The Municipal Elections Act now includes a framework for third party advertising which came into effect on April 1, 2018, to ensure the new rules are in place for the 2018 Municipal Election.
The regulations have been introduced to manage unregulated third party advertising that has been increasing during the past several municipal elections.
Corporations and trade unions cannot contribute to muncipal election campaigns (candidates) for City/Regional Council and school board elections.
A third party advertisement is a message in any medium (billboard, newspaper, radio, social media advertisement, etc.) that supports or opposes a candidate on the election ballot. It is also an advertisement message in any medium that supports or opposes a Yes/No referendum question on the ballot.
It will now become an offence for any third party advertiser to incur any expense on third party advertising during the restricted election period if they are not registered with the Clerk of the municipality, or municipalities in cases of more than one, where the advertising occurred. Registration allows a third party advertiser to promote or oppose any candidate that the electors in the municipality can vote for including Regional Council, local municipal Council and school board trustees.
Third party advertising does not include advocacy or issues-based advertising so groups that do public outreach can continue their work throughout the election period. As well, advertising that does not cost money to post or broadcast, such as comments made on social media, are not considered to be third party advertising.
Please become familiar with the Ontario Municipal Council and School Board Elections Guide for Third Party Advertisers.
Third Party Advertiser Eligibility
Only individuals, corporations and unions can register as third party advertisers and/or make contributions to third party advertisers, as they are not permitted to make contributions to candidates. Third party advertising must be done independently of candidates, who are not able to direct a third party advertiser.
Eligible to File
- An individual who is normally a resident of Ontario
- Corporations that conduct business in Ontario
- Unions who have bargaining rights for employees in Ontario
Not Eligible to File
- A registered candidate of the municipal election
- A Federal political party, association or registered candidate
- A Provincial political party, association or registered candidate
- The Crown
- A Municipality or Local Board
Third party advertisers must register with each municipality where they intend to advertise should there be multiple municipalities.
- Third party advertisers must file a notice of registration with the City Clerk in person or by agent by completing the Notice of Registration - Third Party (Form 7)
- Include their name, name of third party advertiser, address and date on a registration form, which is available in the City Clerk's Office
- Sign a declaration of qualification
Registration period: May 1, 2018 - October 19, 2018
Mandatory Information on Advertisements
Third party advertisements must contain:
- Name of registered third party advertiser
- Municipality where the third party advertiser is registered
- Contact information for the third party advertiser (phone number, mailing address, or email address)
Information to be provided to Broadcasters/Publishers
Third party advertisers must provide broadcasters/publishers doing the third party advertising with the following information in writing:
- Name of the registered third party advertiser
- Municipality where the third party advertiser is registered
- Name, address and phone number of the agent/person interacting with the broadcaster/publisher on behalf of the third party advertiser
- Ensure the third party advertiser is aware of changes for third party advertisers as media outlets now have certain obligations under the Municipal Elections Act (e.g. must retain records of the above, copy of advertisement or means of reproducing it, etc.)
Information FOR Broadcasters & Publishers
Broadcasters and publishers have new responsibilities related to the campaign advertisements of candidates and third party advertisers. The campaign period begins on May 1 and ends on December 31, 2018.
Advertisements by candidates or third party advertisers:
If a candidate is advertising, you must collect in writing:
- the candidate's name
- the name, business address and telephone number of the individual who deals with the broadcaster or publisher under the direction of the candidate (Note: this individual may be the candidate themselves)
If a registered third party is advertising, you must collect in writing:
- the name of the registered third party (Note: this may be the name of an individual, a corporation, or a trade union)
- the municipality where the third party is registered
- the name, business address and telephone number of the individual who deals with the broadcaster or publisher under the direction of the registered third party
You must not broadcast or publish any campaign advertising without recording this information. Broadcasters and publishers must maintain records of:
- the information collected in writing
- a copy of the advertisement (or the means of reproducing the advertisement for inspection)
- a statement of the charge made for its appearance
These records must be kept for four (4) years after the date the advertisement appears. The public must be permitted to inspect the records.
Third party advertising is restricted from the start of the campaign period on May 1, 2018 until the close of voting on October 22, 2018. Broadcasters and publishers are not required to collect information or retain records for advertisements that appear before May 1, 2018.
Read the guide for third party advertisers to learn about the rules.
Campaign Finance Rules and Third Party Advertisers
The formula for third party advertising general spending limit is: $5,000 plus five cents ($0.05) per elector to a maximum of $25,000.
The spending limit for parties and expressions of appreciation after voting closes is 10% of the general spending limit.
Candidates are permitted access into apartment buildings, condominiums, non-profit housing co-ops and gated communities from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. in order to campaign.
Landlords and condominium corporations will not be allowed to prohibit tenants or owners from displaying campaign signs in their windows.
Candidates and third party advertisers are required to identify themselves on campaign advertisements and signs, so that it is clear who is responsible for each sign and advertisement that appears or is broadcast. For example: "This ad is brought to you by 'John Doe,' 'Corporation Name' or 'Union Name.'"