Quarterly Survey of Financial Statements (QSFS)

Detailed information for third quarter 2015





Record number:


Information collected as part of the Quarterly Financial Statistics for Enterprises program provides data used to measure the financial position and performance of incorporated businesses by industry aggregations. It also provides information on financial holdings and transactions in the Canadian System of National Accounts sector accounts.

Data release - November 26, 2015


The data collected by the Quarterly Financial Statistics for Enterprises comprise financial statements prepared by incorporated businesses to record their financial position and performance. The data include asset, liability and equity items encompassed in a quarterly balance sheet, revenue and expense items as reported on a quarterly income statement and elements of Other Comprehensive Income along with additional supplementary items.

Information collected under the Quarterly Financial Statistics for Enterprises serves two broad objectives. The first measures the financial position and performance of incorporated businesses by industry aggregations. The statistics are used by a wide variety of economists and industry analysts, including federal and provincial regulatory bodies that monitor financial and other institutions in Canada. This information is also a critical input into the measure of corporate profits and capital consumption allowances in the Canadian System of National Accounts (CSNA).

The second broad objective is to provide information on financial holdings and transactions in the CSNA sector accounts. The accounts comprise the National Balance Sheet Accounts and the Financial Flow Accounts. Within the CSNA, the Canadian economy is composed of the incorporated business sector, including non-financial and financial businesses, the government sector, and the persons and unincorporated business sector, which includes non-profit institutions serving households. The Quarterly Financial Statistics for Enterprises data are combined with additional information for the business and other sectors in order to produce complete economy-wide accounts which show the creation and distribution of wealth as well as the financing of economic activity. This is made possible by presenting considerable detail on financial institutions within the sector accounts framework.

In addition, the flow of funds and outstanding positions between Canadian residents and non-residents is measured in Canada's Balance of International Payments and in Canada's International Investment Position, respectively. Both of these releases make use of the Quarterly Financial Statistics for Enterprises in measuring corporate financial activity with non-residents.

Reference period: Quarter

Collection period: 30 days after the end of the quarter


  • Business performance and ownership
  • Financial statements and performance

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The Quarterly Survey of Financial Statements covers incorporated financial and non-financial business enterprises. Excluded are business enterprises controlled by governments and non-profit enterprises.

The statistical unit used in this survey is the enterprise. An enterprise is a business or a family of businesses under common ownership and control for which a set of consolidated financial statements is produced on an annual basis.

Instrument design

The survey questionnaires comprise financial statements typically prepared by incorporated businesses. Corporate activities across the economy are extremely diverse, resulting in the utilization of a variety of unique financial reporting variables. To accommodate the diversity in financial reporting across all industries, fourteen different questionnaires are used. The majority of items on the questionnaires have remained unchanged for several years. However, periodically situations arise necessitating the modification of questionnaires. These changes are proposed through a review committee and are field tested with respondents and data users to ensure that the changes are reasonable and sustainable. The final versions of the revised questionnaires are prepared by Data Dissemination Division and the revision date of the form is updated.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

The frame used for sampling purposes is Statistics Canada's Business Register (BR). A stratified random sample is drawn from this frame based on the size of the unit. The Quarterly Survey of Financial Statements is stratified by assets and revenues for the non-financial industries while the finance and insurance industries are stratified by assets only.

The sample includes a take-all portion, for the largest enterprises within an industry, and these units are sampled with certainty. In addition, there are either one or two take-some portions (depending on the industry) for which, on average, one out of eight units are sampled. Finally there is a take-none portion, from which no units are sampled, rather an estimate is derived by applying the quarter to quarter movement of sample responses to annual data compiled from Canada Revenue Agency financial statements representing the non-sampled portion of the business population.

The total sample size is approximately 5,500 enterprises.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files.

The survey is collected on a quarterly basis. Survey questionnaires are sent to the sampled enterprises approximately one week prior to the quarter-end. The survey is directed to the financial reporting department to be completed.

The respondent has 30 days after the end of the quarter to complete and return the questionnaire to Statistics Canada. Follow up on non-reporters is done throughout the collection period.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

Most reporting and data entry errors are corrected through the application of data editing procedures. This is the application of checks to detect missing, invalid or inconsistent entries or to point to data records that are potentially in error. Some of these edits involve the adherence to basic accounting principles. In addition, collected data is also checked against historical data, at the aggregate level, as well as against other sources of related data and information.


Units which do not respond in the current period are imputed, that is, their characteristics are estimated. For those units for which partial data have been collected, these partial data are used to estimate the missing data for the unit. For those units for which no current data has been collected, but for which historical data exists, this historical data is used to calculate current-period estimates taking into account growth or decline over time. For those units for which no current data has been collected, and for which no historical data exists, a donor imputation system is used. That is, estimates are created based on information from a similar-sized respondent.


Estimates of aggregate corporate balance sheet and income statement items are produced using a blend of survey and administrative data. The survey data represents the sample portion of the program, while the non-sample portion is derived using the administrative data. These are described in more detail in the section on Sampling.

The estimates are produced according to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Starting on January 1, 2011, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants Accounting Handbook contains both International Financial Reporting standards (IFRS) and Accounting Standards for Private Enterprises (ASPE).

Quality evaluation

A process of reconciliation is used to ensure that the quarterly series is consistent with the Annual Financial and Taxation Statistics (AFTS) annual levels; the latter are based upon a census of information from surveyed and administrative sources. Every year, with the release of the first quarter, the quarterly series is reconciled to the most recently available AFTS data. As the AFTS data is typically released fourteen months after the calendar year, this reconciliation is done between the quarterly series and the annual series for the two-year period starting three years prior to the current quarter.

In addition, the quarterly series is continually evaluated through trend analysis, as well as through comparisons to other data sources, to assess the quality of the data and to ensure consistency. For example, in the insurance industry, data from the Insurance Bureau of Canada are used as a tool in the generation of the Quarterly Financial Statistics for Enterprises financial series.

Disclosure control

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.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Quarterly financial statistics for the first quarter 2010 forward are based on the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). For the period prior to the first quarter 2010, the financial statistics are based on the 2007 NAICS.

The seasonal adjustment method used is a computerized ratio-to-moving-average method in widespread use at Statistics Canada. It is based on the U.S. Bureau of the Census Method II, but has some additional features. Beginning with the first quarter of 2009, the Quarterly Financial Statistics for Enterprises series uses X12 ARIMA for "end-point" seasonal adjustment, which recalculates seasonal factors each quarter as more recent data becomes available.

Series containing no significant seasonality have not been seasonally adjusted. In these cases, the unadjusted series are used in the place of seasonally adjusted data.

Data accuracy

Sample surveys are designed to provide the highest sampling efficiency (the smallest sample that will produce a sampling error of a given size). This optimization is usually performed for only a few variables, limited by the data items that are available at the time of sample design and selection, the resources available, and the complexity introduced by trying to optimize for many variables at one time. The sample used for these statistics was designed to produce a reasonable level of accuracy for assets and revenue by industry group. Consequently, other items may be less accurately estimated.

A measure of the sampling error is the standard error. This measurement is based upon the idea of selecting several samples, although in reality only one sample is drawn. Sampling variability can also be expressed relative to the estimate itself. The standard error as a percentage of the estimate is called the coefficient of variation (cv), or the relative standard error. Small cv's are desirable, since the smaller the cv, the smaller the sampling variability relative to the estimate.

The sample for the Quarterly Survey of Financial Statements was drawn such that the cv at the most detailed industry level should be no more than 10% for operating revenue or total assets.

The estimate for small businesses (take-none portion) is prepared by applying a statistical model to predict the value of the take-none portion of the population at the most detailed industry level using the estimates from the surveyed population and other parameters. The error introduced by this method depends on several factors, including the contribution of these strata to the overall estimate and the error in estimating the movement of the strata using sampled units and other external factors.

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