Campaign Spending Limits
The Election Finances Act has recently been amended by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The changes were enacted by Bill 2 on December 5, 2016. Please be advised that some material in the current Elections Ontario handbooks and guidelines for chief financial officers is no longer up to date. Elections Ontario will be issuing updated handbooks and guidelines in 2017.
All political entities except third parties must respect certain spending limits during a campaign period. These spending limits are detailed in the Election Finances Act.
Spending limits are based on the number of electors in an electoral district, multiplied by a dollar amount. The dollar amount is revised every five years. The amounts shown below are for January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2018.
Anything that you or your political entity buys that is related to an election—whether it is an item or service—counts as part of the spending limit. The item or service must be purchased during the campaign period to count. There are some exceptions for each political entity, which can be found in the CFO Handbook for that entity.
During a campaign period the spending limit for candidates and constituency associations is shared. That means that the total expenses of the candidate, the candidate’s campaign and the constituency association cannot exceed the spending limit. The current limit is $1.28 for each elector in the electoral district.
Candidates and constituency associations located in the electoral districts of Algoma-Manitoulin, Kenora-Rainy River, Nickel Belt, Thunder Bay-Atikokan, Thunder Bay-Superior North, Timiskaming-Cochrane, and Timmins-James Bay are granted an additional $9,310 for their spending limit.
For more information, see the CFO Handbook for Candidates and the CFO Handbook for Constituency Associations.
• Research and polling
• Travel expenses
• Expenses from seeking nomination
• Expenses that are from a candidate with disabilities and that are directly related to the candidate’s disabilities
• Auditor and accounting fees
• Interest on loans
• Expenses from holding a fundraising activity
• “Victory parties” held and “thank you” advertising published after polling day
• Administration of the political party or constituency association
• Maintaining a credit card facility
• Expenses related to a recount
• A candidate’s child care expenses
Candidates who receive at least 15 per cent of the popular vote in their electoral district are eligible for a campaign expense subsidy. The subsidy is the lesser of 20 per cent of their spending limit expenses or 20 per cent of the expense limit in that electoral district.
Political parties whose candidates receive at least 15 per cent of the popular vote in an electoral district are also eligible to receive a subsidy. It is calculated on $0.05 per elector for each eligible electoral district.
The cost of an auditor’s services for the examination and reporting on financial statements may also be subsidized by Elections Ontario. We will pay the lesser of the total auditor’s fee and an indexed amount. The indexed amount is amended every five years. For the 2014–2018 period, it is $1,596 for political party financial statements, $798 for constituency association financial statements, $1,330 for candidate campaign financial statements and $1,064 for leadership contestants.