Information about contributions to candidates and the contribution rebate program.
Candidates must make a reasonable effort to ensure a contributor is entitled to make contributions. Election Services cannot provide definitions or legal advice on any legislation.
Candidate's financial statements, including the names and addresses of contributors who contributed over $100, are posted on the City's website.
Candidates running for mayor or councillor cannot accept any contributions from corporations or trade unions as per By-law 1177-2009.
- Definition of campaign contributions
- What are not contributions
- Contribution limit
- Contributions to multiple candidates
- Contributions of goods and services
- Acceptable contributions
- Accepting campaign contributions
- Corporations (school board trustee candidates only)
- Ineligible contributions
- Contribution disclosure
- Contribution receipts
- Refund of contributions
- Borrowing and lending
s66 of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996
Campaign contributions are monies, goods or services given to a candidate for his or her election campaign.
- monetary contribution*
- value of goods and services
- the full admission price for a fund-raising function
- the difference between the amount paid and the market value of a good or service sold at a fund-raising function
- the difference between the amount paid and the market value of a good or service purchased for the campaign
- any unpaid but guaranteed balance of a campaign loan
*Cash contributions can only be up to $25. Any contributions over $25 must be made by cheque, money order or credit card.
The following are not contributions:
- voluntary unpaid labour
- services provided voluntarily by employees provided they do not receive any additional compensation from their employer
- $10 or less donated at a fund-raising function
- free political advertising provided it is done in accordance with the provisions, regulations and guidelines of the Broadcasting Act (Canada) and is available to all candidates
- the amount of a campaign loan obtained by the candidate or his or her spouse
The maximum amount a person can give to any one candidate (either in money, good or services), regardless of the number of offices the candidate is nominated for during the election period, is
- $2,500 for mayoralty candidates
- $750 for councillor or trustee candidates
Note: candidates using the Electronic Financial Filing System (EFFS) can link multiple contributions to one contributor. The system will alert the candidate if the contributor has exceeded the contribution limit.
s71(2.1) of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996
A person may give contributions to multiple candidates, however; there is a limit on how much the person can give to all candidates in each election.
- a person can give a total of $5,000 to all candidates running for Toronto Council (mayor and councillor), and
- a person can give a total of $5,000 to school board trustees running in the same jurisdiction.
For example, a person who contributes $2,500 to a mayoral candidate and $750 each to three candidates running for councillor will have a total contribution of $4,750. This person may still contribute a maximum of $250 to any other candidates running for mayor or councillor. This person can also give a total of $5,000 to as many candidates as they wish on each of the four school boards.
s70(2) of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996
Contributions can only be accepted during the campaign period.
Any contributions accepted outside the campaign period must be returned to the contributor, or if this is not possible, the amount must be turned over to the Clerk.
Contributions received after the end of the campaign period may be deposited as long as the envelope it was received in is postmarked prior to the end of the campaign period.
All contributions of goods or services are subject to the contribution limit ($2,500 for mayoralty candidates and $750 for councillor or school trustee candidates) and the $5,000 contributor maximum.
All contributions of goods or services the candidate receives are considered contributions and should be supported by an invoice from the contributor. If part of the goods or service is a contribution, the invoice should reflect the total amount of the good or service, the amount of the contribution and the remaining amount the candidate is to pay.
If a supplier offers the good or service less than market value, the difference between the amount charged and the market value is a contribution and a receipt must be issued to the supplier.
If the supplier does not accept payment for the goods or services, the non-payment is a contribution of a good and service and a receipt must be issued to the supplier.
Note: If the supplier is a corporation, candidates running for mayor or councillor cannot accept the contribution.
- the following are not contributions:
- services donated by people acting on a volunteer basis
- an employer who makes employees available (who have volunteered their time) to work on a campaign and who does not pay extra for this work
- the following is a contribution:
- an employer who makes employees available (who have volunteered their time) to work on a campaign and pays them extra for this work (in addition to their regular wage), the amount of the extra wage is a contribution and is subject to the contribution limit
For mayor or councillor candidates
- acceptable contributions are from:
- individuals living in Ontario
- a candidate and his or her spouse
Note: The City of Toronto by-law prohibits corporations or trade unions from making a contribution to or for any candidate for an office on Toronto City Council. The by-law makes these contributions an offence and the maximum penalty is $50,000 fine for the corporation or trade unions, if convicted.
For school board trustee candidates
- acceptable contributions for candidates running for school board trustee are from:
- individuals living in Ontario
- corporations that carry on a business in Ontario
- unions that hold bargaining rights for employees in Ontario
- a candidate and his or her spouse
Only a candidate and the person(s) authorized by the candidate may accept campaign contributions. Contributions of money up to $25 can be accepted in cash. Any contributions over $25 must be made by cheque, money order or credit card.
s72 of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996
To be eligible to make a contribution, a corporation must carry on business in Ontario. Prior to accepting a corporate donation, a school board trustee candidate must satisfy themselves that the corporation meets this requirement.
Corporations that are associated with one another, as defined by section 256 of the Income Tax Act (Canada), are considered to be a single corporation for the purpose of campaign contributions. Many corporations carry on business through subsidiaries and affiliated companies. Such corporations are deemed to be a single corporation and may only make a maximum contribution of $750.
Not all businesses meet the legal definition of a 'corporation'. LLPs and organizations such as ratepayers groups may not be eligible to contribute to a candidate running for school trustee.
s70(4) of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996
The following may not make contributions to any candidate:
- a federal political party, constituency association or a registered candidate in a federal election
- a provincial political party, constituency association or a registered candidate or leadership contestant
- a federal or provincial government, a municipality or school board
- organizations or corporations that are prohibited by statute or common law from making political contributions such as: charitable organizations or corporations that have been established for charitable purposes and public corporations such as public hospitals, crown agencies, board or commissions
- corporations or trade unions to candidates running for mayor or councillor
All contributions accepted by a candidate must be reported on Schedule 1 of the Financial Statement & Auditor's Report (Form 4). Contributions over $100 will contain the contributor's name and full address. All financial statements are scanned in its entirety and posted on the City's website.
s69(1)(e)of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996
A candidate must issue a receipt for every contribution they receive whether it is money, goods or services. The receipt must show the full value of the contribution.
Only one contributor can be listed on the receipt. If a cheque is from a joint personal bank account the receipt must have the name of the person who signed the cheque. If both contributors signed the cheque, the candidate must determine how much each person contributed and issue a separate receipt for each person.
If a contribution is received on the last day of the campaign period and it cannot be deposited, the candidate must record an outstanding bank deposit and a receipt issued as of that day. Each outstanding deposit should be deposited the next banking day.
Candidates using the Electronic Financial Filing System (EFFS)
- EFFS will produce the appropriate receipt, for example:
- A money contribution from an individual is eligible for a rebate (if the candidate is participating in the City's contribution rebate program). EFFS will generate the rebate application that is provided to the contributor.
- For school board trustee candidates, EFFS will generate a 2 part receipt that shows the date the contribution accepted, amount accepted, contributor's name and full address and a unique receipt number.
- A goods or service contribution is not eligible for a rebate; therefore, EFFS will generate a 2 part receipt that does not incorporate the rebate application.
- If a contributor misplaces his or her receipt, the candidate does not have to create a replacement receipt as EFFS allows the candidate to print additional copies.
- Note: candidates running for mayor or councillor who wish to participate in the City's contribution rebate program must register to use EFFS. Paper copies of the rebate application are not available.
Candidates not using EFFS:
- the candidate may use any type of receipt as long as it shows the contributor's name and address, amount contributed and the date the contribution was made.
- the receipts should be numbered and have duplicate copies so both the candidate and the contributor has a copy.
- if it is necessary to issue a replacement receipt, the candidate must cross-reference the two receipts.
s69(1)(m), (n) of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996
If a candidate learns a contribution has been made or accepted in contravention of the Act, the candidate must return the contribution. If the contribution cannot be returned, the candidate must pay the amount to the Clerk.
A candidate is required to refund contributions when they are:
- received outside the campaign period
- from an anonymous contributor (except 'pass the hat' contributions)
- from ineligible sources (for example, individuals who do not live in Ontario)
- over the allowable contribution limit ($2,500 for mayoralty candidates and $750 for councillor or school trustee candidates) or the $5,000 contributor limit
- cash contributions over $25
- funds not belonging to the contributor
Candidates must reflect the refund in their records and on the financial statement.
Fundraising functions are events or activities for the purpose of raising money for a candidate's campaign. The event or activity can only be held during the candidate's campaign period.
Types of events
There can be events where an admission charge applies. Examples of these events are dinners, dances, garden parties, etc.
There can also be events where there is no admission charge. Example of these events are auctions, button sales, etc.
The full amount of the admission charge is a contribution and a receipt must be given to the person purchasing the ticket. Remember, any admission charges over $25 cannot be paid in cash. If the price of the event is over $100, the person's name and address must be listed on the candidate's financial statement.
What is not a fund-raiser
- Events or activities that are held to promote public awareness of a candidate, even though the candidate may receive contributions from them
- Promotional materials where seeking contributions is secondary
s75(1) (2) of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996
A candidate or their spouse may borrow money for campaign purposes only from a chartered bank or other recognized lending institution. Only the candidate and his or her spouse may guarantee a loan for campaign purposes. Any unpaid guaranteed balance of a loan is considered to be a contribution.
The full amount of the loan must be paid directly into the campaign account.
s94 to 94.1(2) of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996
An individual, including the candidate, who contravenes any provisions of the Act is liable to a fine of up to $25,000 and/or up to six years imprisonment, on conviction.
A corporation or trade union that contravenes any provisions of the Act is liable to a fine of up to $50,000, on conviction.
A corporation or trade union that contravenes the City of Toronto By-law 1177-2009, is liable of fines up to $50,000, on conviction.