Elections in Ontario

  • Photo of a ballot box

It is through the process of voting that a Member of Provincial Parliament is elected. Elections happen every four years in Ontario and the guidelines for the conduct of an election are set out in the Election Act. This legislation establishes the length of the election period and provides for the presentation of eligible electors.

The election process starts when the Premier visits the Lieutenant Governor and advises that he or she would like to call an election.

The Writs of Election, which are formal legal documents, are put together by the Chief Electoral Officer and signed by the Lieutenant Governor. They are prepared for each of the electoral districts in the province as an official notice that the election process is under-way.

Once the Writs of Election are issued, the campaign period begins and lasts 28 days. Elections Ontario administers all aspects of voting in provincial elections. It is a non-partisan agency of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario overseen by the Chief Electoral Officer.

During this time, candidates announce their ideas and policies they would propose if elected, seeking as many votes as possible. Political parties and candidates face regulations for election financing, limiting the contributions a party can accept and how much a party can spend on its campaign.

On election day, polling stations open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm to allow everyone the opportunity to vote.

Electoral Districts

Ontario is divided into 107 electoral districts, also referred to as ridings. The number of electoral districts is determined by population distribution.

Ontario’s Electoral System - First-Past-the-Post

In Canada, all provinces have the first-past-the-post or plurality system, meaning that the candidate winning the most votes in each electoral district is the winner, regardless if this is less than 50 per cent of the votes cast.