Home > Municipal > Financing and election expenses (5,000 inh. or more) > Questions and answers on holding elections in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Questions and answers on holding elections in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Québec

See field: school board

The government declared a Québec-wide health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 13, 2020 (Order in Council 177-2020). This declaration has since been renewed, and numerous health guidelines have been issued to ensure the protection of the population. Such measures may be established by an order in council or by a ministerial order issued by the Minister of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux under the Public Health Act (CQLR, c. S-2.2).

On September 30, 2020, the government introduced a colour-coded alert system (Order in Council 1020-2020). Each colour corresponds to a different alert level and set of circumstances: green zone (vigilance), yellow zone (early warning), orange zone (alert) and red zone (maximum alert). Measures may vary based on the alert level in effect.

Municipal by-elections were cancelled and resumed multiple times due to the pandemic. They were initially cancelled on March 14, 2020, the day after the health emergency was declared (Ministerial Order 2020-003). A ban on publishing any further notices of election was also declared. On August 7, 2020, the by-elections that had been cancelled (or that had not been able to start) were resumed (Ministerial Order 2020-055, issued on August 6, 2020). The Minister of the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation set the poll for either October 4 or October 25, 2020, depending on the municipality.

On October 2, 2020, municipalities in the red zone had their advance polls and polling days postponed (Ministerial Order 2020-074). Once again, the order included a ban on the publication of any further notices of election in these municipalities. These measures were lifted on October 27, 2020 (Ministerial Order 2020-084), allowing by-elections to resume in municipalities in the red zone.

After the by-elections were postponed, we began working with the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation and public health authorities to ensure that municipal elections could be conducted safely in the current health situation and to define a health protocol.

The full range of health guidelines, recommendations and new measures have been incorporated into the Health protocol to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during any municipal election, which has been updated since it was first published on August 21, 2020. The health protocol must be applied by all persons concerned. It is designed to protect election officers, candidates and electors.

In response to the current situation, Ministerial Order 2020-084, issued on October 27, 2020 (partially replacing Ministerial Order 2020-060, issued on August 28, 2020), amended certain provisions of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (CQLR, c. E-2.2) for the duration of the health emergency. In particular, the measures imposed by this order affect voting by mail; the days on which advance polls and polling may be held; polling station hours; and the minimum number of signatures required for filing a nomination paper or an application for authorization under political financing rules.

For measures related to political financing, please refer to the section titled Health guidelines governing political financing, below. A summary table also provides further details on applying these guidelines to matters of political financing.

For questions regarding the conduct of polling, please see the page titled Questions and answers concerning the municipalities during the COVID-19 pandemic, prepared by the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation.

Implementation of the health protocol

Issued by the government on September 30, 2020, Order in Council 1020-2020 provides for a series of adjustments to health guidelines based on the COVID-19 alert level in force in the territory of each municipality: green zone (Vigilance), yellow zone (Early Warning), orange zone (Alert) or red zone (Maximum Alert). 

You can visit the Québec.ca website to check your municipality’s alert level, as well as the health guidelines in effect for each alert level.

The Health protocol to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during any municipal election has been adjusted in accordance with these measures.

Health guidelines governing political financing

1. During the COVID-19 pandemic, what health measures apply to activities associated with authorization and political financing?

We have worked with the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation and the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux to develop measures for the conduct of elections during the pandemic. The full range of health guidelines, recommendations and new measures have been incorporated into a Health protocol to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during any municipal election. First released on August 21, 2020, the protocol has since been updated.

In response to the current situation, Ministerial Order 2020-084, issued on October 27, 2020 (partially replacing Ministerial Order 2020-060, issued on August 28, 2020), amended certain provisions of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities for the duration of the health emergency. These amendments are reflected in the protocol.

The measures in force also take into account Order in Council 1020-2020, issued on September 30, 2020, which establishes different rules based on the alert level in force.

With respect to political financing, Ministerial Order 2020-084, issued on October 27, 2020, lowers to 50 the maximum number of supporting signatures that a municipal political party or an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate must collect in order to obtain authorization.

Furthermore, rules governing private gatherings and activities carried out in a public place vary based on the alert level in effect. We call on political entities to comply with the health guidelines issued by public health authorities with respect to indoor and outdoor gatherings: Gatherings and audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more details on applying these measures, please refer to the available summary table.

Authorization

2. I would like to submit an application to have a name reserved for a municipal political party. How do I proceed?

The form for reserving a name is available on the Élections Québec website. You need to complete the form, sign it and send it to us by mail or e-mail. Transmission by e-mail is preferred.

3. I would like to obtain authorization for a municipal political party. How do I proceed?

You need to contact the Register of authorized political entities of Québec (RAPEQ) team by e-mail at repaq@electionsquebec.qc.ca, or by telephone at 418-528-0422 or 1-888-ELECTION (1-888-353-2846). We will send you all the relevant documents by e-mail.

Both the application for authorization form, signed by the leader and the official representative, and the slips bearing the supporting signatures of party members can be returned to us by e-mail. Please retain the submitted documents, as they may be requested if more information is required.

4. I would like to obtain authorization to become an authorized elector in my municipality. How do I proceed?

Both the application for authorization form and the slip for collecting supporting signatures are available on the Élections Québec website. You can also make an appointment with the returning officer of your municipality to obtain a copy. Simply complete and sign the form, attach the supporting signature slips, and send the documents to the returning officer.

Transmission by e-mail is preferred. However, please retain any documents sent by e-mail, as they may be requested if more information is required.

5. I would like to submit an application for authorization as an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate in a municipal election. How many supporting signatures do I need to collect in order to be authorized?

On October 27, 2020, the Minister of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux issued Ministerial Order 2020-084 (partially replacing Ministerial Order 2020-060, issued on August 28, 2020). This order lowers to 50 the maximum number of supporting signatures that an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate must collect in order to be authorized during the health emergency.

Accordingly, an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate for the seat of mayor must collect the following number of supporting signatures:

  • 5, in the case of a municipality or borough with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants;
  • 10, in the case of a municipality or borough with at least 5,000 inhabitants, but fewer than 20,000 inhabitants;
  • 50, in the case of a municipality or borough with 20,000 or more inhabitants.

An elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate for the seat of councillor must collect the same number of supporting signatures as usual, that is to say:

  • 5, in the case of a municipality with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants;
  • 10, in the case of a municipality with at least 5,000 inhabitants, but fewer than 20,000 inhabitants;
  • 25, in the case of a municipality with 20,000 or more inhabitants.

Whenever possible, supporting signatures should be collected remotely. Otherwise, the elector who undertakes to run as a candidate should comply with the health guidelines governing the in-person collection of supporting signatures. These guidelines may vary based on the alert level in effect. See question 8 for more details.

6. As leader, I would like to obtain authorization for my municipal political party. How many supporting signatures do I need to collect in order to obtain authorization?

On October 27, 2020, the Minister of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux issued Ministerial Order 2020-084 (partially replacing Ministerial Order 2020-060, issued on August 28, 2020). This order lowers to 50 the maximum number of supporting signatures that a municipal political party must collect in order to be authorized during the health emergency.

Here is the number of supporting signatures a municipal political party must collect in order to obtain authorization:

  • 25, in the case of a municipality with at least 5,000 inhabitants, but fewer than 50,000 inhabitants;
  • 50, in the case of a municipality with 50,000 or more inhabitants.

Whenever possible, supporting signatures should be collected remotely. Otherwise, the leader and any other person who may solicit supporting signatures should comply with the health guidelines governing the in-person collection of supporting signatures. These guidelines may vary based on the alert level in effect. See question 8 for more details.

7. I am unable to e-mail my application for authorization of an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate. Can I submit it to the returning officer in person?

The returning officer is encouraged to provide remote support in terms of answering questions from persons wishing to submit an application for authorization.

E-mail is the preferred mode of communication, because it reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19. However, you can also make an appointment with the returning officer of your municipality to submit your application for authorization in person, provided you follow all health guidelines in effect.

At this meeting, the returning officer must comply with the following health guidelines:

  • post the applicable health rules at the entrance to the appointment location;
  • encourage the installation of a physical barrier (solid transparent partition) and provide all necessary indication on the ground (direction of traffic, respect for the rule of physical distance of two metres);
  • remind the elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate of the obligation to wear a face cover;
  • provide the elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate with hand disinfectant;
  • avoid handshakes;
  • wear personal protective equipment appropriate to the hazard (a procedural mask and eye protection);
  • disinfect any equipment used (e.g., a chair), both before and after the meeting;
  • avoid sharing an object with the elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate (e.g., a pencil);
  • disinfect hands before and after handling documents;
  • frequently disinfect affected surfaces such as tables, counters, photocopiers and doorknobs.

After obtaining authorization, you can make an appointment with the treasurer of your municipality to receive contribution receipts.

8. Can I go door-to-door as part of my election campaign, in order to collect signatures in support of my application for authorization?

The competent authorities have helped develop a Health protocol to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during any municipal election. In particular, the protocol establishes measures governing the solicitation and collection of signatures in support of an application for authorization. A summary table, available on the Élections Québec website, outlines the application of these guidelines.

In order to limit in-person interactions with electors, Élections Québec recommends that supporting signatures be solicited and collected remotely. A slip for collecting signatures individually is available. Political parties can obtain it by contacting Élections Québec. An elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate can find it on the Élections Québec website (DGE-1028.2). You can e-mail this slip to a person interested in supporting you; the person can then print, sign and scan the slip, before e-mailing it back to you. You should attach any slips collected in this way to your application for authorization, which you can submit by e-mail. Please retain the submitted documents, as they may be requested if more information is required.

* Please note that this option does not apply to the supporting signatures accompanying a nomination paper, which must always be collected in person.

Health guidelines for the in-person solicitation and collection of supporting signatures

A list of health instructions will be provided in anticipation of possible in-person meetings. Political parties must contact us to obtain it. An elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate can find the list of health guidelines on the Élections Québec website.

The list includes the following items:

  • Before meeting with signatories, the soliciting party has ensured that he/she is not in any of the following situations (failing which no in-person solicitation may take place):
    • to be back from a trip abroad for less than 14 days.
    • to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and still be considered a carrier of the disease.
    • to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.
    • to have been in contact with a suspected, probable, or confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
    • to be awaiting a COVID-19 test result.
  • The soliciting party has been made aware of the greater risk of contracting a severe form of the disease for people 70 years of age and older, people with a chronic disease, or people with a weakened immune system.
  • An appointment has been made with the signatory in a specific location that limits gatherings and allows for following the guidelines corresponding to the alert level in force.
    • In the green, yellow or orange zone: 
      • in a public place that allows for compliance with applicable hygiene and physical distancing rules, such as a municipal library;
      • outdoors;
      • behind the wheel of a car;
      • in a private residence;

        Please note that under the orange alert level, you are prohibited from visiting residential and long-term care centres for the purpose of soliciting.

    • In the red zone:
      • behind the wheel of a car;
      • in a private residence. In this case, soliciting party is invited to make an appointment with the signatory and to remain outside the signatory’s domicile, while following the relevant hygiene and physical distancing rules.

        Please note that under the red alert level, you are prohibited from visiting residential long-term care centres, private seniors’ residences or intermediate and family-type resources providing housing under the Support Program for the Autonomy of Seniors, for the purpose of soliciting.

Furthermore, soliciting party should:

  • allow sufficient time for each of the signatories, so that they are not gathered in the same place;
  • provide disinfectant so the signatory can disinfect his or her hands both before and after handling any forms;
  • wear a face covering, in accordance with the health guidelines in force;
  • invite the signatory to wear a face covering, in accordance with the health guidelines in force;
  • invite the signatory to use his or her own pen;
  • have each signatory sign a separate slip provided for the purpose;
  • disinfect any equipment used (e.g., a chair) before and after the meeting;
  • follow hand hygiene rules when handling any forms completed by the signatory;
  • at all times, maintain a distance of two metres with the signatory, and avoid direct contact (e.g., handshakes) when greeting a person;
  • record the name and contact information of the person met, regardless of whether or not he or she decides to provide a signature, in a register that can be submitted to public health authorities in the event of an investigation.

Any person designated to collect supporting signatures must be informed of these health guidelines. He or she must also be given the list of health guidelines for in-person solicitation. A register template for collecting the contact information of persons met is available on the Élections Québec website.

9. I have completed the health guidelines checklist and the register of people I met while soliciting supporting signatures. What should I do with these documents?

You must submit the completed register and list of health guidelines (as the case may be):

  • to the returning officer, when filing an application for authorization of an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate;
  • to the Chief Electoral Officer, when filing an application for authorization of a political party.

Contributions

10. Can I go door-to-door as part of my election campaign, in order to collect contributions?

The competent authorities have helped develop a Health protocol to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during any municipal election. Based on this protocol, contributions should be solicited remotely (i.e., by telephone or e-mail) whenever possible. A provisional receipt form is available online, allowing an elector to sign the mandatory declaration. Once completed and signed by the elector, the receipt may be forwarded to the official representative of the party or candidate, along with the contribution. The official representative will issue an official receipt to the contributor. The provisional receipt must be submitted to the treasurer along with the official receipt.

Health guidelines for the in-person solicitation and collection of contributions

A list of health guidelines is available on the Élections Québec website, in anticipation of possible in-person meetings.

The list includes the following items:

  • Before meeting any contributor, the canvasser has ensured that he/she is not in any of the following situations (failing which no in-person solicitation may take place):
    • to be back from a trip abroad for less than 14 days.
    • to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and still be considered a carrier of the disease.
    • to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.
    • to have been in contact with a suspected, probable, or confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
    • to be awaiting a COVID-19 test result.
  • The canvasser has been made aware of the greater risk of contracting a severe form of the disease for people 70 years of age and older, people with a chronic disease, or people with a weakened immune system.
  • An appointment has been made with the contributor in a specific location that limits gatherings and allows for following the guidelines corresponding to the alert level in force.
    • In the green, yellow or orange zone:
      • in a public place that allows for compliance with applicable hygiene and physical distancing rules, such as a municipal library;
      • outdoors;
      • behind the wheel of a car;
      • in a private residence;

        Please note that under the orange alert level, you are prohibited from visiting residential and long-term care centres for the purpose of soliciting.

    • In the red zone
      • behind the wheel of a car;
      • in a private residence. In this case, canvasser is invited to make an appointment with the contributor and to remain outside the contributor’s domicile, while following the relevant hygiene and physical distancing rules.

        Please note that under the red alert level, you are prohibited from visiting residential long-term care centres, private seniors’ residences or intermediate and family-type resources providing housing under the Support Program for the Autonomy of Seniors, for the purpose of soliciting.

Furthermore, canvasser should:

  • allow sufficient time for each contributor, so that they are not gathered in the same place;
  • provide disinfectant so the contributor can disinfect his or her hands both before and after handling the contribution receipt provided to him or her;
  • wear a face covering, in accordance with the health guidelines in force;
  • invite the contributor to wear a face covering, in accordance with the health guidelines in force;
  • invite the contributor to use his or her own pen;
  • disinfect any equipment used (e.g., a chair) before and after the meeting;
  • follow hand hygiene rules when handling any forms completed by a contributor;
  • at all times, maintain a distance of two metres with the contributor, and avoid direct contact (e.g., handshakes) when greeting a person;
  • record the name and contact information of the person met, regardless of whether or not he or she decides to make a contribution, in a register that can be submitted to public health authorities in the event of an investigation.

Any person designated to solicit or collect contributions must be informed of these health measures. He or she must also be given the list of health guidelines for in-person solicitation. A register template for collecting the contact information of persons met is available on the Élections Québec website.

Political contributions can only be made to the official representative or to a person designated by the official representative by means of a canvasser’s certificate.

11. I have completed the health guidelines checklist and the register of people I met while soliciting contributions. What should I do with these documents?

You must submit them to the treasurer of the municipality, along with the contribution receipts.

12. Can I organize a political activity to raise funds?

Élections Québec would like to remind all political stakeholders of the importance of complying with the measures established by the government and by public health authorities with regard to election campaign-related activities, especially the measures governing indoor and outdoor gatherings. To learn more, you can visit the website of the Government of Québec: Gatherings and audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Measures may vary based on the type of activity and the alert level in force in your municipality.

  • Indoor gatherings:
    • No festive events;
    • No food on site;
    • Compliance with physical distancing rules;
    • Maximum of 50 people in the green or yellow zone;
    • Maximum of 25 people in the orange zone;
    • Prohibited in the red zone.

    Election campaign staff complying with the health guidelines are not counted toward the maximum number of people allowed.

  • Outdoor gatherings:
    • Maximum of 250 people in the green or yellow zone;
    • Maximum of 25 people in the orange zone;
    • Prohibited in the red zone.
  • Audiences in public places

    Special type of indoor gathering: people are seated and remain largely stationary, with little or no talking and staff supervision.

    • Maximum of 250 people in the green, yellow or orange zone;
    • Prohibited in the red zone.

    Only audience members are counted toward the maximum number of people who can participate in this type of gathering. Staff putting on the event (e.g., election campaign staff) are not counted toward the limit.

  • Travel between regions
    • Not recommended in the orange or red zone;
    • Not recommended from the red zone to the green, yellow or orange zone, or to a location outside of Québec (except for essential travel, for a student, for workers, in the case of shared custody or for the transportation of goods).

In situations where the entrance fee for a political activity is treated as a contribution, refer to the health guidelines for solicitation presented in point 10 of the summary table.

13. How else can I collect contributions, other than by going door-to-door or organizing a political activity?

You may solicit contributions by e-mail or telephone. When making a contribution by e-mail or telephone, an elector can complete a provisional receipt, available online. The person must sign the provisional receipt and send it to you by mail or e-mail, along with his or her contribution. You will be responsible for providing the contributor with an official receipt, which you may also send by mail.

Political parties and candidates with transactional sites may also collect contributions by credit card. The terms of use for a transactional site are set out in directive D-M-21, including the requirement to obtain prior approval for the site from Élections Québec. Please note that bank transfers (such as Interac transfers) are not accepted.

14. We are in the middle of an election campaign and I would like to obtain additional contribution receipts. How do I proceed?

The treasurer is encouraged to provide remote support in terms of answering questions about political financing.

During the election period, contribution receipts are provided by the treasurer. In order to avoid having to wait for receipts to arrive by mail, we encourage you to make an appointment with the treasurer to receive them in person.

At this meeting, the treasurer must comply with the following health guidelines:

  • post the applicable health rules at the entrance to the appointment location;
  • encourage the installation of a physical barrier (solid transparent partition) and provide all necessary indications on the ground (direction of traffic, respect for the rule of physical distance of two metres);
  • remind the official representative that he or she must wear a face covering;
  • provide the official representative with hand sanitizer;
  • avoid handshakes;
  • wear risk-appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., a procedure mask and eye protection);
  • disinfect any equipment used (e.g., a chair), both before and after the meeting;
  • avoid sharing any objects with the official representative (e.g., a pencil);
  • disinfect hands before and after handling any documents;
  • frequently disinfect affected surfaces, such as tables, counters and doorknobs.

15. I am the co-owner of a building or the co-occupant of a business establishment, and I want to make a political contribution. How do I proceed?

First, you need to complete the form titled Power of attorney − Co-owner or co-occupant entitled to make a contribution. The form must be signed by a majority of the co-owners or co-occupants. Once completed and signed, the form can be e-mailed directly to Élections Québec, at contribution-municipal@electionsquebec.qc.ca, or to your municipal treasurer, at the address he or she provides.

If the form cannot be sent by e-mail, you may send it by mail or deliver it in person to the treasurer of the municipality, while complying with the health guidelines in force at the municipal office. The treasurer must then forward a copy to Élections Québec.

Your contribution can only be made after the power of attorney has been sent to the municipality. If you e-mail the document to Élections Québec, we will inform your municipality and you will receive a confirmation to that effect.

Expenses

16. Do I have to pay all expenses related to my election campaign by cheque?

In order to avoid, as much as possible, the handling and exchange of cheques by the various stakeholders, Élections Québec has authorized the payment of expenses by bank transfer, provided that all supporting documents making it possible to trace the transfer are retained and submitted along with the return of expenses.