The Chief Electoral Officer of Québec presents a portrait of provincial political party financing – Return of surplus net assets for the first time since 2011

June 29, 2015

The Chief Electoral Officer of Québec, Lucie Fiset, released today the financial reports of Québec’s 18 authorized provincial political parties and their 366 authorities, as of December 31, 2014. This portrait of party finances reveals that at the end of last year, the parties had improved their financial situation. Overall, they show surplus net assets for the first time since the 2011 fiscal year.

Results and net assets

The financial reports of the provincial political entities firstly present a portrait of their current operations for the year ending on December 31, 2014. These “results” report revenue and expenses. In this instance, the parties and their authorities, taken as a whole, recorded surpluses of $1.18M, i.e. revenue of $32.54M and expenses of $31.36M. The four political parties represented in the National Assembly, for their part, accumulated surpluses of $1.2M. Three of them completed the fiscal year with a surplus, while the Parti québécois recorded an operating deficit of $542,000.

A look at the net assets of the parties and their authorities reveals their overall financial situation at the end of the year (i.e. what the political entities would be “worth” if all assets were liquidated and their debts paid at their carrying value). An examination of these net assets on December 31, 2014 reveals a significant overall improvement despite the fact that 2014 was an election year characterized by significant expenditures. The surpluses registered are in fact the first since the 2011 fiscal year:

  • 2011: Surplus of $7.3M
  • 2012: Deficit of $2.1M
  • 2013: Deficit of $0,6M
  • 2014: Surplus $0,7M

The 2014 data therefore leads to the conclusion that the provincial political parties and their authorities are in good overall financial shape. Two political parties represented in the National Assembly, the Parti québécois and the Coalition avenir Québec-Équipe François Legault, presented a net assets deficit at the end of 2014.

Public financing

It will be recalled that 2014 was the second year of application of the reform of political party financing which entered into force on January 1, 2013. The reform reduced by 90% the maximum allowable contribution per elector, henceforth $100, and, in return, significantly increased public financing.

For example, in 2014, the state paid $25M to the provincial political entities, representing 77% of their revenue. If we compare with 2012, the previous election year, public financing represented 53% of revenue.

The main sources of public funding in 2014 were as follows:

  • The allowance paid by the Chief Electoral Officer to the parties: $9M (27.7% of total revenue);
  • The reimbursement of election expenses: $8.1M (25%);
  • An additional allowance upon the calling of the April 7 general election: $5.9M (18.2%);
  • The matching of revenue from contributions (regular and electoral): $1.9M (6%).

Comparing the 2014 election year with the 2012 election year, we note that the financing reform that came into force January 1, 2013 provided political entities with significantly more income for an election year: $14.7M in 2014, compared to $9.8M in 2012.

Autonomous financing

The autonomous financing of political entities primarily comprises the contributions collected from electors. For 2014, this contribution revenue was $3.6M out of the total revenue of $32.6M, i.e. a proportion of 11.1%. In 2008, the last election year before the political financing reforms of 2010 and 2013, contributions represented 55% of the total revenue of political entities.

Finally, it will be recalled that under the reform which came into force on January 1, 2013, contributions to provincial political entities are paid directly to the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec. In this regard, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer received, in 2014, a total of 45,020 contributions, amounting to $3.6M. It issued 38,511 receipts relating to these contributions.

Favouring the independence of elected officials from contributor-based financing

In its review of the application of the 2011 and 2013 reforms of political party financing, in September 2014, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec emphasized that financing political parties with substantial public funds aimed to promote the independence of elected officials from “private financial backers.” The portrait of provincial political party financing for 2014 seems to reflect what the Québec reforms have established in this regard. Very recently, the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec also reiterated that, in her view, the municipal political party financing system should be modeled on the provincial system. It will be noted that the financial situation of municipal parties further deteriorated in 2014.

The Chief Electoral Officer of Québec recommends that parliamentarians review the entire provincial political party financing system every five years. Such a perspective would enable them to seek the best balance between public and contributor-based financing.

The various reports released today, as well as a non-technical information document concerning the financial reports, entitled Portrait of the financing of provincial political parties, are available on the page Financial Reports 2014 at

Categories : Provincial, Municipal, Municipal financing, Provincial financing, DGE

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive our news by e-mail.