A basic underlying principle of democratic elections is that there must be a “level playing field” for all candidates. An incumbent should not have an advantage over other candidates because of access to public funds, or because of the status associated with being a Member of the Legislative Assembly.
In keeping with this principle, when the Legislative Assembly is dissolved and the writs of election are issued, Members cease to be Members of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. This concept is reflected both in the funding rules for Members’ allowances, and in the way incumbent Members may represent themselves during the election period.
Use of Title “Member of the Legislative Assembly” or “MLA”
Members should refrain from using the position identifier title “Member of the Legislative Assembly” or “MLA” during the election period, including in any print or online campaign materials or advertisements. Incumbent Members may, however, state that they have served as the MLA for [Electoral District] from [Month Year] to [Dissolution Month Year].
MLA websites should be suspended during the election period. A redirect to a campaign website should not be made.
If the Member’s constituency office remains open to assist constituents during the election period and a constituency office website is required to support constituency services, the following message should be displayed: “The Legislative Assembly is currently dissolved. This website will be not be updated until after the general provincial election on [Month Day, Year].” No new content should be added to the website.
A campaign website cannot incorporate the title MLA as an active or current position identifier in the domain name (e.g., www.NameMLA.ca).
Incumbent Members should not refer to themselves as a Member of the Legislative Assembly or MLA on their campaign website, other than to state that they have served as the MLA for [Electoral District] from [Month Year] to [Dissolution Month Year].
Members should not actively identify themselves as being part of a party caucus at the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.
Use of Social Media Accounts
Member and constituency office social media accounts may be suspended or adapted during the election period. Should an incumbent Member choose to use an existing social media account during the election period, the steps below should be taken.
Social media account usernames and handles used during the election period cannot retain the title MLA as an active or current position identifier (e.g., @NameMLA or @MLAName).
An existing MLA video sharing account (such as YouTube and Vimeo) maintained by a Member should not host campaign videos (such videos should be uploaded to another/campaign account). No new videos should be uploaded to the Member’s video sharing account during the election period.
Members are not permitted to refer to themselves as a Member of the Legislative Assembly or MLA in any social media profile, biography, or description other than to state they have served as the MLA for [Electoral District] from [Month Year] to [Dissolution Month Year].
Members are to provide working notice to their constituency office staff at dissolution. Employees of Members of the Government Caucus are covered by a collective agreement. Notice and termination letters must follow the terms of that agreement.
The constituency office(s) may remain open during the election period for those Members seeking re-election, and constituency office staff remain on pay. Constituency Assistants who choose to work on the campaign can utilize their banked vacation (pro-rated for the current year), or take an unpaid leave of absence during this period. Members will be required to provide a letter to Payroll Services indicating the time taken as vacation and confirming that there is sufficient time in the employee’s bank. Leave exceeding the banked time will be without pay.
Staff not participating in electoral campaign or party activities will remain on regular pay during the election period.
Hansard Transcripts and Videos
The use of Hansard transcripts and videos for party political advertising, partisan activities, or electoral campaigning, is prohibited. Members should refrain from uploading or sharing Hansard videos on social media accounts and websites associated with a candidate’s election campaign during the election period. For further information on campaign advertising, please refer to the Elections B.C. website at www.elections.bc.ca.
Kate Ryan-Lloyd, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly250-356-2895 firstname.lastname@example.org
Artour Sogomonian, Clerk Assistant, Parliamentary Services250-952-0615 email@example.com
Constituency offices may remain open during the election period for those Members seeking re-election. Services should be limited to referring constituents to the appropriate government department for assistance with issues. For clarity, it is recommended that Members place a sign at the office entrance, such as: “As the Legislative Assembly is currently dissolved, there are no Members of the Legislative Assembly. This office will be closed (or provide limited services only) until after the provincial general election on [Month Day, Year].”
Some Members may decide to close their constituency office(s) for the election period.
Constituency offices are not to be used for political or election activities during the election period. Constituency offices are not to be closed and re-opened as campaign offices, as they are equipped using public funds.
Telephone and fax lines in constituency offices will be left in place during the election period. Members are to change voicemail messages to exclude reference to their position as a Member of the Legislative Assembly or MLA. Voicemail messages must also indicate that, until general voting day, constituency office services will be suspended, or limited, whichever is applicable, depending on how the Member has decided to proceed.
Computers and Internet Use
Computers should be used for constituency office business only. Members cannot use constituency office equipment for political or election campaign purposes.
Use of the public MLA e-mail address during the election period should be limited to constituency business only, and any political correspondence should be dealt with at the campaign office. Member network accounts and Member private e-mail accounts supported by the Legislative Assembly will continue to be accessible and should only be used for administrative purposes only.
MLA or constituency office websites should be suspended during this period. A redirect to a campaign site is not permitted.
If the constituency office remains open to assist individual constituents during the election period and a constituency office website is required to support constituency services, the following steps should be taken:
- Members should display the following message for any website: The Legislative Assembly is currently dissolved. This website will not be updated until after the provincial general election on [Month Day, Year].
- No new content should be added to the website.
The restrictions that apply to the constituency offices for use of computers and internet access during this period are extended to the Members’ legislative offices within the Parliament Buildings.
Constituency Office Allowance
The constituency office allowance continues to be accessible during the election period. Unavoidable and ongoing costs such as staffing, leases, utilities may continue.
Discretionary spending in constituency offices must be suspended during the election period. This includes advertising, travel, events, non-essential office supplies, and contractor fees. Discretionary expenses submitted during the election period will not be processed by Financial Services. However, discretionary, and routine expenses that were incurred prior to dissolution (for the 42nd provincial general election, prior to 11:00 a.m. on September 21, 2020) may still be submitted for payment.
New expenditures should be extremely limited to ensure that constituency funds are only utilized for absolutely necessary expenses relating to office administration and continuity. Examples of permissible expenditures include ongoing water delivery and Members fulfilling obligations such as to remove or cover constituency office signage.
Communications and Advertising
Householder mailing and/or advertising in the capacity as a Member is not permitted effective the date of dissolution. Any advertisements that have been pre-booked must be withdrawn, even if they have been paid for prior to dissolution.
Constituency Office Signage
All signs that contain the name of the Member and the title “Member of the Legislative Assembly” or “MLA” seeking re-election should be covered up during the election period wherever possible. Signage is considered advertising and an incumbent cannot be deemed to have an advantage over any other candidate. Any costs associated with the coverage of the Member’s names will be paid for using the Member’s available constituency office allowance funds.
Constituency Office Mail
All routine office mail currently in the system on the day of dissolution will be processed. Members may continue to use the postal service for routine office mail of a non-partisan nature up to general voting day.
Personalized Letterhead and Stationery
Members are not to use the Legislative Assembly visual identity and personalized Legislative Assembly stationery identifying them as a Member of the Legislative Assembly, MLA, or Minister during the election period. Ministers may use government stationery as required.
Members may not, at the expense of the Legislative Assembly, have their photographs taken, or order prints from existing proofs, once the Legislative Assembly is dissolved. Photographs paid for by the Legislative Assembly may not be used for election campaign purposes.
Constituency Office Leases
Constituency office leases are between a Member and the landlord; therefore, it is important for Members to review the terms of their lease agreement with respect to the termination provisions. At dissolution, all Members seeking re-election should provide notice to their landlord of their intent to exercise termination of their lease (for the 42nd provincial general election, this should be on December 31, 2020), depending on the outcome of the election. Members re-elected may rescind their notice of termination and negotiate renewal of the lease.
Constituency Office Assets
All Members must make a complete list of the inventory of assets before November 30, 2020. This inventory list should be provided to Financial Services. The Constituency Office Assets Inventory Form is available on the Constituency Office Portal.
Financial Services250-356-8586 firstname.lastname@example.org
The restrictions applied to constituency offices for use of equipment, facilities, and supplies during the election period also apply to a Member’s office within the Parliament Buildings (i.e., that they cannot be used for election and campaign purposes).
The restrictions applied to constituency assistants for work on a campaign during the election period also apply to Members’ legislative support staff.
For the purpose of basic compensation, an incumbent Member is considered to be a Member throughout the election period, up to and including the day immediately preceding general voting day as per section 9 of the Members’ Remuneration and Pensions Act. For the 42nd provincial general election, a Member’s basic compensation therefore continued until October 23, 2020. Basic compensation will continue without interruption for Members who are re-elected. Members not re-elected move to transitional assistance after that date.
Members with Additional Responsibilities
Once the writs of election have been issued, the allowances for the following positions will be paid up to the day preceding the day of dissolution, and will then cease:
- Deputy Speaker;
- Assistant Deputy Speaker;
- Caucus Chair;
- Caucus Whip;
- Chair of a select standing or special committees;
- Deputy Chair, Committee of the Whole;
- Deputy Chair of a select standing or special committees;
- Deputy Caucus Whip;
- Leader of the Official Opposition;
- Leader of the Third Party;
- Official Opposition House Leader;
- Government House Leader (if not a Cabinet Minister);
- Parliamentary Secretary; and
- Third Party House Leader.
The exceptions to this are the Speaker, who is considered to occupy that position from the date of their election as Speaker, until a new Speaker is elected or a Speaker-designate is named in the new Parliament, and Ministers who, as Members of the Executive Council, continue to receive their ministerial salary until their appointment to the Executive Council is terminated by Order in Council.
Deductions for benefit plans chosen by the Member will continue through to the day preceding general voting day for Members seeking re-election, including deductions for pension plans, extended health and dental coverage, group life insurance, and the Employee Assistance Plan.
Payroll Services250-387-5532 email@example.com
At dissolution, Members cease to be Members. Therefore, all payments cease for the period of the election.
For the 42nd provincial general election, Members will not be able to claim reimbursement, or have payment made on their behalf, for the following expenses incurred for the period September 21, 2020 to October 24, 2020 inclusive:
- Travel within the province.
- Travel to and from the constituency (with the exception of Members returning from the Victoria area to their constituency immediately after dissolution).
- In-constituency travel by Constituency Assistants.
- Assembly mobile device usage.
- Miscellaneous constituency office expense recoveries.
- In-constituency travel by Members.
- Per diems.
- Speaker-authorized travel.
Claims for the above will be accepted for expenses incurred prior to dissolution, for expenses incurred up to 11:00 a.m. on September 21, 2020.
Capital City Living Allowance
The Capital City Living Allowance will continue through the election period for those Members seeking reelection.
Eligibility for reimbursement of travel between the Victoria area and the constituency, travel within the province, and Speaker-authorized travel ceases on the date of dissolution. The only exception is for Members who may be in the Victoria area on that day, or another location on official business, in which case they are permitted to claim travel expenses only for the trip back to their constituency.
Members’ Travel Expense Allowance
This allowance is not available during the election period. The amount will be re-calculated and paid to eligible (re-elected) Members in the next quarterly payment, excluding the election period of September 21, 2020 to October 24, 2020.
Out of Constituency Travel
Members will not be reimbursed for Member-related travel costs incurred effective the date of dissolution. If a Member is not re-elected, the Member may seek reimbursement for a final return trip to Victoria as per the details in the relevant section of this Guide.
Members’ Travel Card
The Bank of Montreal Corporate Travel MasterCard is deactivated on the date of dissolution (for the 42nd provincial general election, the card was deactivated on September 21, 2020). The Speaker and Members with government business travel (i.e., Members of the Executive Council), should use personal credit cards and retain receipts for reimbursement of valid expenses by government during the election period.
Members’ Private Legislative Assembly Email Account
Members will continue to have access to their private Legislative Assembly email account for administrative and wind-down purposes. Legislative Assembly email accounts cannot be used for campaign purposes.
Mobile Communication Devices and iPads
The Legislative Assembly does not pay for any charges for mobile communication or smart devices incurred by Members and Caucus staff during the election period.
Any charges to the corporate account during the election period are considered personal charges to the individual Member and will be recovered following the election period.
Returning Members who use a personal mobile communications device (or other device not provided through the Assembly corporate account) for Legislative Assembly business may submit the associated bills for reimbursement for charges incurred after general voting day.
Services on the Legislative Precinct
The Legislative Library, the Parliamentary Dining Room, and the Parliamentary Gift Shop continue their operations during the election period. Members must settle their accounts with the Parliamentary Dining Room and the Parliamentary Gift Shop. All Legislative Library books and other material must be returned.
Parking on the Legislative Precinct
Members retain their parking spot on the Legislative Precinct during the election period.