Workers may be entitled to take time off work to vote

Canada Elections Act states workers must have three consecutive hours off work in which to cast a ballot

Canadians are heading to the polls today to cast ballots in the federal election in one of the tightest races in recent memory.

Employers have certain obligations to employees to ensure they have adequate time to vote.

The Canada Elections Act states that every employee who is an elector is entitled, during voting hours on polling day, to have three consecutive hours for the purpose of casting a vote. If the employee’s hours of work do not allow for those three consecutive hours, the employer shall allow time for voting that is necessary to provide those three consecutive hours.

For example, a worker in Toronto who works from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. would not need any additional time off because that worker has at least three hours (from 5 p.m. until the polls close at 9:30 p.m. in Ontario) to cast her ballot. (See below for a complete list of voting hours by region.)

But a shift worker pulling a 12-hour shift from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. would require time off in order to cast his ballot.

The act goes on to state that the time the employer shall allow for voting is at the convenience of the employer.

This section of the act does not apply to an employee of a company that transports goods or passengers by land, air or water who is employed outside her polling division in the operation of a means of transportation, if the additional time cannot be allowed without interfering with the transportation service.

Voting hours by region

Time zonePolls open and close
Newfoundland time8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Atlantic time8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Eastern time9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Central time*8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Mountain time*7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Pacific time7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


* In Saskatchewan, when daylight saving time is in effect for the rest of the country, voting hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Central time zone and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Mountain time zone.

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