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Electors of Îles-de-la-Madeleine
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Understanding political financing

Definition of election expenses

Summary

The cost of any good or service used during an election period, particularly for directly or indirectly promoting or opposing the election of a candidate or party candidates, is considered an election expense.

Provincial

In this section

Definition: election expense

Any initiative that has a cost, a partisan effect and that occurs during the election period is considered an election expense, including websites, events, advertising, and election signage. An initiative is considered to have a partisan effect if:

  • It directly or indirectly promotes or opposes the election of a candidate or candidates of a party
  • It promotes or opposes a platform or policy of a candidate or party
  • It approves or disapproves of acts performed by a party or a candidate

Election expenses must:

  • Be authorized by the official agent of a party or candidate
  • Be valued at their fair market value
  • Fall into one of the following categories: publicity, goods and services, rental of premises, travel and meal expenses
  • Be paid by the official agent from the election fund made available by the official representative

Social Media

During an election period, a Facebook post or Twitter tweet usually doesn’t cost anything. This type of advertisement is not considered election expenses. However, if a political party produces material with a partisan effect, such as a video, and relays it on social media, the costs associated with its production (purchase of images or photos, filming or editing costs) may be considered election expenses.

Limit of election expenses

Maximum amounts

The Election Act stipulates that a candidate’s election expenses are limited based on a maximum amount per elector in the electoral division in which they are running. A party’s election expenses are limited to a maximum amount per elector in all electoral divisions where that party has an official candidate.

Annual indexing

The election expenses limit is indexed on April 1 of each year, based on the change in the average consumer price index as established by Statistics Canada (Election Act, section 426).

  • The change in the average consumer price index was around 3.8% in Québec in 2021.

During an election period

During by-elections, the official agent of an authorized political party cannot incur election expenses. Consequently, the limit on the election expenses of a candidate in an electoral division is increased in order to take into account the limit that would normally have been allocated to the party.

Limit of election expenses per elector

Reimbursement of election expenses

Eligibility

After the election expenses report is received and verified, 50% of the election expenses incurred and paid are reimbursed, in accordance with the Act, to:

  • Any candidate who was elected or who received at least 15% of the valid votes.
  • Any party that obtained at least 1% of the valid votes.

Maximum amounts

Reimbursable election expenses cannot exceed the limit on election expenses set by the Election Act. Moreover, independent candidates who were not elected cannot claim amounts that exceed debts incurred from their election expenses.

Advance payments

When the voting results are released, candidates eligible for reimbursement may receive an advance on their reimbursement in the amount of 35% of the election expenses limit as established by the Election Act. This advance will only be paid once we have accepted a certified estimate of the amount of election expenses incurred from the official agent of the party.

Methods of reimbursement

Reimbursement of election expenses and the advance payment of any reimbursement must be made by cheque or by transfer of funds to an account held by the official representative.

Municipal

In this section

Definition: election expense

The cost of goods or services used during the election period to promote or oppose a candidate constitutes an election expense. The Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities provides for certain exceptions.

The cost of goods or services used before or after the election period does not constitute an election expense. It therefore does not affect the limit on expenses.

According to the Act, an election expense may be used for:

  • Directly or indirectly promoting or opposing the election of a candidate or candidates of a political party
  • Communicating or opposing the platform or policies of a candidate or party
  • Approving or disapproving of measures advocated or opposed by a candidate or party
  • Approving or disapproving of acts done or proposed to be done by a party, a candidate, or their supporters

Limits on election expenses

To promote fairness among candidates, the Act imposes a limit on election expenses for each position. This limit is based on the number of persons found on the list of electors.

Candidates elected unopposed

At of the end of nomination period, the official agent of a candidate elected without opposition may no longer incur or authorize expenses for that person.

Reimbursement of election expenses

Eligibility

After receiving and verifying a return of election expenses, the treasurer of the municipality will reimburse 70% of the expenses reported in the return, provided they were incurred and paid in accordance with the Act. To be eligible for such a reimbursement, a candidate needs to meet one of the following criteria:

  • He or she was elected;
  • He or she received at least 15% of the votes cast for the seat he or she was seeking.

In the case of expenses incurred by an authorized political party, the reimbursement is sent to the official representative. The criteria set out above apply to each candidate of a party.

As of the fifth day following the poll, an advance of 50% may be paid out on such a reimbursement, provided certain conditions are met.

Maximum amount

The amount of an election expense reimbursement may not exceed the election expense limit established in the Act. Furthermore, in the case of an authorized independent candidate, the amount of the reimbursement may not exceed the sum of his or her personal contribution and any debts arising from his or her election expenses.

School

In this section

Definition of an election expense

According to the Act respecting school elections to elect certain members of the boards of directors of English-language school service centres, an election expense is the cost of any goods or services used during the election period for:

  • Directly or indirectly promoting or opposing the election of a candidate
  • Communicating or opposing a candidate's platform
  • Approving or disapproving of measures advocated or opposed by a candidate
  • Approving or disapproving of acts done, or proposed, by a candidate

Any reference to the Act respecting school elections to elect certain members of the boards of directors of English-language school service centres refers to the provisions of the Act respecting school elections that were in force prior to the adoption of Bill 40 and that were adapted to reflect the repeal of the electoral process in French-language school service centres.

The election period begins on the 44th day before polling day and ends on polling day at the closing of polling stations.

Election expenses must be paid out of the election fund, be authorized by the candidate, and be recorded on their election expense return.

Types of election expenses

Certain expenses incurred during the election period may constitute election expenses:

  • Publicity
  • Goods and services
  • Rental of space
  • Travel and meals

Publicity expenses are generally the most frequent and the largest part of an election campaign budget. All election expenses must be substantiated by an invoice.

Limits on election expenses

The total amount of election expenses must not exceed the limit established by the Act.

Check the limits on election expenses

Reimbursement of election expenses

Following a review of the authorized candidate’s financial reports, the Director General of the English-language school board will, from the general fund of the school board, reimburse a portion of the election expenses incurred, in accordance with the Act, to any candidate who:

  • Was elected
  • Obtained at least 15% of the votes cast in the election

An authorized candidate is also entitled to reimbursement when the election procedure must be resumed following the death of a candidate.

Amount of the reimbursement

The amount of the reimbursement is determined according to rules prescribed by regulation of the government. The current reimbursement amount is:

  • 75% of the first $500 of election expenses
  • 50% of additional election expenses

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