The objective of this program is the consolidation of the data of the federal government, the provincial, territorial, and local governments and the Canada and Quebec pension plans.
Data release – June 16, 2009 (see Note Regarding "Consolidated Government Financial Assets and Liabilities" and "Consolidated Government Revenue and Expenditures" in the documentation section at the end of this web page.)
"Consolidated government" is the general term for the consolidation of the data of the federal government, the provincial, territorial, and local governments and the Canada and Quebec pension plans.
Consolidation is about combining the financial accounts of units within a government (federal, provincial, territorial or local), or combining the financial accounts of different levels of governments to yield aggregate unduplicated financial statistics. In other words, it is presenting financial data for a number of government units as if they were one unit. There are two basic dimensions of consolidation. One is the choice of entities to be included in any given consolidation (i.e., coverage). The other dimension is the accounting rules used to perform the consolidation, which is the elimination of the transactions between the units being consolidated in order to avoid double counting.
The essential benefit of consolidation resides in Inter-government comparability. Each government maintains its own accounts in a way that best serves its own purposes. The result is that the public accounts published by all governments can neither be combined nor compared. The size of the surplus/ deficit in one province cannot be meaningfully compared to the size of the surplus/deficit in another. The accounts, consolidated on the basis of the Financial Management System (FMS) by applying the same rules and procedures to the financial data of all governments, yield numbers that are comparable. With FMS consolidated statistics, it is possible to compare the state of one province's finances with those of another. Similarly, it is possible to compare the state of the federal government's finances with those of any one province or with those of all provinces combined.
These statistics are used in two broad ways. They provide a measure of the financial position of public sector components and sub-components. These statistical measures are used by a wide variety of economists and industry analysts in both the private and government sectors. Secondly, these data are used as the benchmark for the quarterly estimates of the Government Sector in the Canadian System of National Accounts (CSNA).
The target population consists of all institutional units controlled and mainly financed by governments (federal, provincial, territorial, and local) in Canada except their business enterprises. The population covers all of the government components of the Public Sector Universe. The Public Sector Universe includes governments (federal, provincial, territorial, and local), the Canada and Quebec pension plans, the First Nations, and other aboriginal governments. The government component includes all ministries, departments, agencies, non autonomous funds and organizations, universities and colleges, health and social service institutions and school boards.
Institutional units are comparable to enterprises in the Statistics Canada hierarchical structure of business units. Institutional units are economic entities that are capable, in their own right, of owning assets, incurring liabilities, and engaging in economic activities and transactions with other entities. Control may take the form of full ownership of the institutional unit or a majority holding of the voting shares. The availability of a complete set of annual financial statements is a prerequisite in order for an entity to be classified as an institutional unit within the Government component of the Public Sector Universe.
Data on federal and provincial/territorial governments are entirely obtained from administrative data sources.
Some data concerning the local government revenues and expenditures are obtained by means of a questionnaire. For local governments, the most recent data are obtained through a survey as budget estimates are not available and financial statements (obtained through the provincial/territorial departments of municipal affairs) are not available until 2 to 3 years after the reference year. Questionnaire content and wording are reviewed annually to reflect changes in the availability of information and to incorporate additional dimensions to fulfill Statistics Canada needs. To minimize response burden, some surveys use a short form variation of the standard questionnaire depending on the vintage of data availability in each municipality as mandated by their respective provincial government.
This survey is a census.
Data are obtained from a census of institutional units for all government levels in Canada as defined by the Public Sector Universe with the exception of the First Nations and other aboriginal governments. The Public Sector Universe (PSU) contains all institutional units controlled and mainly financed by government. The PSU is maintained up-to-date through the public accounts and web sites of federal and provincial/territorial governments in Canada. Local government data are also maintained from the administrative records of their respective provincial and territorial Departments of Local Affairs, from information contained in official Provincial and Territorial Gazettes, from municipal directories and from responses to on-going sub-annual municipal surveys.
For local governments, preliminary data are obtained via surveys while final data are derived from administrative (census) sources. Preliminary estimates for local general government revenue and expenditure data are estimated using an annual representative probability sample of municipalities for each province/territory. The sampling design covers about 13% of the number of units in the population representing roughly 80% of the economic activity and ensures that major municipalities are part of the sample. About 480 units are surveyed from a total population of approximately 3,700 municipalities. Municipalities of all sizes are represented. The response rate is around 70%. Survey weights are derived from population counts and correspond to mid-year population estimates benchmarked to the census of population every 5 years. Final data for local general governments are based on the audited financial statements of most municipalities in Canada.
Responding to this survey is mandatory.
Data are collected directly from survey respondents, extracted from administrative files and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.
The data are compiled for the entire government sector population, as enumerated by Public Institutions Division with the exception of First Nations and other aboriginal governments. This census is made possible by utilizing publicly available audited financial statements, public accounts and other administrative information available from federal, provincial, territorial, and local governments and their agencies. This administrative information is supplemented by financial details provided directly by provincial and territorial governments.
Most of the data come from audited financial statements of governments; therefore, minimal error detection procedures are required. For survey data, which represent roughly 1% of the total value, several automated checks are performed on the data to verify internal consistency and identify extreme values.
For non-response units, imputation is performed using historical information where historical information is available; otherwise, donor imputation is used. The donor imputation procedure involves using available auxiliary information to substitute the data from an entity with similar characteristics. Total salaries (aggregated to the relevant institutional unit from the T-4 form 'Statement of Remuneration Paid' from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)) are used to benchmark the total expenses and imputation is done accordingly.
The coverage of the public sector population is virtually complete. Imputation for non-response varies by public sector sub-component, but for all components, the imputation rate is less than 2%. Similarly, the overall impact of imputation on major financial variables is also less than 2%. No attempt is made to estimate for the First Nations and other aboriginal governments.
Estimates are derived from the compilation of data obtained from the data sources for each institutional unit in the population of interest.
The following processes are used to optimize accuracy:
1. Getting the detail:
Published public accounts and local government financial statements do not always contain the detail needed to precisely convert public accounts entries required for the FMS and CSNA classifications. Generally speaking, the greater the detail in the source data, the greater the precision in applying classification codes. The practice is to first obtain the public accounts and then to approach individual governments and solicit the additional detail required to accurately apply the classifications. Increasingly, data are obtained from governments electronically. This enhances accuracy in two ways. One, it eliminates the possibility of transcription errors inherent in using printed public accounts and the solicited supplementary financial detail on paper. Secondly, the electronic data contains far more detail than the paper products they replace and this permits the application of classifications to detailed data resulting in greater precision.
2. Quality control on processing:
Once public accounts publications are obtained and combined with supplementary information, there are many transactions required to transform these raw data into CSNA and FMS estimates. Strict quality control is maintained on all of these transactions such as historical continuity, data validation, and data confrontation. In the case of local government data, the most current years are generated using a probability-sample survey. Standard quality control techniques such as outlier detection are used during processing. Final data are obtained through a census provided by the departments of municipal affairs in each province.
3. Transfers -- matching expenditures to receipts:
Because the program covers all expenditures (including transfers to other governments) and all revenue sources (including receipts of transfers from other governments), the two are matched and disparities are addressed since these transactions must be eliminated in the consolidation process. This applies not only to general government-to-general government transfers (e.g., equalization), but also to grants and other payments to health, social service, education and similar entities, regardless if they are transfers from one level of government to another or within a given government. Transfer payments come from the records of the donor entity and transfer income comes from the records of the recipient entity. The matching of these two records enables us to detect disparities and when these disparities constitute errors, to correct them. A similar exercise is undertaken for transactions between components of government relating to the purchase of goods and services (sales of goods and services) and interest payments (interest revenue).
The analysis of data that occurs before publication includes a detailed review of the individual responses (especially for the largest institutional units), a review of general economic conditions as well as historic trends and comparisons with original public accounts data before the conversion to the Financial Management System (FMS). Any anomaly is verified and resolved before data are published. An example of this cross-check occurs in the annual benchmarking of the government sector data with the Canadian System of National Accounts via the Input-Output Tables and the Gross Domestic Product series. The relevance of government finance statistics for the other parts of CSNA derives from the fact that governments are simply very large players in the economy whose financial transactions have to be included in the national accounts like any other large industry *.
*More detailed information on the CSNA, Public Sector, Input/Output tables, Gross Domestics Product, the benchmarking process in the CSNA, is included in the additional documentation for the CSNA "Statistical activity" section above.
Given that all government data are re-calculated based on a common framework, the Financial Management System, surplus/deficit and debt statistics published by each individual government will not correspond to the numbers published by the Public Institution Division of Statistics Canada. The final data are reconciled with the published public accounts (and local government financial statements) from which they are derived.
These final data are sent to provincial and territorial governments and to Finance Canada for comment before being published, along with a reconciliation statement showing how the FMS data relate to provincial and territorial public accounts. Due to the sensitivity of the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to the major aggregate presented in these data, this process of consulting with the data providers gives a validated assurance that the main data aggregates are accurate.
For more information on these reconciliations, follow the link below.
Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.
The input data to the FMS are not final until several years after the reference year, and the more recent the input data are, the more they are subject to revision.
In the case of government FMS based statistics, data for the most recent year (for example fiscal year ended on March 31st year 5) are based primarily on budget forecasts for the federal government; from budget forecasts and quarterly input from provinces and territories and for institutions data, from data estimated from previous years; and from survey estimates from local governments. Data for the preceding year (fiscal year ended March 31st, year 4) are primarily based on public accounts and audited financial statements for the federal government; on budget forecasts, quarterly input, and some public accounts data for the provincial/territorial governments, and mixture of previous years' estimates and survey data for the institutions; and on survey data for local government. Data for the two preceding years (fiscal years ended March year 3 and March year 2), for federal, provinces/territories and local governments, data are based on public accounts and/or audited financial statements and institutions data are derived from survey results.
The 'fourth' preceding year (fiscal year ended March year 1), corresponds to the benchmarking and revision cycle of the CSNA where all data from the CSNA are benchmarked to the Input/Output matrices and resulting Gross Domestic Product.
While the more recent data are necessarily less reliable than data for several years in the past, the use of preliminary information (budget forecasts or survey for local governments) results in major advances in timeliness. Data are now released within three months of the end of the reference period. In light of the contribution of timeliness to the relevance of the data, this trade-off is in the interests of the data users.
Given that first estimates are based on budget forecasts (or survey estimates for local government) and that final data are based on public accounts/audited financial statements, the size of the revisions varies accordingly to the change from forecasts to actual data.
The FMS uses the same revision policy as the Canadian Systems of National Accounts (CSNA). Each year, only the most current four years of data are subject to revision. Revision of data five or more years ago does not occur until the next historical revision as dictated by the CSNA. As a result, breaks in series are sometimes inevitable and footnotes are provided to warn the data user of any problems.
The data produced are derived from a multitude of entities in the government component of the Public Sector. Statistics Canada has no control over the accuracy of the input data at the time they are received, although it does have the advantage of eventually having access to audited financial documents. We ensure that no errors are introduced through automated checks that verify internal consistency and identify extreme values, and we apply procedures that maximise the error-detection possibilities inherent in the data.
The inherent quality of the input data varies systematically through time, with the most recent data (current year) being the least reliable (and the least detailed) since they are primarily based on government budget forecasts. As the reference year moves into the past, with each additional year the input data becomes more reliable. The public accounts and local government financial statements are eventually subject to audit and these audited accounts and statements form the benchmarks of historical data.
In 2003, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reviewed the government finance statistics program from Statistics Canada according to the observance of IMF standards and codes. The IMF developed a set of 16 elements against which a specific statistical program is evaluated. In all 16 cases, except for one, the IMF gave the highest level of observance for Statistics Canada government finance statistics.
For additional information on data accuracy as well as for a summary of IMF's key findings, please follow the link below.
Statistics Canada has decided to move towards reporting government finance statistics on a Government Finance Statistics 2001 basis. The GFS 2001 is an international accepted accrual accounting framework for government finance statistics. The GFS 2001 is also fully integrated with the United Nation's System of National Accounts framework.
While it will take a number of years to be able to derive detailed GFS-based statistics directly from government financial information (Statistics Canada will begin publishing public sector statistics based on the GFS 2001 manual in calendar year 2014), Statistics Canada has decided to release quarterly GFS data using Canadian System of National Accounts (CSNA) government sector data and a bridging model that maps these data to the GFS framework (see the link "Government Finance Statistics (GFS) : Record number 5174" below).
The Financial Management System (FMS) manual was designed to assist you in better understanding the framework of the Financial Management System (FMS). It will explain the strengths and caveats of the FMS and will provide you with clear explanations of what is included in each revenue source and each expenditure function.