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Elections and Ridings Section
Fixed-date elections in Canada

Under the Canadian Constitution, general elections are to be held at least once every five years. Traditionally, under a parliamentary system of government, general elections are called at the discretion of the prime minister, although they may be held at any time if the government loses the confidence of the legislature. This can be contrasted with congressional systems of government, where elections are held on set dates, as well as municipal governments in Canada, which are generally elected for a fixed term of office. In recent years, there have been calls for more predictable election dates for federal, provincial and territorial legislatures, and for restrictions on a government’s advantage in calling elections when it is most politically advantageous for them to do so.

The intent of fixed-date election legislation is to create a regular cycle of planned general elections, with specific, predictable election dates and a fixed term for the legislature. Beginning with British Columbia in 2001, a total of eight Canadian provinces and territories have passed laws calling for fixed-date elections. In 2007, the Parliament of Canada passed a law which introduced fixed-date elections at the federal level. All of the Canadian statutes provide for general elections every four years. However, elections can still be held earlier if the government loses the confidence of the legislature, and nothing restricts the royal prerogative of dissolution.

By-elections to fill empty seats in the legislature are not affected by the introduction of fixed-date elections, and continue to be held between the dates of general elections as required.

Find out which Canadian jurisdictions have passed laws introducing fixed-date elections, the name of the Statute in which these measures are described, and the date on which the first fixed-date election was or will be held in each of these jurisdictions.

DateJurisdictionStatutesNotes
2007.05.03 Canada An Act to amend the Canada Elections ActS.C. 2007, c. 10 General election to be held on the third Monday in October every 4 years.

First fixed-date election to be held 2015.

2001.08.27 British Columbia Constitution (Fixed Election Dates) Amendment Act, 2001Statutes of British Columbia 2001, c. 36 General election to be held on the second Tuesday in May every 4 years.

First fixed-date election held in 2005.

2004.12.16 Newfoundland and Labrador An Act to amend the House of Assembly Act and the Elections Act, 1991Statutes of Newfoundland and Labrador 2004, c. 44 General election to be held on the second Tuesday in October every 4 years.

First fixed-date election held in 2007.

2005.12.15 Ontario An Act to amend the Election Act, the Election Finances Act and the Legislative Assembly Act, to repeal the Representation Act, 1996 and to enact the Representation Act, 2005Statutes of Ontario 2005, c. 35 General election to be held the first Thursday in October every 4 years.

First fixed-date election held 2007.

2006.11.02 Northwest Territories Elections and Plebiscites ActStatutes of Northwest Territories, c. 15 General election to be held the first Monday in October every 4 years.

First fixed-date election held 2007.

2007.06.26 New Brunswick An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly ActStatutes of New Brunswick 2007, c. 57 General election to be held the fourth Monday in September every 4 years.

First fixed-date election held in 2010.

2008.04.28 Saskatchewan An Act to amend The Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, 2007Statutes of Saskatchewan 2008, c. 6 General election to be held the first Monday in November every 4 years.

First fixed-date election to be held 2011.

2008.05.22 Prince Edward Island An Act to Amend the Election ActStatutes of Prince Edward Island 2008, c. 9 General election to be held the first Monday in October every 4 years.

First fixed-date election to be held 2011.

2008.10.09 Manitoba The Lobbyists Registration Act and Amendments to The Elections Act, The Elections Finances Act, The Legislative Assembly Act and The Legislative Assembly Management Commission ActStatutes of Manitoba 2008, c. 43 General election to be held the first Tuesday in October every 4 years.

First fixed-date election to be held 2011.

2011.12.08 Alberta Election Amendment Act, 2011Statutes of Alberta 2011, c. 19 General elections shall be held within the 3-month period beginning on March 1 and ending on May 31 in the 4th calendar year following polling day in the most recent general election.

First fixed date election held in 2012.
2013.06.14 Quebec An Act to amend the Election Act for the purpose of establishing fixed-date electionsStatutes of Quebec 2013, c. 13 General election to be held on the first Monday in October every 4 years. First fixed-date election to be held 2016.
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Updated on: 2013.06.14

Revised on: 2013.06.23

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