Prior to 2018, third party advertising was not regulated for municipal council and school board elections. Those who wanted to advertise or distribute materials supporting or opposing a candidate did not have to identify themselves, were able to spend unlimited amounts of money, and did not have to report their advertising or financial activities to anyone. Recent changes to the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 created a framework of rules for third party advertising.

What is Third Party Advertising?

Third party advertising is a paid message placed in any medium (broadcast, print or electronic) by an individual (other than the nominated candidate), corporation, or trade union, that supports or opposes a candidate for council, mayor or a school board or a “yes” or “no” answer to a question on the ballot.

 Registration and requirements for Third Party Advertising
An individual, corporation or trade union must register in person with the municipal clerk at Cambridge City Hall, 50 Dickson Street, 2nd floor in order to be a third party advertiser in the City of Cambridge. Registration packages will be available at the Clerk's desk starting on May 1, 2018. Third party advertisers are required to register with the city clerk prior to incurring any expenses for advertisements or receiving any contributions.

If a third party advertiser wants to advertise in more than one municipality they must register in each municipality in which they plan to advertise.

The Municipal Elections Act, 1996 sets out a restricted period for third party advertising. This restricted period runs from May 1 in the year of the election to the close of voting on voting day. For the 2018 election, the restricted period is May 1, 2018 to the close of voting on October 22, 2018. However, the deadline to register runs from May 1, 2018 until the close of business on October 19, 2018.

 Who can register as a Third Party Advertiser?
Individuals, corporations and trade unions in Ontario can register as third party advertisers and can also make contributions to third party advertisers. Third party advertising must be done independently of candidates. Candidates cannot register as a third party advertiser and cannot provide direction to a third party advertiser.
 Who cannot register as a Third Party Advertiser?
The following are not permitted to register:
  • Municipal election candidates
  • Federal and provincial political parties, constituency associations, registered candidates and leadership contestants
  • Federal and provincial governments, municipalities, or local boards

Key dates

Key dates for Third Party Advertisers
Date Occurance
May 1, 2018 First day for third party advertisers to register and advertise once registered.
October 19, 2018 Last day for third party advertisers to register.
October 22, 2018 Last day for third party advertisers to advertise.
December 31, 2018 Campaign period ends and last day to accept contributions.
March 29, 2019 @ 2 p.m. Last day to file financial statements and auditor reports.

In certain circumstances the filing date or campaign period may be extended.

To register as a Third Party Advertiser

Third Party Advertisers were able to file their Notice of Registration paper between May 1, 2018 until October 19, 2018.

See a list below of the Third Party Advertisers who are currently registered for the 2018 municipal election period.

Registered Third Party Advertisers
Name Telephone Number E-mail Address Website Filing Date
Yes, Cambridge! 519-721-9661

July 26, 2018
Uncover Community Development Ltd. 289-919-1984  N/A October 12, 2018
Concierge Marketing Inc. 877-912-0612 N/A N/A October 12, 2018
Campaign Life Coalition 416-204-9749  October 19, 2018


 What information must be included in the advertisements?
A third party advertiser must provide the following information on all of its advertisements, signs and other materials:
  • the legal name of the registered third party (if the third party is a corporation or trade union, the name of the corporation or trade union must appear, not the name of the representative who filed the registration)
  • the municipality where the third party is registered
  • a telephone number, mailing address or email address where the third party can be contacted

If ads are going to be broadcast or published (e.g. on a radio station or in a newspaper), the ad must contain the information required above, and the third party advertiser must also provide the broadcaster or publisher with the following:

  • the name of the registered third party
  • the name, business address and telephone number of the individual who deals with the broadcaster or publisher under the direction of the registered third party
  • the municipality where the third party is registered


 Who is permitted to contribute to a Third Party Advertiser?
  • an individual who is normally an Ontario resident
  • a corporation that does business in Ontario
  • a trade union that holds bargaining rights for employees in Ontario
  • the registered third party and in the case of an individual, his or her spouse
 Third Party Advertiser contribution rules
While contributions by corporations and trade unions to candidates are banned, corporations and trade unions can contribute to registered third party advertisers. Contributions cannot be made or accepted unless the Third Party Advertiser is registered and can only be made during the campaign period (which begins the day the third party registers and ends on December 31, 2018). Money, goods and services are considered contributions.

The maximum contribution from a single contributor is $1,200 to a registered third party advertiser and a total of $5,000 to two or more registered third party advertisers in a municipality. These limits do not apply to contributions by a registered third party advertiser to itself and, if the registered third party is an individual, by his or her spouse.


 Spending limits

The general spending limit for a third party’s advertising campaign is calculated based on the number of electors who are eligible to vote in the municipality where the third party is registered. The formula to calculate the limit is $5,000 plus $0.05 per eligible elector, to a maximum of $25,000.

There is a separate spending limit for expenses related to holding parties and other expressions of appreciation after the close of voting. This spending limit is calculated as 10% of the amount of the general spending limit.

When a third party registers in a municipality, the clerk will give them an estimate of their general spending limit. This estimate will be based on the number of electors in the last election.

On or before September 25, 2018 the clerk must give a final general spending limit that is based on the number of electors on the voters’ list for the current election.

If the initial spending limit estimate is different than the final spending limit received in September, the higher of the 2 becomes the official spending limit. The clerk will also provide the spending limit for expenses related to parties and other expressions of appreciation.

 Filing requirements

All registered third parties must file a financial statement using a prescribed form. Third party advertisers whose contributions and total expenses are equal to or less than $10,000 are not required to file an auditor’s report with the financial statement. Those whose contributions or total expenses exceed $10,000 are required to file an auditor’s report with the financial statement.

The filing deadline is 2 p.m. on March 29, 2019.

If a registered third party does not file their financial statement or exceeds their expense limit, they cannot register in the next election.