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2015–16 – 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 1, Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act Footnote 2, Referendum Act Footnote 3


New Legislation

An analysis of proposed amendments to electoral legislationFootnote 4 impacting Elections Canada's business can be found on the agency's website.

Note: At the time of finalizing the 20152016 Report on Plans and Priorities, Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act, had just been introduced. It remains before Parliament. Elections Canada had insufficient time to review the new legislation and factor in its implementation, including planned expenditures, for the current report. The agency will provide updates in its 20152016 quarterly financial reports

Judicial Decisions and Proceedings

An analysis of judicial decisions and proceedingsFootnote 5 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:


In fulfilling its mandate, Elections Canada also has the responsibility to:

Strategic Outcome(s) and Program Alignment Architecture

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

*Note: Enforcement provisions of the Canada Elections Act now fall under the Director of Public Prosecutions. Elections Canada will amend its PAA to reflect this change.

Organizational Priorities

Organizational Priorities
Priority 1 Type Program(s)
Maintain readiness and successfully deliver the 42nd general election in 2015 New Electoral Operations
Regulation of Electoral Activities
Electoral Engagement
Internal Services

Delivering elections is at the core of Elections Canada’s mandate. The 42nd general election is scheduled to take place on October 19, 2015. Elections Canada achieved election readiness by March 1, 2015. The agency has largely implemented amendments to the Canada Elections Act and completed the vast majority of its three-year plan of administrative changes aimed at improving services to electors.

Deploying resources for conducting and wrapping up the general election will be the agency's sole priority in 20152016. Elections Canada’s efforts in delivering the next general election are guided by the following objectives:

  • strengthen Canadians' confidence in the reliability of election results and the agency's administration and regulation of the event
  • enhance the electoral experience of electors and political entities within the parameters of the Canada Elections Act
  • administer and regulate an increasingly complex electoral event in a transparent and effective manner

Over the reporting period, progressive deployment activities will consist of:

  • hiring and training additional personnel required for the conduct of the election
  • staging field material and equipment
  • setting up call centres
  • conducting pre-election advertising for voter registration
  • printing manuals and various geographical products
  • provisioning technology to field offices

Once the writs are issued, the main delivery activities will entail:

  • informing Canadians on when, where and the different ways to register and vote
  • registering electors and preparing the preliminary lists of electors
  • supporting political entities and keeping them informed
  • opening 338 local offices and 240 additional points of service
  • receiving, assessing and confirming candidate nominations
  • hiring, assessing and training election workers
  • conducting targeted revision
  • delivering voter information cards to some 25 million electors
  • opening over 70,000 polling stations in approximately 20,000 polling sites
  • counting the votes and reporting results to headquarters and to the media consortium

Close-out activities following the general election will include:

  • validating election results
  • participating in judicial recounts as required
  • evaluating and reporting on the conduct of the election and internal programs
  • releasing an audit report on the performance of poll workers
  • auditing political entities' financial returns and reimbursing election expenses of eligible political parties and candidates

Risk Analysis

Key Analysis
Risk Risk Response Strategy Link to PAA
General election called before October 19, 2015 The 42nd general election is scheduled for October 19, 2015, but a general election could be called at an earlier date. To mitigate this risk, Elections Canada achieved election readiness by March 1. It will continue to monitor its operating environment and begin deploying event delivery resources when and if required. Electoral Operations
Regulation of Electoral Activities
Electoral Engagement
Internal Services
Insufficient time to fully implement changes in Bill C-50 within the proposed 60 days for its coming into force Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act, was introduced on December 10, 2014, and remains before Parliament. While every effort will be made to implement this bill, 60 days following royal assent is insufficient time for the agency to fully implement the changes. As and when required, the agency will determine how it can proceed to implement the bill and inform parliamentarians. Electoral Operations
Regulation of Electoral Activities
Electoral Engagement
Internal Services
Electoral event delivery impacted by a compromise of information and communications technology systems or services Information and communications technology systems and services have a significant role to play at all times, but especially during an election period and on election day. Numerous measures have been and will continue to be taken as part of an agency-wide mitigation plan, including risk and vulnerability assessments and contingency planning. Electoral Operations
Regulation of Electoral Activities
Electoral Engagement
Internal Services
Non-compliance by poll workers with rules and procedures prescribed by the Canada Elections Act Voting processes and procedures are complex. To reduce the impact of this complexity, Elections Canada invested in a new election officer recruitment and training program. The agency also reviewed forms and processes with a view to making them more user-friendly. Finally, to help returning officers recruit competent staff, the agency is proceeding with a Treasury Board submission to increase the fees paid to poll workers and other local office staff. Electoral Operations
Regulation of Electoral Activities
Electoral Engagement
Internal Services

Planned Expenditures

Budgetary Financial Resources (dollars)
Main Estimates
Planned Spending
Planned Spending
Planned Spending
395,959,817 395,959,817 90,511,619 87,436,132

Human Resources (Full–Time Equivalents)
20152016 20162017 20172018
554 452 452

Budgetary Planning Summary for Strategic Outcome and Programs (dollars)
Strategic Outcome, Programs and Internal Services 20122013
Forecast Spending
Main Estimates*
Planned Spending*
Planned Spending
Planned Spending
Strategic Outcome: An Accessible Electoral Framework that Canadians Trust and Use
Electoral Operations** 37,009,414 45,326,885 95,546,949 277,113,580 277,113,580 39,633,822 38,262,594
Regulation of Electoral Activities*** 37,509,163 27,960,704 20,791,801 79,015,382 79,015,382 10,949,059 9,244,800
Electoral Engagement 7,860,678 7,974,120 8,982,024 8,060,043 8,060,043 8,118,902 8,118,902
Subtotal 82,379,255 81,261,709 125,320,774 364,189,005 364,189,005 58,701,783 55,626,296
Internal Services**** 37,200,938 38,966,040 31,693,618 31,770,812 31,770,812 31,809,836 31,809,836
Total 119,580,193 120,227,749 157,014,392 395,959,817 395,959,817 90,511,619 87,436,132

*20152016 Main Estimates and Planned Spending are significantly higher than in previous years because of the 2015 general election.

**Forecast spending for the Electoral Operations program is higher in 20142015 as a result of the activities required to achieve operational readiness for the 2015 general election.

***The reduction in spending on the Regulation of Electoral Activities program from 20122013 to 20142015 primarily results from the phase-out of 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. The increase in 20152016 results from the expected reimbursements that will be paid to eligible political parties and candidates for expenses in the 2015 general election.

****Internal Services spending for 20122013 and 20132014 includes one-time expenditures for the Office Consolidation and Relocation project. The project ended in 20132014.

Departmental Spending Trend

Departmental Spending Trend

Departmental Spending Trend Graph – Text version

Forecast spending is higher in 20142015 as a result of the activities required to achieve operational readiness for the 42nd general election, which is to be held on October 19, 2015. The fall election also explains the significant increase in planned spending in 2015–16.

The reduction in spending between 2012–13 and 2017–18, two non-general election years, is largely explained by the phase-out of quarterly allowances to political parties and the completion of Elections Canada's office consolidation in Gatineau.

The reduction from 2016–17 to 2017–18 is explained by the expected completion of activities closing out the 42nd general election.

The reduction of planned spending in the Voted authority mainly results from transferring the Commissioner of Canada Elections to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

Elections Canada's 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 held to fill vacant seats in the House of Commons 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.

However, being in the third year of a majority government, the agency has included the estimated statutory funding requirements for the next general election in its planned spending. Related planned spending is also shown for 2015–16, 2016–17 and 2017–18.

Planned spending related to the 2015 general election is an estimate based on detailed forecasts and assumptions. A number of factors can impact the planned spending. These include but are not limited to the following: the actual duration of the campaign (the Act sets a minimum of 36 days); the level of spending by political entities, which impacts reimbursements; adjustments to election worker fees and allowances; market forces for expenses such as the media buy, local office rents, furniture and equipment; outstanding procurement processes; and the actual level of staffing in the field to meet requirements.

Estimates by Vote

For information on Elections Canada's organizational appropriations, consult the 2015–16 Main Estimates on the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat website.Footnote 6