It's election season in Ontario!
Blog Post by: RaeChelle-Faith Hamilton, Associate
Elections bring lots of opportunities for charities & nonprofits to engage in advocacy, but it's important to keep in mind what you can and cannot do! We are here to help you navigate these rules, feel free to reach out: Contact Us!
In Ontario, there are new guidelines for any "third party" (including nonprofits, charities) who intend to advertise.
For any Canadian charity, there is specific guidance on what you can and cannot do during an election period.
Do you know what your organization can and cannot do?
In Ontario, nonprofits or charities which are planning to advertise on issues that could be seen as political have new rules to follow: rules of engagement. Specifically, the most recent changes to the Third Party Election Advertising rules.
For any Canadian CRA certified charity, there are specific rules about what is permitted during election periods. For more information see this Imagine Canada article from 2021 (although it is referring to the federal election, the rules regarding partisan politics still apply in provincial elections as well)
The Ontario Nonprofit Network has numerous, up-to-date advocacy resources specific to our sector and freely available! I highly recommend the ONN 2019 Advocacy Tipsheet on learning how your nonprofit can successfully influence public policy through advocacy.
See pages 7-9 of the ONN Election Advocacy Toolkit to see if the Act applies to your nonprofit or charity.
The ONN Election 2022 Toolkit is a great companion for navigating third party election advertising rules this election season.
Here's a quick summary:
For nonprofits spending $500 or more on political advertising (whether it is issue-based or partisan-based) in the regulated non-election period and/or in the election period:
● Pass a board resolution authorizing the nonprofit to incur expenses related to political advertising.
● Appoint an individual to act as “Chief Financial Officer” (CFO) for the purposes of the Election Finances Act
● Open a new bank account at an
approved financial institution.
● Deposit all eligible contributions (see below) in that bank account.
● Register as a third party with Elections Ontario by filing a Third Party Registration and Change Notice Form (TP-1).
● Include in all political advertis
ing an authorization statement, such as “Authorized by Nonprofit XYZ”.
Special rules apply for nonprofit
s spending (or intending to spend) $5,000 or more on political advertising, and also require the appointment of an auditor. Please visit page 10 of the toolkit to find out more.
● Don’t Exceed Your Spending Limit
● Don’t intentionally “collude” wit
h other third parties to avoid the spending limits
● Don’t Accept Ineligible Contributions
● Don’t intentionally or unintentionally “collude” with candidates, leaders and parties
There are special and very complex rules for accepting contributions from unincorporated associations and organizations. Please review these rules with a lawyer before accepting any contributions from unincorporated associations and organizations.
Please visit pages 11-12 of the toolkit for more information on Election 2022 Don’ts!