. It also facilitates the management of the electoral facilities database for the ED.
- ROPS/SITES User Guide – provides step-by-step procedures for entering or updating information on all election officers, clerks and staff, and landlords, transmitting payment data and producing reports to assist the RO in managing the electoral event.
- Financial Officer's Manual – provides detailed instructions for the financial officer on all financial processes in the RO office. The RO and financial officer should thoroughly review this manual before the start of an electoral event.
- Forms – includes forms needed to process the information, reimbursements and office expenditures of all election officers, clerks and staff. Forms, which are available on the RO intranet under ECDocs, can be completed manually or electronically. They are also available in the reporting function of the ROPS/SITES application.
- Checklists – assist the RO and the financial officer in managing the various financial processes. Checklists are available in the present manual and in the Financial Officer's Manual.
- Aide-Mémoire of Financial Activities – provides the financial officer with a list of everyday tasks, reminders and key dates on the electoral calendar.
- Elections Canada Acquisition Card Policy – provides ROs and AROs with guidelines on how to procure and pay for goods and services using the EC acquisition card.
- Tariff of fees – the authoritative source for fees, rates and allowances paid to returning officers and other persons employed at or in relation to elections. The Governor General in Council makes the Federal Elections Fees Tariff based on the recommendation of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and of the CEO, pursuant to section 542 and subsection 544(1) of the Canada Elections Act.