Third Party Advertising Overview
The information below provides a general overview of third party advertising rules and requirements.
For more information, refer to the Government of Ontario’s 2018 Guide for Third Party Advertisers.
Third Party Advertisement
A third party advertisement is an advertisement in any broadcast, print, electronic or other medium that has the purpose of promoting, supporting or opposing a candidate in the election, or a “yes” or “no” answer to a question on the ballot.
Third party advertisements do not include:
- Advertisements by or under the direction of a candidate
- Issues-based advertising during the election period (with the exception of advertising that has the purpose of promoting, supporting or opposing a “yes” or “no” answer to a question on the ballot)
- Advertising that does not cost money to post or broadcast, such as comments made on social media
- Messages distributed by:
- an individual to their employees
- a corporation to its shareholders, directors, members or employees
- a trade union to its members or employees
Registering as a Third Party Advertiser
Individuals, corporations and trade unions can register as third party advertisers and can also make contributions to registered third party advertisers.
A third party advertiser is required to register with the City Clerk of the municipality where they want to advertise.
Candidates cannot register as a third party advertiser, and cannot direct a third party advertiser.
Information for Third Party Advertisements
Third party advertisers must identify themselves and provide mandatory information on all advertising beginning May 1 until the close of voting on Election Day.
Third party advertisements must contain the following information:
- Name of the registered third party advertiser
- Municipality where the third party advertiser is registered
- Telephone number, mailing address or email address at which the registered third party advertiser may be contacted regarding the advertisement
Campaign Finance Rules Apply to Third Party Advertisers
Campaign finance rules for third party advertisers are similar to the rules for candidates.
- Third party advertisers have spending limits and there are contribution limits for those wishing to contribute to a third party advertiser.
- Corporations and trade unions are permitted to make contributions to third party advertisers, but are not permitted to make contributions to candidates.
- The maximum contribution from a single contributor is $1,200 to a registered third party advertiser and $5,000 to two or more registered third parties advertisers in a municipality.
For more information, refer to the Finance rules section of the Government of Ontario’s Guide for Third Party Advertisers.
The Cost to Register as a Third Party Advertiser
There is no registration fee for third party advertisers.
List of Registered Third Party Advertisers
A list of registered third party advertisers will be made available on the City of Toronto’s website.
Candidate Involvement in Third Party Advertising
Third party advertising must be done independently of candidates, who are not able to direct a third party advertiser. If a candidate wishes to purchase or direct their own election campaign advertising, they must follow rules under the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 and identify themselves on their advertisements.
Spending Limits for Registered Third Party Advertisers
The general spending limit is $25,000 for a registered third party advertiser’s campaign in the City of Toronto. The spending limit covers expenses that are incurred between the beginning of the advertising campaign (the day the third party is certified) and voting day. The limit is calculated based on the formula set out in Ontario Regulation 101/97, a regulation made under the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.
There is a separate spending limit of $2,500 for expenses related to holding parties and other expressions of appreciation after the close of voting for registered third party advertisers in the City of Toronto. This limit is calculated at 10% of the amount of the general spending limit, as set out in Ontario Regulation 101/97, a regulation made under the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.