open Secondary menu

Key changes for the 43rd general election

Printable PDF Version

  1. Changes affecting electors
  2. Changes affecting candidates, parties and third parties
  3. Changes affecting the compliance and enforcement framework
  4. New or amended Canada Elections Act offences
  5. Other changes
1- Changes affecting electors
Topic Change/Novelty

Non-resident electors

Non-resident electors are now able to vote from abroad if they have at any time been a resident in Canada. All other eligibility criteria for special ballot voting by non-resident electors have been repealed.

A Canadian elector living abroad who has previously resided in Canada is entitled to vote by special ballot in federal elections, regardless of how long they have been living abroad.

A person who applies to the International Register of Electors must prove their identity and Canadian citizenship and must indicate the address of their last place of ordinary residence in Canada. This address cannot be changed once an elector has been added to the International Register of Electors.

Previously, the place of ordinary residence for voting purposes could have been a former place of residence, but it could also have been a place to which the person has a connection, even though they have never actually resided there, such as a spouse's or relative's address.

Vouching process

Bill C-76 substantially restores the vouching process in place prior to the Fair Elections Act.

Eligible vouchers now include any elector assigned to the polling station, as long as they know the person for whom they are vouching.

Further expansion of the vouching role where the voucher is a worker in an institution for seniors or persons with disabilities and is vouching for a resident:

  • the employee must reside in the same electoral district or an "adjacent" electoral district
  • multiple vouching is permitted

Advance polls

Advance poll processes will be made more efficient through:

  • the elimination of the elector signature requirement
  • extended hours for advance polls (9:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.), allowing more electors to be served
  • simplified closing procedures for advance polls, as one ballot box (or more, if the number of ballots cast requires it) will be used throughout the four days of advance poll voting
  • replacing specific requirements so that closing proceeds according to the Chief Electoral Officer's (CEO) instruction
  • explicitly allowing counting of advance poll votes to begin an hour before the close of ordinary polls in order to facilitate the timely delivery of results

Voting by Canadian Forces electors

The legislation makes significant amendments to voting under the special voting rules (SVR) procedures. Notably, rules for Canadian Forces electors are changed to allow those electors to vote through ordinary voting channels should they wish to do so.

Polls and poll workers

The legislation amends the Canada Elections Act to provide significant flexibility in how and where electors are served. This flexibility will allow Elections Canada to retain to a great extent the current voting model for the 43rd general election while allowing planning to proceed for future elections.

Electors will continue to vote by polling division at ordinary polls; however, there will be the potential for polling stations to serve multiple polling divisions in the future, and electors in the future may be able to vote at any table within a polling station. This amendment will ensure more efficient operations at the busiest polling stations and at peak times.

Generally, the same tasks as before will be performed at the polls (whether on paper or electronically); however, polling station workers in the future will be able to shift roles as needed.

This could allow workers to:

  • rotate among service points for breaks during the long work day
  • shift from verifying ID, issuing ballots and record-keeping at a voting table to assisting in polling station registration processes in order to clear a bottleneck at registration tables

Voter ID–Voter Information Card

The legislation allows the CEO to authorize the use of the voter information card as a proof of address.

A second piece of ID, proving the elector's identity, must be presented.

2- Changes affecting candidates, parties and third parties
Topic Change/Novelty

Pre-election period

The legislation creates a "pre-election period" for fixed date elections, that will begin on June 30, 2019 and end the day before the election is called. Political parties and third parties will be subject to new spending limits and reporting requirements for this period.

Length of the election period

The legislation limits the election period to 51 days from polling day.

Third parties

The legislation will extend the categories of third-party activities that are regulated during the pre-election and election periods to other political activities beyond "advertising." During the pre-election period, only explicitly partisan advertising or activities and election surveys will be regulated. During the election period all election advertising, partisan activities and election surveys will be regulated. Third parties will be subject to extensive new reporting requirements.

In addition to a completed return four months after election day, up to four interim third-party returns will be required for third parties with $10,000 in relevant contributions or expenses:

  • five days after registration
  • on September 15
  • 21 days before election day
  • 7 days before election day

The pre-election limit for third parties is $1,023,400 nationally, and $10,234 per electoral district for expenses incurred for regulated activity.

The tagline identifying a third party on or in advertising must include their name, telephone number and address.

The tagline for third parties must be "clearly visible or otherwise accessible".

The tagline requirements for parties and candidates unchanged.

Political parties

  • The registered party limit for pre-election period partisan advertising will be $2,046,800.
  • Addition of power of Commissioner to more easily request documents from a party under investigation.
  • Creation of a reimbursement for accessibility expenses related to a campaign (90% reimbursement up to $250,000).
  • Before applying to Elections Canada for registration, each political party must publish on its website the party's policy for the protection of personal information. In order to maintain its registration, a registered party must ensure its policy remains available online.

Expenses and reimbursement

The legislation will make the following substantial changes to the regulation and reporting of expenses and to reimbursement levels:

  • the abolishment of pro rata increase in spending limits for parties and candidates and third parties for election periods longer than 37 days
  • candidate eligibility for increased reimbursement rates for childcare and other personal expenses (90%)
  • creation of a reimbursement for accessibility expenses related to a campaign (90% reimbursement up to $5,000)
  • ability for candidates or any other person or entity to pay for personal expenses and litigation expenses without the payment being subject to the contributor eligibility rules of the contribution limits

Candidate nomination process

The legislation makes important changes to requirements for candidate nominations. Proof of candidate identity and "commonly known names" will be required; nomination deposits and nomination witness requirements have been abolished.

3- Changes affecting the compliance and enforcement framework
Topic Change/Novelty

The relocation of the Commissioner of Canada Elections

In 2014, responsibility for the Commissioner of Canada Elections (the Commissioner) was assigned to the Director of Public Prosecutions. This move was reversed by the Elections Modernization Act. The Office of the Commissioner will be formally located within the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, but in practice, the Commissioner will continue to be independent of Elections Canada. A number of amendments to the CEA reinforce that independence.

New Commissioner powers

The legislation amends the CEA to allow the Commissioner to compel testimony in certain circumstances after obtaining an order from a court. This new power will assist the Commissioner in completing a timely and complete investigation of alleged non-compliance with the CEA.

In addition, the legislation amends the CEA to allow the Commissioner to lay charges upon completion of an investigation. The decision to prosecute remains with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, but the new power will facilitate a timely trial where a decision to prosecute is made.

Administrative monetary penalties (AMPS)

Despite the fact that most instances of non-compliance are administrative in nature, criminal prosecution is currently the primary enforcement mechanism contemplated by the CEA.

The legislation provides for:

  • an alternative administrative enforcement mechanism that will allow the Commissioner to issue fines for non-compliance with political financing requirements and certain voting offences
  • flexibility to ensure fines are tailored to fit the nature of the violation
  • the Chief Electoral Officer to act as a review authority, where a review is requested of AMPs imposing fines over $500 for individuals or $1,500 for entities

4- New or amended Canada Elections Act offences
Topic Change/Novelty

Foreign influence

  • Clear prohibition on use of funds by third parties for regulated activities where the source of funds is a foreign entity.
  • Somewhat expanded definition of "foreign entity" third party for some purposes.
  • New prohibition against sale of advertising space to foreigners.


  • New offence respecting who may not be impersonated during the election includes the CEO and returning officers. Also includes online or social-media-based impersonation.
  • New offence related to unauthorized use of a computer.

Inducement and influence

  • Prohibitions and offences using the words "induce" or "influence" amended to add the notion of "attempt to influence" and "attempt to induce".
  • For election officers or RO office staff members: new prohibition from trying to influence electors on how to vote while performing their duties.

Election officers use of personal information

  • Election officers prohibited from using or disclosing personal information that they obtain in the course of their duties, other than for a purpose related to their duties

5- Other changes
Topic Change/Novelty

Register of future electors

The legislation establishes a Register of Future Electors in which Canadian citizens aged 14 to 17 may consent to be included.

The Register of Future Electors contains information (name, date of birth, gender, address, and unique identifier) on those who consented to register with Elections Canada. When these citizens turn 18, this information is used to update the National Register of Electors to produce lists of electors for federal elections and referendums.

Information on future electors may not be provided to provincial agencies that share information with parties (s. 55(1.1)).

Information in Register of Future Electors will receive protection equivalent or superior to that in the National Register of Electors (s. 539.1).

Expanded public communication mandate

C-76 authorizes the CEO to communicate with the public to make the electoral process better known. Previous limits on target audiences for communications have been repealed.

Limit to length of party name

The legislation gives authority to the CEO to prescribe a limit on the length of a registered party's name.

Online platforms

Certain websites will be required to maintain a registry of partisan and election advertising messages.

Regulated platforms include "Internet sites and applications" that directly or indirectly sell advertising and were visited or used in Canada on average per month:

  • 3,000,000 times if mainly in English
  • 1,000,000 times if mainly in French
  • 100,000 times if mainly in a non-official language