Nikon L31 has a 16.0MP 1/2.3' (6.17 x 4.55 mm ) sized CMOS sensor . On the other hand, Canon ELPH 520 HS has a 10.0MP 1/2.3-inch (6.17 x 4.55 mm ) sized BSI-CMOS sensor and features DIGIC 5 processor.
Nikon L31's sensor provides 6MP more than Canon ELPH 520 HS's sensor, which gives a significant advantage in real life. You can print your images larger or crop more freely.
On the other hand, please keep in mind that Max sensor resolution is not the only determinant of resolving power. Factors such as the optical elements, low pass filter, pixel size and sensor technology also affects the final resolution of the captured image.
Below you can see the L31 and ELPH 520 HS sensor size comparison.
Nikon L31 and Canon ELPH 520 HS have the same sensor sizes so they will provide same level of control over the depth of field when used with same focal length and aperture. On the other hand, since Canon ELPH 520 HS has 59% larger pixel area (2.81µm2 vs 1.76µm2) compared to Nikon L31, it has larger pixel area to collect light hence potential to have less noise in low light / High ISO images.