Public Sector Employment
Detailed information for this program (as of April 2012)
The objective of this program is to provide data on employment (number of employees, wages and salaries) in the public sector, i.e. the federal, provincial, territorial and local general governments, health and social service institutions, universities, colleges, vocational and trade institutions, school boards, and government business enterprises.
Data release - These data are provided to the System of National Accounts and to the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) on a monthly basis.
- Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s)
- Data sources and methodology
- Data accuracy
The Public Sector Employment Program produces monthly employment statistics relating to the federal, provincial, territorial and local general governments, health and social service institutions, universities, colleges, vocational and trade institutions, school boards, and government business enterprises. The data are used as input to the National Accounts and the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH).
The Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (CSMA) provides a conceptually integrated framework of statistics for studying the state and behaviour of the Canadian economy. The accounts are centered on the measurement of activities associated with production of goods and services, the sales of goods and services in final markets, the supporting financial transactions, and the resulting wealth positions.
The 'Public Sector statistical program' is a component of the Canadian System of National Accounts (CSNA). The program measures and analyses the economic dimensions of the public sector of Canada, including the multidimensional financial interrelationships among the thousands of entities that make up the three levels of government in Canada (federal, provincial and territorial, and local). In order to carry out this program, the Public Sector Statistics Division (PSSD) maintains a universe of all public sector entities including their innumerable relationships. It also develops, maintains, and applies the Financial Management System (FMS). The FMS is an accounting standard with imbedded, standard statistical classifications unique to the public sector.
The Public Sector Statistics Division (PSSD) of Statistics Canada is responsible for Statistics Canada's statistical information related to the public sector.
- Economic accounts
- Employment and remuneration
- Government financial statistics
- Wages, salaries and other earnings
Data sources and methodology
The population consists of all institutional units controlled and mainly financed by governments (federal, provincial, territorial and local) in Canada, including their business enterprises; this population is referred as the Public Sector Universe. The Public Sector Universe includes governments (federal, provincial/territorial, local), the Canada and Quebec pension plans, the First Nations and other aboriginal governments. The Public Sector institutional units are comprised of ministries, departments, agencies, special-purpose funds and organizations; public educational institutions; and health and social service agencies of the three levels of government (federal, provincial / territorial and local). The target population does not include First Nations and Inuit administrations.
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. A crown corporation and a government business enterprise are both controlled by government but the latter derives more than 50% of its revenue through its commercial activities. Furthermore, certain public entities are classified as government business enterprises in accordance with international convention. This is the case for the Bank of Canada.
Questionnaires have been developed to collect data from the Federal, Provincial and Territorial general government institutional entities not using the corresponding central pay system. There is one questionnaire for the Federal institutional entities and one questionnaire for the Provincial and Territorial institutional entities. These questionnaires are also sent to a few government business enterprises which data were not found in the Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours database.
Both questionnaires have been developed mainly to gather the necessary information to derive employment counts and total wages and salaries estimates. However, additional information on irregular payments (such as overtime pay and retroactive pay) and total hours paid is requested to supply some details to the System of National Accounts and the Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours.
The latest revisions to the Federal questionnaire were implemented in 2002, while the Provincial and Territorial questionnaire dates back to 1999.
This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.
Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore no sampling is done.
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.
For the Federal, provincial and territorial general governments, most provinces offer central pay services to their constituting institutional entities. The Public Sector Employment program receives information from all central pay services. Questionnaires are sent to those institutional entities part of the target population that are not using the available central pay service.
For the Local general governments, health and social service institutions, universities, colleges, vocational and trade institutions, school boards, the estimates for these public sub-sectors are derived from the Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours industry estimates (see record no. 2612).
For Federal, provincial and territorial government business enterprises, questionnaires are sent to only a few Federal, Provincial or Territorial government business enterprises. Data for most of the business enterprises is extracted from the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours database.
For Local government business enterprises, movements from Public Sector Statistics Division data on Local government business enterprises revenue and expenditure are applied to historical benchmark values.
For all Government components, the wage and salary annual totals are benchmarked to the Labour Income estimates produced by the Income and Expenditure Accounts Division (see record no. 2602). This is done on an annual basis at the end of the first quarter of each year.
View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).
The data validation stage includes examination of month over month and year over year variations in the number of employees and wages and salaries, as well as average monthly and yearly wages and salaries. Trends are examined at many levels of aggregations, such as province or institutional unit. Significant variations are investigated by telephoning the source of data, whether external or internal to Statistics Canada.
Commencing with the data for 1981, the estimates of wages and salaries are benchmarked to the wages and salaries portion of labour income published by the System of National Accounts. This makes these data more consistent with the SNA wages and salaries.
For the Federal, Provincial and Territorial general governments, most of the data come from administrative sources (central pay systems) that cover almost all institutional entities. Questionnaires are sent to those institutional entities not using the corresponding central pay systems. The non-response cases are usually limited to questionnaires not received before data collection cut-off. The percentage varies from month to month but is usually less than 5%.
Because of the strong seasonal component of employment series, imputation is performed using historical information, mainly by applying to the previous month estimates, the previous year last month to current month movement.
For the employment series for the Federal, Provincial and Territorial general governments and their government business enterprises, the estimates are derived by straight summation of the collected data.
For the other public sector components (Local general governments, health and social service institutions, universities, colleges, vocational and trade institutions, school boards, and the local government business enterprises), the employment estimates are derived by applying movement displayed by selected Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours industry estimates to historical benchmark values.
For the wages and salaries estimates for the government components, annual totals are benchmarked to estimates produced by Income and Expenditures Accounts Division (see record 2602). The data collected are used for monthly movements.
The wages and salaries estimates for all levels of government business enterprises are derived by straight summation of the collected data.
The month to month estimation process uses mainly a time series consistency approach to validate the results.
Reconciliations with other sources are performed on a regular basis. Federal government data are reconciled with data based on both the universes of the Public Service Commission and the Treasury Board of the Government of Canada. The data are also compared with the Main Estimates of the government of Canada and the Public Accounts. The provincial and territorial government employment data are reconciled with the employment covered under the jurisdiction of public service acts of the various provinces and territories. Federal, provincial and territorial government business data are compared with individual annual reports. For the local general governments, health and social service institutions, universities, colleges, vocational and trade institutions, school boards, the data are reconciled with the Labour Force Survey results.
The estimates of wages and salaries are benchmarked to the wages and salaries portion of labour income published by the System of National Accounts. This makes these data more consistent with the SNA wages and salaries.
Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. 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.
Revisions and seasonal adjustment
The employment program uses the same revision policy as the Canadian System of National Accounts (CSNA). All current year monthly estimates are subject to revision when new estimates are released. Each year, at the end of the first quarter, data pertaining to the last four years 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.
Fluctuations in economic time series are caused by seasonal, cyclical and irregular movements. A seasonally adjusted series is one from which seasonal movements have been eliminated. Seasonal movements are defined as those which are caused by regular annual events such as climate, holidays, vacation periods and cycles related to crops, production and retail sales associated with Christmas and Easter. It should be noted that the seasonally adjusted series contain irregular as well as longer-term cyclical fluctuations. The seasonal adjustment program is a complicated computer program which differentiates between these seasonal, cyclical and irregular movements in a series over a number of years and, on the basis of past movements, estimates appropriate seasonal factors for current data. Seasonally adjusted employment data are available for all public sectors. Wages and salaries in the public sectors are not seasonally adjusted.
On an annual basis, the historic series of seasonally adjusted data are revised in light of the most recent information on changes in seasonality. A modification to the methodology in one of the public sector employment data sources has caused a break in the unadjusted series in 2001. This is why the seasonally adjusted data series only begins in January 2001.
In the case of a census, the estimates are only subject to non-sampling errors. The non-sampling errors are of four types: non-response error, response error, processing errors and coverage.
For the data collected directly through the Public Sector Employment Program (Federal, Provincial and Territorial general government institutional entities), the level of non-response is usually less than 5%. The data coming directly from the central pay systems or the questionnaires, do provide accurate information. This is insured through regular communication with the data providers. Most of the data come in electronic format. Data capture is necessary for less than 200 questionnaires, therefore contributing to low processing errors. The public sector employment program relies on the Public Sector Universe maintained by the Public Sector Statistics Division. For more information on the Public Sector Universe, follow the link in the 'Statistical Activity' section above.
Since the Public Sector Employment Program extensively uses results from the Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours to derive estimates for local general governments, health and social service institutions, universities, colleges, vocational and trade institutions, and school boards, the quality of the corresponding figures depends on the data accuracy associated with that survey (see record no. 2612).
- Public Sector Employment - Concepts
- Reconciliation of Public Employment Estimates from Multiple Sources
- User Guide: Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts
This guide provides a detailed explanation of the structure, concepts and history of Canada's System of Macroeconomic Accounts.
Last review : June 22, 2018.
- Reconciliation of Public Employment Data Published by the Labour Statistics Division and the Public Sector Statistics Division
- Date modified: