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Facts about voter information and privacy

Political parties' access to the personal information of electors

The Canada Elections Act states that Elections Canada must provide voters lists to members of Parliament, registered and eligible political parties, and candidates. These voters lists, also known as lists of electors, contain the names, addresses and unique identifier numbers of voters.

Political parties often supplement the basic information they get from the voters lists with information about voters derived from other sources.

Elections Canada provides Political Parties, members of Parliament and candidates with Guidelines for Use of the Lists of Electors. The guidelines explain how recipients are allowed to use the lists and reminds them of the importance of safeguarding confidential information at all times.

Changes included in Bill C-76, known as the Elections Modernization Act

The new Elections Modernization Act, requires that when political parties apply to register with Elections Canada, they must provide a policy on how they will protect personal information. They must publish this policy on their website. If they do not publish a privacy policy, they may not be registered. In addition, existing registered parties will need to publish their policies showing how they protect personal information.

Privacy protection principles for political parties across the country

The federal Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) do not apply to political parties. British Columbia is the only Canadian jurisdiction that has legislation that covers political parties in the province through the Personal Information Protection Act.

Elections Canada's privacy obligations

Elections Canada is subject to the Privacy Act. The Privacy Act states that personal information under the control of a government institution should only be disclosed in very limited circumstances. The Canada Elections Act requires Elections Canada to share the voters lists with political parties, and states how the lists are to be shared and used.