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2013–14 Departmental Performance Report

Section I: Organizational Expenditure Overview

Organizational Profile

Designated Minister: Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Institutional Head: Marc Mayrand, Chief Electoral Officer of Canada

Enabling Instruments: 

Year of Incorporation/Commencement: 1920

Organizational Context

The mandate and responsibilities described in this section do not take into account amendments pursuant to Bill C-23, which received royal assent on June 19, 2014, after the reporting period.

Raison d'être

The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, commonly known as Elections Canada, is an independent, non-partisan agency that reports directly to Parliament. Its mandate is to:

Responsibilities

In fulfilling its mandate, Elections Canada appoints, trains and supports returning officers and retains the services of 30 field liaison officers across Canada. It also maintains the National Register of Electors, which is used to prepare preliminary lists of electors at the start of electoral events, as well as electoral geography information, which provides the basis for maps and other geographic products used during electoral events.

The agency also:

In addition, the Chief Electoral Officer appoints the Commissioner of Canada Elections. The role of the Commissioner is to protect the integrity of the electoral process by ensuring that the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act are complied with and enforced. The Commissioner carries out his or her duties independently of any political or government interference and is assisted by investigators, lawyers and administrative personnel. In carrying out the Office's mandate, the Commissioner is guided by the principles of independence, impartiality, fairness and good faith.

The Chief Electoral Officer also appoints the Broadcasting Arbitrator. The Broadcasting Arbitrator is responsible for allocating free and paid broadcasting time among political parties and for arbitrating disputes that may arise between parties and broadcasters.

New Legislation and Judicial Decisions

Strategic Outcome and Program Alignment Architecture

Elections Canada has a single strategic outcome, supported by the following Program Alignment Architecture (PAA):

1. Strategic Outcome: An Accessible Electoral Framework that Canadians Trust and Use

Internal Services


Organizational Priorities

Priority 1 Type Programs
Enable the electoral boundaries readjustment process and implement new electoral boundaries Previously committed to Electoral Operations

Internal Services
Summary of Progress
Elections Canada continued to enable the electoral boundaries readjustment process by providing the 10 independent commissions with professional, financial and administrative support services. The representation order describing and naming Canada's new 338 electoral districts was proclaimed in October 2013. As a result, Canada's new electoral map reflects demographic changes in Canada over the last decade.

Elections Canada completed the readjustment process under budget and was ready to implement the new boundaries within seven months after the proclamation of the representation order, as prescribed by the legislation. The agency was able to recruit and appoint all new returning officers in 2013–14. As well, by March 31, 2014, 58% of all electoral district associations were pre-registered.


Priority 2 Type Programs
Maintain trust and improve compliance Previously committed to Electoral Operations

Regulation of Electoral Activities

Electoral Engagement

Internal Services
Summary of Progress
Following the spring 2013 compliance reviewFootnote 6 of registration and voting procedures on election day, Elections Canada continued to develop administrative improvements for the 2015 general election that specifically target the gaps identified. This strategy has several components:
  • Introduced in 2012, online voter registration is to become the main and most convenient channel for voters to update their elector records between and during elections. To this end, Elections Canada invested in the redesign of its local office voters lists management software and database. By the end of 2013–14, this transformation was on track, with a new system to be in production by March 2015. In addition to improving services to electors, it is expected that the improved accuracy of the lists on election day will make for more compliant operations at polling sites.
  • Elections Canada invested in a new election officer recruitment and training program that will allow returning officers to better screen applicants and provide poll workers with online tutorials so that they become familiar with their duties ahead of their in-class training. By the end of 2013–14, Elections Canada had planned a pilot of the new training approach to be tested in two by-elections in June 2014.
  • The agency invested in a new voting services model that would standardize and automate business functions at polling stations. By the end of 2013–14, it was preparing to engage members of Parliament to obtain their approval to pilot the new service model in selected electoral districts during the 2015 general election. This initiative was postponed as a result of Bill C-23, but Elections Canada continued to make improvements to the current voting services model, under existing authorities, with a view to reducing the administrative burden placed on election officers and voters alike.
  • In December 2013, Elections Canada established an electoral integrity unit, which was mandated to develop and implement a quality assurance and compliance strategy for the 2015 general election.
In October 2013, the Commissioner of Canada Elections published his first annual reportFootnote 7 to help Canadians better understand his mandate. The report provides information on what his office does, the type of complaints it receives and the tools it has to carry out its work. The report also identified some significant challenges encountered during investigations and ways they could be addressed through legislative changes to the Act.


Priority 3 Type Programs
Improve services and engage youth Previously committed to Electoral Operations

Regulation of Electoral Activities

Electoral Engagement

Internal Services
Summary of Progress
Elections Canada progressed on its three-year plan to improve services to electors through various initiatives. These included:
  • a modernized voter registration system to enable new online registration services
  • a renewed public enquiries service
  • a renewed Electoral Reminder Program
  • improved accessibility for electors with disabilities
  • expanded locations for voting by special ballot
With the introduction of Bill C-23, the agency realigned some of it priorities in winter 2014. As a result, the agency cancelled its plans to allow all electors to use their VIC as proof of address for the 2015 general election.

Elections Canada also progressed on its plans to engage youth through various initiatives, including:
  • promoting civic education tools and resources among teachers and youth organizations
  • attending and organizing education events, such as Canada's Democracy Week
  • sharing research on youth civic engagement through presentations and discussions with youth organizations and an increased digital presence

Risk Analysis

Key Risks
Risk Risk Response Strategy Link to Program Alignment Architecture
Any legislative improvements need to be enacted by spring 2014 to give Elections Canada enough time to fully integrate them in time for the 2015 general election. Bill C-23 was introduced on February 4 and received royal assent on June 19, 2014. As such, the risk did not materialize.

However, a new risk emerged because of the scope of the reform, which presents significant challenges:
  • the complexity of the new provisions will require significant engagement of stakeholders to ensure they understand the new requirements
  • the agency had to realign some of its priorities for the 2015 general election
  • new ongoing requirements stemming from the legislation, such as establishing a regime for publishing guidelines, interpretation notes and written opinions, will add financial pressures on the agency
Electoral Operations

Regulation of Electoral Activities

Electoral Engagement

Internal Services
Fiscal restraint measures affect Elections Canada's ability to continue to deliver and enhance its programs. In 2012–13, the agency completed a zero-based-budgeting review. The workforce adjustment measures that followed in 2013–14 eliminated 32 encumbered indeterminate positions.

In 2013–14, resources were reallocated to enhance the capacity of the political financing program and the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections, and to establish an electoral integrity unit.

New budget restraint measures introduced by the government continue to put pressure on Elections Canada's ability to manage within its appropriation.
Electoral Operations

Regulation of Electoral Activities

Electoral Engagement

Internal Services

Actual Expenditures

Budgetary Financial Resources (dollars)
2013–14
Main Estimates
2013–14
Planned Spending
2013–14
Total Authorities
Available for Use
2013–14
Actual Spending
(Authorities Used)
Difference
(Actual Minus Planned)
115,854,117 115,854,117 121,908,641 120,227,749 4,373,632*

*The difference of $4.4 million between actual spending ($120.2 million) and planned spending ($115.9 million) for 2013–14 is mainly a result of statutory expenditures linked to the conduct of the 2013 by-elections. Elections Canada does not include the incremental costs of election readiness and delivery activities in its planned expenditures, as they vary from year to year.


Human Resources (Full-Time Equivalents [FTEs])
2013–14
Planned
2013–14
Actual
2013–14
Difference
(Actual Minus Planned)
488 473 (15)


Budgetary Performance Summary for Strategic Outcome and Programs (dollars)
Strategic Outcome(s), Program(s) and Internal Services 2013–14
Main Estimates
2013–14
Planned Spending
2014–15
Planned Spending
2015–16
Planned Spending*
2013–14 Total Authorities Available for Use 2013–14
Actual Spending (Authorities Used)
2012–13
Actual Spending (Authorities Used)
2011–12
Actual Spending (Authorities Used)
Strategic Outcome: An Accessible Electoral Framework That Canadians Trust and Use
Electoral Operations 36,641,312 36,641,312 34,938,217 34,766,039 45,900,589 45,326,885 37,009,414 202,833,122
Regulation of Electoral Activities 28,072,002 28,072,002 19,959,354 12,516,274 28,595,985 27,960,704 37,509,163 102,957,957
Electoral Engagement 8,939,136 8,939,136 8,441,546 8,441,546 8,142,702 7,974,120 7,860,678 7,892,605
Subtotal 73,652,450 73,652,450 63,339,117 55,723,859 82,639,276 81,261,709 82,379,255 313,683,684
Internal Services 42,201,667 42,201,667 33,771,315 33,943,493 39,269,365 38,966,040 37,200,938 35,668,311
Total 115,854,117 115,854,117 97,110,432 89,667,352 121,908,641 120,227,749 119,580,193 349,351,995

*Planned spending for 2015–16 does not include the incremental costs related to the general election scheduled for October 2015.

Financial Framework

Elections Canada's unique dual funding mechanism and planning practices are a function of its mandate. The agency is funded in part by an annual appropriation that covers the salaries of its permanent staff and is not affected by the electoral cycle. Given the unpredictability of electoral events, the agency also has a statutory authority that allows it to draw directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Under Canada's parliamentary system, general elections are scheduled to take place on fixed dates but can still be called in advance. This is particularly the case in a minority government situation. By-elections, which take place whenever seats in the House of Commons become vacant, are also unpredictable.

As a result of these varying circumstances, Elections Canada does not include the incremental costs of election activities in its planned expenditures.

Agency Spending Trend

Agency Spending Trend

Text version

*Election readiness activities that are underway for the 2015 general election are not reflected in the planned spending.

The chart above shows the spending trend from 2011–12 to 2016–17, the last three years being planned spending. The significantly increased spending in 2011–12 results from the conduct of the 2011 general election. The gradual reduction in spending from 2013–14 is explained as follows:

Estimates by Vote

For information on Elections Canada's organizational votes and statutory expenditures, consult the Public Accounts of Canada 2014 on the Public Works and Government Services Canada website.Footnote 8