Political Financing Handbook for Candidates and Official Agents (EC 20155) – July 2021
12. Accessibility Expenses
This chapter discusses the campaign's accessibility expenses and reporting requirements. It covers the following topics:
- What are accessibility expenses?
- What are not accessibility expenses?
- Who can incur and pay accessibility expenses?
- Typical accessibility expenses (accessible website, sign language interpretation, communication products, construction and renovation)
What are accessibility expenses?
Accessibility expenses to accommodate persons with disabilities are:
- any cost incurred by the candidate for property or a service that is used solely to make materials used or activities held during an election period accessible
- the difference between the cost incurred for the property or service to make the materials or activities accessible, and the value of the property or service if the materials or activities had not been accessible
- a non-monetary contribution or transfer received by the candidate that is used solely to make materials used or activities held during an election period accessible
- the difference between the value of a non-monetary contribution or transfer received to make the materials or activities accessible, and the value of the property or service if the materials or activities had not been accessible
Accessibility expenses do not count against the election expenses limit. They may be eligible for partial reimbursement. See Chapter 17, Reimbursements and Subsidies, for more information.
What are not accessibility expenses?
The following are not accessibility expenses:
- an expense related to a candidate's fundraising activity
- an expense for material used or an activity held outside the election period only
- an expense that the campaign would have incurred for property or a service regardless of whether or not it was accessible
- an expense used for a purpose other than making material or an activity accessible
Note: Expenses incurred by candidates with a disability to support them while they campaign are not accessibility expenses but rather personal expenses. See Chapter 9, Candidate's Personal Expenses, for more information.
Who can incur and pay accessibility expenses?
Only the official agent, the candidate or a person authorized in writing by the official agent can incur accessibility expenses.
Only the official agent is allowed to pay accessibility expenses.
For a detailed discussion of this topic, please refer to Elections Canada's interpretation note 2019-07, Accessibility Expenses and Disability-Related Personal Expenses, on the Elections Canada website
Typical accessibility expenses
The following are examples of typical accessibility expenses that the campaign might incur.
A fully accessible campaign website is one that can be properly read by a screen reader, allows for navigation using a keyboard, gives the same information in alternative formats, uses adequate colour contrast, and so on.
Additional expenses to create an accessible website, to convert an inaccessible website, or to make some features accessible during the election period are accessibility expenses.
See the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for internationally recognized standards.
The campaign creates a website for use during the election period and pays to run accessibility diagnostics on the site. When the diagnostics show that several web pages need to be recoded for accessibility, the campaign hires a web designer to make the improvements. The diagnostics tool and web designer fees are accessibility expenses.
Sign language interpretation
The campaign might have a sign language interpreter at events where the candidate is speaking or at locations where information is being offered, so that events and information are accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The expense for interpretation services that make material or an activity accessible during the election is an accessibility expense.
Note: If an activity is directly linked to fundraising (for example, a ticketed fundraiser or auction), the expense for accommodation is not an accessibility expense. It is an other electoral campaign expense.
Communication products in adapted or alternative formats
Campaigns often distribute or publish communication products in print, audio, video and other formats. To make a communication accessible, the campaign may need to add an alternative format or adapt an existing format. For example, printed products can be reproduced in braille, large text and audio; audio can be transcribed into text; and video can be captioned or transcribed into text.
The expense to add or adapt communication products to make them accessible during the election is an accessibility expense.
The campaign produces a video promoting the candidate for $1,000. The production cost includes captioning that makes the video accessible to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. The video would have cost $900 to produce without the captions. As a result, the financial agent reports an election expense of $900 and an accessibility expense of $100 ($1,000 – $900).
Construction and renovation
Some buildings do not have level access or may be temporarily inaccessible to persons with a mobility impairment. The campaign might construct a temporary ramp for their campaign office to provide wheelchair access or make other renovations that provide access to persons with a disability.
The expense for construction or renovations to make material or an activity accessible during the election is an accessibility expense.
The campaign office is in a building that has three steps before the entrance. To make the office accessible to wheelchair users, the campaign hires a contractor to build a wooden ramp. The cost of materials and labour is $300. This is an accessibility expense.