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Sep 20, 2021
Here's how much those single-use pencils cost at the polls
Canada is still in a better position than a lot of the other nations: Former PM Jean Chrétien
It’s an election day filled with sanitizer bottles, plexiglass barriers and single-use pencils.
But just how much of a dent did this pandemic-era polling at voting booths from coast to coast put in Canadian taxpayers’ pockets?
According to new figures obtained by BNN Bloomberg, Canada paid out roughly $108 million more for this election than the country’s past two elections — with an estimated cost of $610 million for the 44th election, which could even be higher once final tallies are in.
That makes this election Canada’s most expensive one yet.
In 2019, the 43rd election had cost Canada about $502.4 million. In contrast, the country’s 42nd election in 2015 had a price tag of $502.6 million, per numbers from Elections Canada.
So, how exactly did Canadians jump from paying less for an election four years after another, to paying out a whole lot more just two years later?
The ostensible answer is the biggest elephant in the room: COVID-19.
Whether it’s pandemic-related safety measures or pandemic-related inflation, much of the rising costs can be attributed to the still-problematic spread of the virus.
Elections Canada says those single-use pencils — an anomaly compared to previous years when they were reused — tolled at least over $430,000 alone.
That’s because 16,000,000 golf-size pencils and 3,650,000 larger pencils for accessibility requirements were procured for this federal election. And each one cost $0.0137 and $0.0598, respectively.
On top of that, plexiglass barriers installed on booths bore the price of $3,784,319.
Still, many other levies and fees — related or unrelated to pandemic precautions — are unaccounted for.
For example, BNN Bloomberg was not able to get a number for how much sanitization stands and sanitizer bottles had cost in this election.
In a statement, an Elections Canada spokesperson wrote Monday, “Until we have a fully costed cost-estimate for the current election, I cannot really speculate on the impacts of COVID-related expenses on the overall cost.”
And where does the money for all of these expenses come from?
It’s a fund that’s financed by taxes and other revenue streams that the Canadian government collects, which the chief electoral officer has an authority to draw from directly whenever they see fit without parliamentary approval (except for salaries).
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