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Reforming Municipal Elections in Ontario

Archived Backgrounder

Reforming Municipal Elections in Ontario

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

A bill introduced in the Ontario Legislature today would, if passed, streamline local government elections.

The proposed legislative changes would:

  • make local elections more transparent, accountable and efficient.
  • create a more level playing field for all candidates.
  • promote greater accessibility for voters and candidates with disabilities.
  • apply to the election of municipal officials and school board trustees.

Proposed Reforms

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • move the election date forward to the fourth Monday of October (October 25, 2010).
  • improve the accuracy of voters' lists by providing the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation and municipalities with potential access to additional information.
  • require voters to provide identification at a voting place.
  • ensure that each voting place is accessible to voters with disabilities.

The financing of municipal elections would be reformed through these measures:

  • a new contribution limit of $5,000 per contributor in each jurisdiction, in addition to the existing limit of $750 per candidate.
  • for future elections, candidates would not be able to keep surplus campaign funds - surpluses instead would go to municipalities.
  • expenses related to a candidate's disability would be campaign expenses excluded from candidate's spending limit.

If the legislation passes, there would be strengthened compliance and enforcement measures:

  • a firm deadline for filing financial statements.
  • municipalities and school boards required to appoint audit committees to hear and decide on applications for compliance audits.
  • strengthened penalties for contravention of the Act (up to $25,000 fine for individuals and up to $50,000 for corporations and trade unions).


Stakeholders and the general public were consulted as part of a review of the 2006 municipal election and the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.

The Act is reviewed after each municipal election.

To learn more about the proposed reforms see Schedule 21 of the proposed Good Government Act.

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