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2014–2015 – Report on Plans and Priorities

Section I: Organizational Expenditure Overview

Organizational Profile

Chief Electoral Officer: Marc Mayrand

Agency: Office of the Chief Electoral Officer

Year established: 1920

Main legislative authorities: Canada Elections Act Footnote 3, Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act Footnote 4, Referendum Act Footnote 5

Other:

New Legislation

An analysis of proposed amendments to electoral legislationFootnote 6 with a potential impact on our business can be found on the Elections Canada website.

Judicial Decisions and Proceedings

An analysis of judicial decisions and proceedingsFootnote 7 that may affect electoral legislation can be found on the Elections Canada website.

Organizational Context

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 independent of any political or government interference and is assisted by investigators, lawyers and administrative personnel. In carrying out the mandate of the Commissioner's Office, 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.

Strategic Outcome and Program Alignment Architecture

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

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

Organizational Priorities

Priority 1 Type Programs
Finalize improvements for the 2015 general election Previously committed to Electoral Operations
Regulation of Electoral Activities
Electoral Engagement
Internal Services
Description
Why is this a priority?

In 2012, Elections Canada embarked on a three-year plan to improve services to electors and engage youth for the 2015 general election. These initiatives respond to evolving needs: electors expect to exercise their democratic right to vote using a modern electoral process that incorporates technological advances, and provides more convenient and accessible services. Some groups of electors, particularly youth, continue to face barriers to registration and voting. Modernizing the electoral system is about making it simple for Canadians to exercise their rights in ways that meet their needs and expectations.

The agency must act on issues that emerged following the May 2011 general election – deceptive communications with electors as well as procedural and record-keeping errors on election day – to improve compliance and maintain Canadians’ confidence in their electoral system. Canadians expect impartial and effective enforcement of the rules.

What are the plans for meeting this priority?

To provide more convenient services and reduce barriers to registration and voting, Elections Canada will:
  • ensure electors know where, when and how to register and vote, and turn to Elections Canada when in doubt
  • make online voter registration available during elections and encourage voters to use it
  • extend the use of the voter information card as proof of identity and address to all electors
  • increase opportunities to register and vote among youth and Aboriginal electors
  • pilot a new voting model to improve services, simplify procedures and improve compliance at the polls
  • engage youth by sharing knowledge with key stakeholders
  • engage stakeholders on initiatives that reduce voting barriers for electors with disabilities
  • access Manitoba driver’s licence data to improve the quality of the voters lists
  • develop an online system for managing enquiries and complaints
To improve compliance, in light of the experience of the 41st general election, Elections Canada will:
  • integrate compliance into the design of planned initiatives for the next general election
  • establish an electoral integrity coordination office to improve public confidence as well as prevent and detect electoral malpractices


Priority 2 Type Programs
Prepare for the 2015 general election New Electoral Operations
Regulation of Electoral Activities
Electoral Engagement
Internal Services
Description
Why is this a priority?

Delivering elections is at the core of Elections Canada's mandate. With the next general election set for October 2015, preparing for the election will be a priority this fiscal year. In this regard, the agency will start integrating its planned improvements into all programs and begin building the capacity required to deliver the general election.

In addition, Elections Canada has until May 2014 to implement the new electoral district boundaries defined by the representation order proclaimed in October 2013.

What are the plans for meeting this priority?

The 42nd general election, scheduled for October 2015, could possibly overlap with a number of provincial and territorial elections. We aim to achieve full election readiness by April 1, 2015, in case the general election is called earlier.

To prepare for the next election, the agency will:
  • test and implement new systems
  • update procedures and manuals
  • finalize election worker recruitment and training plans
  • replenish election materials and supplies
  • select goods and services providers
To implement the new electoral boundaries, Elections Canada will:
  • adjust the lists of electors
  • redraw polling division boundaries
  • update the maps of electoral districts
  • appoint and train returning officers for new electoral districts
  • register new electoral district associations


Risk Analysis

Three main risks will require our attention over the 2014–15 fiscal year.

Risk Risk Response Strategy Link to Program
Alignment Architecture
Scope of electoral reform The government has indicated its intention to introduce new legislation in time for implementation prior to the next federal election. Elections Canada will review the legislation and prioritize the implementation of elements that are directly related to the conduct and integrity of the 2015 general election. Electoral Operations
Regulation of Electoral
Activities
Electoral Engagement
Internal Services
Impact of electoral reform and new electoral districts on Elections Canada's capacity and operating budget Given the need to strengthen the integrity of the electoral process and address the ongoing requirements associated with 30 additional electoral districts, as well as the potential demands of the anticipated electoral reform, Elections Canada will review its operating budget in 2014–15. We may seek additional authorities to address emerging pressures on our appropriation. Electoral Operations
Regulation of Electoral
Activities
Electoral Engagement
Internal Services
Conduct of a referendum Given the review of the Referendum Act undertaken by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs in 2009 with a view of modernizing the legislation, Elections Canada decided at the time to suspend any readiness activities for the conduct of a referendum. Accordingly, Elections Canada is not currently prepared to hold a referendum and will not invest resources in 2014–15 toward such preparation. The agency is focused on preparing for the 2015 general election. Electoral Operations
Regulation of Electoral
Activities
Electoral Engagement
Internal Services

Planned Expenditures

Budgetary Financial Resources (Planned Spending – dollars)
2014–15
Main Estimates
2014–15
Planned Spending
2015–16
Planned Spending
2016–17
Planned Spending
97,110,432 97,110,432 89,667,352 89,667,352


Human Resources (Full-Time Equivalents – FTEs)
2014–15 2015–16 2016–17
468 467 467


Budgetary Planning Summary for Strategic Outcome and Programs (dollars)
Strategic Outcome, Programs and Internal Services 2011–12
Expenditures*
2012–13
Expenditures
2013–14
Forecast
Spending
2014–15
Main
Estimates
2014–15
Planned
Spending
2015–16
Planned
Spending
2016–17
Planned
Spending
Strategic Outcome: An Accessible Electoral Framework that Canadians Trust and Use
Electoral Operations** 202,833,122 37,009,414 46,079,709 34,938,217 34,938,217 34,766,039 34,766,039
Regulation of Electoral Activities*** 102,957,957 37,509,163 28,118,195 19,959,354 19,959,354 12,516,274 12,516,274
Electoral Engagement 7,892,605 7,860,678 7,931,956 8,441,546 8,441,546 8,441,546 8,441,546
Internal Services**** Subtotal 35,668,311 37,200,938 41,003,358 33,771,315 33,771,315 33,943,493 33,943,493
Total 349,351,995 119,580,193 123,133,218 97,110,432 97,110,432 89,667,352 86,667,352

*Expenditures in 2011–12 were significantly higher than in other years because of the 41st general election of May 2, 2011.

**Forecast spending for the Electoral Operations program is higher in 2013–14 than in future years mainly as a result of the May and November 2013 by-elections as well as the redistribution of electoral districts and their implementation.

***The reduction in spending on the Regulation of Electoral Activities program from 2013–14 to 2015–16 is primarily a result of phasing out the quarterly allowances to political parties, as set out in An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011 and other measures.

****Internal Services spending for 2012–13 and 2013–14 includes one-time expenditures for the Office Consolidation and Relocation project. The project ends in 2013–14.

Departmental Spending Trend

Departmental Spending Trend Graph

Departmental Spending Trend

Departmental Spending Trend Graph – Textual description

The significant increase in spending in 2011–12 is a result of the 41st general election held on May 2, 2011. Forecast spending is higher in 2013–14 than in future years mainly as a result of the May and November 2013 by-elections, the redistribution of electoral districts and their implementation, and one-time expenditures for the Office Consolidation and Relocation project. The gradual reduction in spending from 2013–14 to 2015–16 is also a result of phasing out the quarterly allowances to political parties.

Elections Canada's Financial Framework

While Elections Canada performs a number of ongoing functions, a key component of its mandate is to be prepared to conduct general elections, by-elections and referendums. Under our parliamentary system, by-elections can happen at any time. While a fixed date of October 19, 2015, for the 42nd general election facilitates Elections Canada's long-term planning, a number of provincial and territorial elections are also scheduled to be held in the fall of 2015. These overlapping electoral events will pose challenges to electors, political entities and Elections Canada. Under these circumstances, should a federal election be called earlier than expected, Elections Canada will need to be ready.

The agency's dual funding mechanism and planning practices are a unique characteristic of its mandate. Elections Canada 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.

Elections Canada's statutory authority covers all of its other expenses. Some of these expenses are unpredictable and are not included in its planned spending, such as those related to electoral events.

Estimates by Vote

For information on Elections Canada's organizational appropriations, please see the 2014–15 Main Estimates publication.Footnote 8