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Estimated Cost of the 44th General Election

Estimated cost of the 44th general election

The estimated cost of the 44th federal general election is $630 million or approximately $22.90 for each registered elector. The costs associated with delivering a general election typically span four years and include expenditures incurred well after election day, such as reimbursements for parties and candidates. Most of the cost for the 44th general election will be incurred in fiscal year 2021-2022. As of January 31, 2022, over 80% of the estimated costs have been incurred.

We will update these estimates as required until all related expenditures have been received and processed, which will then confirm the final cost of the general election.

The estimated cost of the 44th general election is broken down into two main categories: expenditures related to preparing for, delivering, and closing out the election; and reimbursements to parties and candidates for eligible election expenses.

Estimated Cost of the 44th General Election

Estimates (as of January 31, 2022)

Election day Sep. 20, 2021
Electoral calendar 36 days
Number of electoral districts 338
Number of electors on final list of electors 27,509,158
Preparation, conduct and post-event activities1 $563.3 million
Reimbursement of election expenses to parties and candidates (includes subsidies to candidates' auditors)2 $66.7 million3
Total estimated cost $630.0 million
Estimated cost per elector $22.90

Comparing the costs of the 43rd and 44th general elections

Any comparison of the election costs for the 43rd (2019) and 44th (2021) general elections must account for the fact that those of the 43rd are almost final, whereas those of the 44th are estimates and subject to change over time. Certain key figures are also different.

Comparing the Costs of the 43rd and 44th General Election
  43rd general election October 21, 2019 44th general election September 20, 2021 Difference (increase / decrease)
Election period 40 days 36 days 4 days (decrease)
Number of registered parties 21 22 1 (increase)
Number of confirmed candidates 2,146 2,010 136 (decrease)
Number of registered electors 27,373,058 27,509,158 136,100 (increase)
Estimated cost $500.8 million $630.0 million* $129.2 million (increase)
Estimated cost (in constant dollars) $514.3 million $630.0 million* $115.7 million (increase)

*Estimate as of January 31, 2022.

The difference between the estimated cost of the 2021 and 2019 elections can be explained as follows:

Difference between the Estimated Cost of the 2021 and 2019 Elections
Cost increase / decrease of 2021 election vs. 2019 election Source of increase or decrease Explanation
$44.7 million (increase) Field offices and personnel (incl. increased rates of pay for field workers) To improve services in the field, pay rates of poll and other field workers were increased and overtime provisions were introduced in the Federal Elections Fees Tariff. Also includes changes to the staffing model, and offices and polls operations and maintenance.
$42.0 million (increase) Pandemic measures In 2021, the election took place during the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure that Canadians were safely able to exercise their democratic rights to vote and be a candidate, Elections Canada made many changes to its operations.
$13.9 million (increase) Inflation Adjusting costs for inflation (2019 to 2021 dollars) results in an increased cost estimate for the 2021 election.
$12.8 million (increase) IT infrastructure Elections Canada upgraded IT equipment, systems and Web hosting services.
$11.4 million (increase) Readiness cost due to timing of election During minority governments, the level of readiness is higher and the duration of readiness is longer, due to the need to be prepared to conduct a federal election at any time.
$11.2 million (increase) Elections Canada headquarters Elections Canada hired extra resources to support field services, the distribution centre, recruitment, compensation, auditing, and other services across the agency.
$6.8 million (decrease) Shorter calendar length The election period was 36 days in 2021 and 40 days in 2019; it was preceded by the early opening of local offices. The shorter period in 2021 resulted in decreased costs for the delivery of the election.
Total: $129.2 million (Equivalent to $115.7 million on a constant basis of 2021)

On a constant basis of 2021 dollars, the cost per elector increased by 22% from $18.79 in 2019 to $22.90 (estimated) in 2021.

Footnotes

1 Includes costs to recruit, and train returning officers and more than 195,000 election workers along with costs for their service fees; to print ballots and lists of electors; to lease local offices and polling places; to replenish and ship election materials; to run communications campaigns; to hire temporary staff; and to procure and deploy IT equipment and telecommunications.

2 To be eligible for partial reimbursement of election expenses, candidates must be elected or obtain at least 10% of the valid votes cast in their electoral district. Registered parties must obtain at least 2% of the valid votes cast nationally or 5% of the valid votes cast in electoral districts where the party has endorsed candidates.

3 This amount remains an estimate until all the audits of election expenses and contributions reports are finalized.