Campaign Accounts

Candidates are reminded that they may be required to open campaign accounts for the election campaign.

“A campaign account is an account in a savings institution such as a bank, credit union or trust company, and must be used exclusively for the election campaign. A sub-account may be opened as long as it has a distinct account number and separate campaign financing records are kept. Candidates who do not use any of their own money and have no financial transactions do not have to open a campaign account…” (Elections BC’s Guide to Local Elections Campaign Financing in BC for Candidates, page 12). Elections BC encourages financial agents “to open campaign accounts as early as possible.”

When opening a campaign account, we recommend that you provide the financial institution with a copy of this template letter which Elections BC prepared to help financial institutions understand the campaign account requirements under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act (LECFA).

For further information about campaign accounts, please see Election BC’s Guide to Local Campaign Financing in BC for Candidates (see for example pages 12-13) and LECFA (section 18). You may also contact Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683 or

Campaign Financing Resources

In addition to publishing guides related to local elections campaign financing, Elections BC has prepared a video for candidates and financial agents, available here.

Election Advertising and Boards of Education

BCSTA has been asked whether a board of education is required to register as an “advertising sponsor” under the BC Election Act in order to take action to raise the profile of public education issues during the election.

The BC Election Act requires registration and reporting for third parties (“sponsors”) that pay or otherwise arrange for “election advertising” and imposes spending limits on them. These provisions of the Election Act were considered by the Supreme Court of Canada in B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2017 SCC 6. The court ruled that the legislation only applies to individuals or organizations who “sponsor” election advertising. A “sponsor” is someone who pays for the service of election advertising or receives that service from another person without charge. The court held that the Election Act does not prevent the expression of political opinions by an individual who neither pays others for advertising services nor receives free advertising services. Individuals remain free to express their political views during an election campaign by displaying handmade signs, wearing T-shirts with political messages, putting bumper stickers on their cars and so on, without fear of contravening the Election Act.

Under the Election Act, election advertising means: "The transmission to the public by any means, during the campaign period, of an advertising message that promotes or opposes, directly or indirectly, a registered political party or the election of a candidate, including an advertising message that takes a position on an issue with which a registered political party or candidate is associated…”1

The Election Act describes some communications which do not qualify as election advertising including:

  • The publication without charge of news, an editorial, an interview, a column, a letter, a debate, a speech or a commentary in a bona fide periodical publication or a radio or television program.
  • The distribution of a book, or the promotion of the sale of a book, for no less than its commercial value, if the book was planned to be made available to the public regardless of whether there was to be an election.
  • The transmission of a document directly by a person or a group to their members, employees or shareholders.
  • The transmission by an individual, on a non-commercial basis on the internet, or by telephone or text messaging, of his or her personal political views.

It is important to note that Elections BC’s view is that election messages transmitted over the Internet are election advertising only if they meet the applicable definition of election advertising and have, or would normally have, a placement cost. A placement cost is the cost of purchasing election advertising space on a social media site or other website.2

Elections BC has stated that: “Messages without placement costs on the Internet, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media posts, YouTube videos, emails and websites are not election advertising. The costs related to creating, maintaining and posting messages on a website are also not placement costs.”3

This interpretation suggests that boards may use their own websites and social media platforms to communicate the importance of education during the campaign without contravening the Election Act.

Boards can advocate for public education (for example increased resources) without engaging in “election advertising” under the Election Act. The context of the messages may, however, influence how Elections BC views the messages. Even if a message appears to be neutral, the context surrounding the message may lead Elections BC to determine that the message is election advertising requiring registration with Elections BC. For example, we are aware of a past incident when a board’s ad was ruled to be “election advertising.” An influential factor was that the board co-sponsored the ad with a registered advertising sponsor [the local teachers’ association] and the partisan position of this co-sponsor affected the perception of the ad.

Some considerations for boards of education planning to take an active role in raising public education issues in leading up to the election:

  • Avoid messages that criticize or favour a particular political party’s platform or policies.
  • Do not include a message to “contact your MLA”. This could give the impression that the election of a particular candidate is being promoted or opposed.
  • Do not single out specific candidates or compare the positions of candidates on one or more issues. Refer to all candidates in the same way.
  • Avoid messages that encourage voters to select and vote for a “pro-public education” candidate.
  • Refrain from co-sponsoring any messages with registered “advertising sponsors”. Election BC’s list of registered provincial third-party advertising sponsors is available online here.
  • It is not recommended that boards register as advertising sponsors. Registration means that the board is taking a partisan position and may raise questions about the board’s authority to spend education funds for partisan purposes. Moreover, advertising sponsors registered under the Election Act are subject to numerous accounting requirements, statutory obligations and disclosure reporting requirements.
  • If a board has any questions about the requirements of the Election Act and whether a particular message would qualify as “election advertising”, legal advice should be sought in advance.

The Elections BC website has information about the provincial election, including lists of registered advertising sponsors, guides and information bulletins related to the Election Act.

1 See Election Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 106, section 1 for complete definitions of “election advertising”, “campaign period election advertising” and “pre-campaign period election advertising.”

Elections BC Provincial Electoral Finance FAQs

3 Elections BC Provincial Electoral Finance FAQs

Disclaimer: This bulletin provides general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

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