Political Financing Handbook for Candidates and Official Agents (EC 20155) – July 2021
17. Reimbursements and Subsidies
This chapter explains who is eligible for reimbursements or subsidies that Elections Canada distributes after election day and how the amounts are calculated. It covers the following topics:
- Reimbursement of expenses and candidate's return of overpayments
- Auditor's subsidy
Reimbursements and overpayments
Who is eligible to receive a reimbursement?
The Canada Elections Act provides for a partial reimbursement of paid election expenses and certain other expenses if the conditions for reimbursement are met.
A candidate's campaign is eligible for reimbursement if the candidate:
- was elected or received at least 10% of the valid votes, and
- filed the Candidate's Electoral Campaign Return, the auditor's report and the Checklist for Audits within the original or extended filing deadline
What is reimbursable?
The electoral campaign expenses listed below are reimbursable. They must have been paid from specific sources, as indicated below for each category, to be reimbursed.
|Expense category||Paid from||Reimbursement rate||Maximum reimbursement|
|Election expenses||Campaign bank account||60%||60% of the election expenses limit in the electoral district|
||Campaign bank account, candidate's own funds or another source of funds||90%||No maximum|
||Campaign bank account or candidate's own funds||60%||$3,000 (60% of $5,000, which is the limit set by the Chief Electoral Officer for these expenses)|
||Campaign bank account or candidate's own funds||60%||$120 (60% of $200, which is the limit set by the Chief Electoral Officer for these expenses)|
|Travel and living expenses for use during the election period||Campaign bank account or candidate's own funds||60%||No maximum|
|Accessibility expenses||Campaign bank account||90%||$5,000|
Reduction of reimbursement amount
If the candidate's election expenses exceeded the election expenses limit, the reimbursement amount is reduced as follows:
- by one dollar for every dollar that exceeds the limit by less than 5%
- by two dollars for every dollar that exceeds the limit by 5% or more but by less than 10%
- by three dollars for every dollar that exceeds the limit by 10% or more but by less than 12.5%
- by four dollars for every dollar that exceeds the limit by 12.5% or more
How the reimbursement is paid
Elections Canada authorizes the reimbursement in two installments:
- Initial reimbursement: After election day, once it is confirmed that the candidate received at least 10% of the valid votes or was elected, an installment amounting to 15% of the election expenses limit is paid.
- Final reimbursement: After Elections Canada auditors have reviewed the candidate's return and confirmed that it complies with the Canada Elections Act, any remaining amount is paid.
The reimbursement cheque is payable to the official agent and must be deposited into the campaign bank account.
If the candidate, another person or group paid some of the candidate's personal expenses other than through the campaign bank account:
- the official agent must send the candidate the reimbursement (60% or 90%) related to those personal expenses
- this can be done after the initial or final reimbursement, but in any case the official agent must set aside enough of the reimbursement to repay the candidate
Note: The official agent may designate another person or entity (for example, the registered party) to receive the initial and final reimbursements by submitting an assignment agreement to Elections Canada. The designee should then send the candidate the reimbursement of personal expenses described above.
Returning an overpayment
If the total of expenses eligible for reimbursement is less than the initial reimbursement, the official agent is responsible for returning the overpayment to Elections Canada by cheque from the campaign bank account, payable to the Receiver General for Canada.
Once Elections Canada completes the review of the candidate's return, it will inform the official agent about the amount to be returned.
The candidate's election expenses limit was $100,000 for the recent election. Because the candidate received 10% of the valid votes, the first installment of the reimbursement is issued. The amount is 15% of $100,000—that is, $15,000. However, the candidate's expenses eligible for reimbursement were only $7,000 at 60% ($4,200) and $1,500 at 90% ($1,350). The candidate is entitled to receive a reimbursement of $5,550.
The official agent has to return the difference between the reimbursement payment and the eligible amount ($15,000 – $5,550 = $9,450) to Elections Canada by issuing a cheque from the campaign bank account, payable to the Receiver General for Canada.
If an amended candidate's return is filed with Elections Canada after the initial return is filed, and the amount of expenses eligible for reimbursement increases as a result of the amendment, the candidate may qualify for an additional payment. However, this reimbursement is paid only if the candidate qualified for the initial reimbursement.
A candidate's campaign that needs to file an auditor's report will receive a subsidy for audit fees. Elections Canada pays the subsidy directly to the auditor once it has:
- received the Candidate's Electoral Campaign Return, auditor's report, Checklist for Audits and a copy of the auditor's invoice
- reviewed the candidate's return
How the subsidy is calculated
The auditor's subsidy is calculated as follows:
- the amount indicated on the auditor's invoice to a maximum of $2,253* or 3% of the candidate's election expenses—whichever is less
- a minimum of $375.50*
*These amounts have been adjusted for inflation from the base amounts of $1,500 and $250. They are in effect for elections held between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.
Note: If the auditor's subsidy is less than the total fee charged by the auditor, the difference is an other electoral campaign expense, and the candidate's campaign is responsible for paying the remaining amount.
The official agent submits the auditor's invoice for $500 with the Candidate's Electoral Campaign Return and other required documents. The total amount of the candidate's election expenses is $7,200. The auditor is entitled to receive 3% of that amount as a subsidy payment. However, 3% of $7,200 ($216) is less than the minimum amount payable. Accordingly, Elections Canada will authorize payment of the minimum amount of $375.50.
The official agent has to pay the remaining $124.50 to the auditor from campaign funds or arrange to have the registered association or party pay the fee on behalf of the campaign.