ONTARIO is proposing changes to the provincial election system that would ensure Ontarians are represented fairly in the legislature.
Premier Kathleen Wynne announced on Thursday that the government will introduce an election reform bill. If passed, the Electoral Boundaries Act, 2015 would increase the number of provincial ridings in southern Ontario from 96 to 111 for the election scheduled in 2018. This would align with the new federal boundaries, and would better reflect population shifts and increases. Most new ridings would be in areas that have seen substantial population growth, such as Toronto, Peel, York, Durham and Ottawa.
The 11 ridings in northern Ontario would stay the same to ensure that northern communities continue to have effective representation in the legislature.
Adjusting Ontario’s electoral boundaries was recommended by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO). The government is also committed to addressing other recommendations from the CEO, and will be moving ahead with additional items this fall, including:
- Moving the fixed election date from fall to spring to help avoid overlap with federal and municipal elections;
- Engaging more young people with the voting process through provisional registration for 16- and 17-year-olds. The minimum voting age would remain 18;
- Strengthening rules on election-related third-party advertising.
Enhancing the fairness and integrity of the election system is part of the government’s plan to build a fairer and more inclusive Ontario.
- In 2004, federal redistribution reduced the number of federal seats in northern Ontario from 11 to 10, but Ontario kept the number of provincial seats at 11. That is why if the Electoral Boundaries Act, 2015 passes, Ontario will have 122 provincial ridings and 121 federal ridings.
- The Chief Electoral Officer states that moving the election date from fall to spring could make it easier for people to vote because the weather is usually better, the days are longer and it would reduce overlaps with federal and municipal election campaigns.
- The Chief Electoral Officer states that provisional registration could allow Elections Ontario to work with schools and the driver’s licensing program to encourage 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register so they are ready to vote once they turn 18.