2016–17 Report on Plans and Priorities
Section I: Organizational Expenditure Overview
Chief Electoral Officer: Marc Mayrand
Agency: Office of the Chief Electoral Officer
Year established: 1920
Main legislative authorities:
- Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9Footnote 1
- Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. E-3Footnote 2
- Referendum Act, S.C. 1992, c. 30Footnote 3
Judicial Decisions and Proceedings
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:
- be prepared to conduct a federal general election, by-election or referendum
- administer the political financing provisions of the Canada Elections Act
- monitor compliance with electoral legislation
- conduct public information campaigns on voter registration, voting and becoming a candidate
- conduct education programs for students on the electoral process
- provide support to the independent commissions in charge of adjusting the boundaries of federal electoral districts following each decennial census
- carry out studies on voting and, with the approval of parliamentarians, test alternative voting processes for future use during electoral events
- provide assistance and cooperation in electoral matters to electoral agencies in other countries or to international organizations
In fulfilling its mandate, Elections Canada also has the responsibility to:
- appoint, train and support returning officers and retain the services of field liaison officers across Canada
- maintain the National Register of Electors, which is used to prepare preliminary lists of electors at the start of electoral events
- publish reports on the conduct of elections and official voting results
- maintain electoral geography information, which provides the basis for maps and other geographic products
- register political entities, including political parties, electoral district associations, candidates, nomination contestants, leadership contestants, third parties that engage in election advertising and referendum committees
- administer the reimbursements and subsidies paid to eligible candidates, registered political parties and auditors
- disclose information on registered parties and electoral district associations, registered parties' nomination and leadership contestants, candidates, third parties and referendum committees, including their financial returns
- refer to the Commissioner of Canada Elections information concerning possible offences under the Canada Elections Act (or other relevant Acts)
- consult the Advisory Committee of Political Parties for advice and recommendations
- issue written opinions, guidelines and interpretation notes on the application of the Canada Elections Act to political entities
- appoint the Broadcasting Arbitrator, who is responsible for allocating free and paid broadcasting time among political parties and for arbitrating disputes that may arise between parties and broadcasters
- recommend to Parliament amendments for the better administration of the Canada Elections Act by submitting a recommendations report after a general election, as well as by providing expert advice and other special reports
Strategic Outcome(s) 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
- 1.1 Program: Electoral Operations
- 1.1.1 Sub-program: Electoral Preparedness
- 1.1.2 Sub-program: Electoral Event Delivery
- 1.1.3 Sub-Program: Electoral Boundaries Redistribution
- 1.2 Program: Regulation of Electoral Activities
- 1.2.1 Sub-program: Administration of Political Financing
- 1.2.2 Sub-program: Compliance
- 1.3 Program: Electoral Engagement
- 1.3.1 Sub-program: Civic Education and Outreach
- 1.3.2 Sub-program: Electoral Development
- Internal Services
- 1.1 Program: Electoral Operations
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
|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||
|Communicate the results of the independent audit on the performance of electoral workers.||June 2016||June 2016||
|Audit political entities' financial returns:
|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||
|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||
|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 2016–17, 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.||
|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.
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 2016–17 and 2017–18 include residual spending and temporary Full-Time Equivalents for post-2015 general election activities.
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 2015–16, as well as higher expenditures in 2014–15, 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.
|Strategic Outcome(s), Program(s) and Internal Services|| 2013–14
|Strategic Outcome: An Accessible Electoral Framework that Canadians Trust and Use|
|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|
| Internal Services
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
Totals may not add up due to rounding.
The graph illustrates the agency spending trend over six fiscal years. It shows a peak in 2015–16 due to the conduct of the 2015 general election. Expenditures in 2014–15 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 2013–14 and 2018–19 is mainly due to the phasing out of the quarterly allowances to political parties and the investment in 2013–14 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 2013–14 to 2017–18. 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.