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2016–17 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:

Other:

New Legislation

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

Judicial Decisions and Proceedings

An analysis of judicial decisions and proceedingsFootnote 5 that may affect electoral legislation can be found on Elections Canada's 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 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):

Organizational Priorities

Priority 1: Prepare for, conduct and report on elections

Description: Delivering elections is at the core of Elections Canada's mandate. The 42nd general election took place on October 19, 2015. The agency will continue its ongoing programs in support of electoral events and elector awareness, and will be prepared to conduct by-elections as they are called.

Priority Type: New

Priority 2: Pursue electoral modernization

Description: Canadians expect to exercise their democratic right to vote through a modern electoral process that incorporates technological advances and provides more convenient and accessible services. Elections Canada continuously develops and implements administrative improvements to stay aligned with their evolving expectations.

Priority Type: New

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Start Date End Date Link to Program Alignment Architecture
Continue to analyze the 42nd general election, compile lessons learned and identify areas for further improvements. August 2015 December 2016
  • Electoral Operations
  • Regulation of Electoral Activities
  • Electoral Engagement
  • Internal Services
Communicate the results of the independent audit on the performance of electoral workers. June 2016 June 2016
  • Regulation of Electoral Activities
  • Internal Services
Audit political entities' financial returns:
  • issue reimbursements of election expenses to eligible political parties and candidates
  • complete audit of all other financial returns
February 2016

December 2016

February 2018
  • Regulation of Electoral Activities
  • Internal Services
Release a new strategic plan to guide the agency's modernization efforts toward the next general election, and make recommendations for enabling legislative change. January 2016 October 2016
  • Electoral Operations
  • Regulation of Electoral Activities
  • Electoral Engagement
  • Internal Services
In the context of the electoral reform announced by the government, the agency will be ready to support Parliament and provide technical advice. Ongoing Ongoing
  • Electoral Operations
  • Regulation of Electoral Activities
  • Electoral Engagement
  • Internal Services


Risk Analysis
Key Risks Risk Response Strategy Link to Program Alignment Architecture
There is insufficient time for Elections Canada to implement electoral reform and deliver an election that meets the expectations of Canadians. The government has announced its intention to introduce comprehensive legislation to enact electoral reform. In 201617, Elections Canada will begin to establish the capacity it requires to support and implement electoral reform, which will involve additional resources. The agency stands ready to adjust its priorities, plans and forecasted spending to adapt to the nature, scope and timeframe of electoral reform. However, timely enactment and implementation of electoral reform are key to ensuring that changes are in place for the 2019 general election and that Canadians benefit from a high-quality electoral event that meets their expectations.
  • Electoral Operations
  • Regulation of Electoral Activities
  • Electoral Engagement
  • Internal Services
Elections Canada is not currently prepared to hold a referendum. In 2009, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs began but did not complete a review of the Referendum Act.

In that context, Elections Canada informed Parliament that the agency suspended readiness activities for the conduct of a referendum pending the implementation of legislative amendments. Accordingly, Elections Canada is not currently prepared to hold a referendum. In order to conduct a referendum, the agency would require a minimum of six months following legislative changes.
  • Electoral Operations
  • Regulation of Electoral Activities
  • Electoral Engagement
  • Internal Services

Planned Expenditures

The total planned spending and human resources for the next three fiscal years are summarized in the following tables. They show the year-to-year variation in the agency's resources, which results from the cyclical activity that supports election programs. Spending typically peaks in the fiscal year in which a general election is conducted. During a majority government, a typical cycle covers four years. Fiscal years 201617 and 201718 include residual spending and temporary Full-Time Equivalents for post-2015 general election activities.

Budgetary Financial Resources (dollars)
201617
Main Estimates
201617
Planned Spending
201718
Planned Spending
201819
Planned Spending
98,535,261 98,535,261 93,409,578 89,371,729


Human Resources (Full-Time Equivalents [FTEs])
201617 201718 201819
487 459 456

The agency spending fluctuation is dictated mostly by election dates. As the 42nd general election was held on October 19, 2015, the effects are reflected by the peak of expenditures forecasted for its conduct in 201516, as well as higher expenditures in 201415, when activities required to achieve operational readiness took place. In the years following an election, expenditures drop sharply, returning to their usual level as election activities wind down.

Budgetary Planning Summary for Strategic Outcome and Programs (dollars)
Strategic Outcome(s), Program(s) and Internal Services 201314
Expenditures
201415
Expenditures
201516
Forecast Spending
201617
Main Estimates
201617
Planned Spending
201718
Planned Spending
201819
Planned Spending
Strategic Outcome: An Accessible Electoral Framework that Canadians Trust and Use
Electoral Operations 45,326,885 90,292,796 341,520,942 45,743,386 45,743,386 42,310,793 39,407,439
Regulation of Electoral Activities 27,960,704 18,101,587 78,235,753 11,656,805 11,656,805 9,963,715 8,829,220
Electoral Engagement 7,974,120 8,261,985 8,845,153 9,059,837 9,059,837 9,059,837 9,059,837
Subtotal 81,261,709 116,656,368 428,601,848 66,460,028 66,460,028 61,334,345 57,296,496
Internal Services
Subtotal
38,966,040 34,110,007 33,500,467 32,075,233 32,075,233 32,075,233 32,075,233
Total 120,227,749 150,766,375 462,102,315 98,535,261 98,535,261 93,409,578 89,371,729

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 unpredictable timing and duration 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. Election campaigns can also extend beyond the minimum 36-day period, which has a significant impact on costs. By-elections held to fill vacant seats in the House of Commons are also unpredictable. As a result, costs to prepare and deliver future general elections and by-elections are not included in Elections Canada's planned expenditures at this time.

Agency Spending Trend

Agency Spending Trend

Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Agency Spending Trend – Text version

The graph illustrates the agency spending trend over six fiscal years. It shows a peak in 201516 due to the conduct of the 2015 general election. Expenditures in 201415 are also higher than usual due to the activities required to achieve operational readiness before the election. This pattern is a result of the election cycle and is typical for the agency. These variations affect only the statutory portion of the funding, which covers election delivery expenditures and transfer payments to political entities. Elections Canada's operating budget is also part of the statutory authority, but remains relatively stable over the years.

The difference in statutory expenditure levels between 201314 and 201819 is mainly due to the phasing out of the quarterly allowances to political parties and the investment in 201314 to relocate Elections Canada's headquarters to Gatineau.

At the time of finalizing this report, the preliminary estimated cost of the 2015 general election is $443M. Expenditures related to the conduct of the general election span fiscal years 201314 to 201718. Expenditures include the reimbursements of election expenses to political entities which had been estimated to $67M for a 36-day electoral period; Elections Canada will update the estimate once election returns have been filed. The filing deadlines are February 19, 2016, for candidates and June 19, 2016, for political parties.

Estimates by Vote

For information on Elections Canada's organizational appropriations, consult the 201617 Main Estimates.Footnote 6