On November 30, 2017, amendments to the Election Act (EA), and the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act (LECFA), came into force, which prohibit unions and corporations from contributing to provincial and municipal elections, among other changes (Amendments).

The notable changes to the EA and LECFA include the following:

Amendment EA LECFA
Pay per Charge Events
  • Only by eligible individuals
  • Charges greater than $50 constitute a political contribution
  • Not in private residence
  • Only by eligible individuals
  • Charges greater than $50 constitute a campaign contribution
Political and Campaign Contributions
  • Only by eligible individuals
  • Indirect contributions continue to be prohibited
  • Only by eligible individuals
  • Indirect contributions prohibited
Sponsorship Contributions
  • Only by eligible individuals
  • Indirect contributions continue to be prohibited
  • Only by eligible individuals
  • Indirect contributions prohibited
Political and Campaign Contribution Limits
  • $1,200 for 2018
  • For 2019 and subsequent years, amount established by chief electoral officer, related to consumer price index
  • $1,200 for contributions in relation to the 2018 general local election
  • For 2019 and subsequent years, amount in accordance with regulations, or and amount determined by chief electoral officer related to the consumer price index
Excess Contributions
  • Contributions must be reviewed by financial agent of recipient
  • Amounts in excess of the contribution limit must be returned
  • Contributions must be reviewed by financial agent of elector organization
  • Amounts in excess of the contribution limit must be returned
Expense Limits
  • Reduced
  • Regulations forthcoming
Third-Party Sponsors
  • Can receive permissible loans
  • Can receive permissible loans from eligible individuals
Third-Party Sponsorship Limits
  • $1,200 for 2018
  • For 2019 and subsequent years, amount established by chief electoral officer, related to consumer price index
 
Permissible Loans
  • Can be made to candidates, elector organizations, and third-party sponsors
  • Must be at market value
  • Only by savings institutions
  • Must be paid promptly and lender must make commercially reasonable collection efforts
  • Can be made to a political party, constituency association, candidate, leadership contestant, nomination contestant, or third-party sponsors
  • Must be at market value
  • Must be disclosed
  • Financial agent must collect specified information
  • Only by eligible individuals or savings institutions
  • Must be paid promptly and lender must make commercially reasonable collection efforts
Penalties
  • Discretionary monetary penalties
Application and In-Force Dates
  • Majority of amendments in force as of November 30, 2017
  • Do not apply to by-elections and assent voting prior to the 2018 general local elections
  • Retroactive to October 31, 2017, in relation to the 2018 general local elections

Banning corporate and union contributions in government elections helps respond to criticism that organizations unduly influence government policymaking. Organizations or individuals that breach the campaign finance laws may be fined up to $20,000 and imprisoned under the LECFA, and may be fined up to $10,000, imprisoned, and prohibited from holding office under the EA.

Organizations that have made contributions to the 2018 provincial or municipal elections should seek legal advice on whether contributions conform to the new campaign finance laws. They should also update their governance policies, and inform the relevant people in their organization about the Amendments.