Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments

  1. Advisory Board and its mandate

  2. The Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments (“Advisory Board”) is an independent and non-partisan body whose mandate is to provide non-binding merit-based recommendations to the Prime Minister on Senate nominations. It was established on January 19, 2016 and consists of three permanent federal members (“federal members”), one of whom is appointed as Chairperson; and two members chosen from each of the provinces or territories where a vacancy is to be filled (“provincial members”).

    Establishment of the Advisory Board

    Terms of Reference for the Advisory Board

    Biographies of members

    Frequently Asked Questions

    The Advisory Board is supported by the Privy Council Office.

    The new appointments process will be implemented in two phases. In the transitional phase (Phase 1), five appointments will be made early in 2016 to improve the representation of the provinces with the most vacancies (i.e., Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec). A permanent process (Phase 2) will then be implemented with further enhancements to fill the remaining vacancies, and will include an application process open to all Canadians.

  3. About the Process

  4. PHASE 1 – Winter 2016

    In Phase 1, the “transitional process”, recommendations will be made to the Prime Minister by the Advisory Board in early 2016 in order to fill vacancies in provinces with the greatest number of vacant seats in the Senate: two vacancies in Ontario, one in Quebec and two in Manitoba. For each of these five Senate vacancies, the Advisory Board will provide the Prime Minister with a non-binding list of five individuals who the Advisory Board believes merit consideration for appointment to the Senate, and who meet all constitutional eligibility requirements for appointment.

    1. Consultations:

      During Phase 1, the Advisory Board undertook broad consultations with non-profit organizations, associations and institutions, groups such as gender-based, Indigenous peoples, linguistic, minority and ethnic communities, community service organizations, chambers of commerce, as well as professional, business, arts, environmental, labour, faith and sports organizations, and educational institutions such as universities and colleges.

      These consultations were undertaken to ensure that a diverse slate of individuals, with a variety of backgrounds, skills, knowledge and experience required for a well-functioning Senate were nominated for the consideration of the Advisory Board. The Advisory Board also invited nominations through its website.

    2. Deadline:
    3. The application and nomination period closed at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on February 15, 2016.

    Advisory Board's report on the transitional process.

    PHASE 2 – Spring 2016

    Phase 2: Beginning sometime in 2016, an open application process will allow Canadians to apply directly for appointment to the Senate (without being nominated by an organization). Information on Phase 2 will be posted at a later date. THE PHASE 2 PROCESS IS NOT CURRENTLY OPEN.

  5. Qualifications and Merit-Based Assessment Criteria

    1. Constitutional eligibility requirements
    2. Age

      A nominee must be a minimum of 30 years of age and be less than 75 years of age.


      A nominee must be a citizen of Canada.

      Net Worth in Real and Personal Property

      A nominee must own property with a net value of $4,000 in the province for which he or she is appointed, and have an overall net worth of $4,000 in real and personal property.

      In the case of Quebec, a nominee must have his or her real property qualification in the electoral division for which he or she is appointed, or be resident in that electoral division.


      A nominee must be a resident of the province for which he or she is appointed.

      • A nominee must have his or her place of permanent residence in the province or territory of vacancy at the time of application and appointment. The permanent residence of a nominee is where the person is ordinarily present and has made his or her home for a minimum period of two years leading up to the application. The nominee must provide documentation of residence in the province or territory.
      • Despite rule 1, an exception to the two-year requirement may be made in a case where a nominee is temporarily absent from the province or territory of vacancy for reasons of employment or education but can provide satisfactory proof he or she intends to return to his or her permanent residence in the province or territory of vacancy.
    3. Merit-based criteria established by the government
    4. Gender, Indigenous and Minority Balance

      Nominees will be considered with a view to achieving gender balance in the Senate. Priority consideration will be given to nominees who represent Indigenous peoples and linguistic, minority and ethnic communities, with a view to ensuring representation of those communities in the Senate consistent with the Senate’s role in minority representation.


      Nominees will be asked to demonstrate to the Advisory Board that they have the ability to bring a perspective and contribution to the work of the Senate that is independent and non-partisan. They will also have to disclose any political involvement and activities. Past political activities would not disqualify a nominee.

      Knowledge Requirement

      Nominees must demonstrate a solid knowledge of the legislative process and Canada’s Constitution, including the role of the Senate as an independent and complementary body of sober second thought, regional representation and minority representation.

      Personal Qualities

      Nominees must demonstrate outstanding personal qualities, including adhering to the principles and standards of public life, ethics, and integrity.

      Nominees must demonstrate an ability to make an effective and significant contribution to the work of the Senate, not only in their chosen profession or area of expertise, but the wide range of other issues that come before the Senate.

      Qualifications Related to the Role of the Senate

      A nominee must demonstrate one of the following criteria:

      • a high level of experience, developed over many years, in the legislative process and public service at the federal or provincial/territorial level; and/or,
      • a lengthy and recognized record of service to one’s community, which could include one’s Indigenous, ethnic or linguistic community; and/or,
      • recognized leadership and an outstanding record of achievement in the nominee’s profession or chosen field of expertise.

      Asset Qualifications

      Bilingualism: fluency in both official languages will be considered an asset.

  6. Contact us

  7. Privy Council Office
    General Enquiries
    Room 1000
    85 Sparks Street
    Ottawa, ON
    K1A 0A3