National Balance Sheet Accounts (NBSA)

Detailed information for fourth quarter 2011





Record number:


The National Balance Sheet Accounts (NBSA) are statements of the non-financial assets owned/used in the sectors of the economy and of the financial claims outstanding among the economic units in the sectors in the economy. They consist of the National Balance Sheet for the nation as a whole, as well as the underlying sector balance sheets.

Data release - March 15, 2012


The National Balance Sheet Accounts (NBSA) are statements of the non-financial assets owned/used in the sectors of the economy and of the financial claims outstanding among the economic units in the sectors in the economy. They consist of the National Balance Sheet for the nation as a whole, as well as the underlying sector balance sheets.

At the core of the NBSA are assets and liabilities and the concepts of wealth and net worth. In nominal terms, wealth accumulates as the result of: economic and financial activity in the Current and Capital Accounts and Financial Flow Accounts, respectively; and, changes in the prices of assets and liabilities.

For a more complete, though brief, description, please refer to the document entitled "Overview of the National Balance Sheet Accounts" available in the "Documentation" section located at the end of the detailed information for this survey.

Statistical activity

The Canadian System of National Accounts (CSNA) provides a conceptually integrated statistical framework for studying the state and behavior of the Canadian economy. The accounts are centered on the measurement of activities associated with the production of goods and services, the sales of goods and services in final markets, the supporting financial transactions, and the resulting wealth positions.

To produce financial statistics, the CSNA measures the economic dimensions of the public sector of Canada, including the financial inter-relationships 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 CSNA maintains a universe of all public sector entities including their complex inter-relationships.


  • Economic accounts
  • Financial and wealth accounts

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The Canadian economy (households, non-profit institutions serving households', governments, financial corporations, non-financial corporations, and non-residents).

Instrument design

This methodology does not apply.


This methodology does not apply.

Data sources

Data are extracted from administrative files and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

A large amount of information from various survey divisions within the bureau, along with other data, are compiled, integrated and analysed as part of the process of producing balance sheet estimates for the Canadian economy.

Major suppliers of data within Statistics Canada include Income and Expenditure Accounts Division, Balance of Payments Division, Industrial Organization and Finance Division, Public Sector Statistics Division, Income Statistics Division, Agriculture Division, Investment, Science and Techology Division and Census Operations Division. There are also a number of external and administrative sources of data used.

Error detection

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


This methodology does not apply.


Assets and liabilities, by detailed categories, are compiled for the major sectors of the economy. Data are received from survey divisions in aggregate forms and, in some instances, on a company or enterprise basis. Such data come either in the form of balance sheet levels or as estimates of capital stocks of non-financial assets. Data are categorized, checked, compiled, analyzed and compared with other sources of economic information. Estimates are reconciled with data in the Current and Capital Accounts, and Financial Flow Accounts.

Quality evaluation

Data are analysed for time series consistency, links to current economic events, issues arising from the source data, and finally with respect to coherence.

It is not possible to produce an equivalent to National Wealth or National Net worth; nor is it possible to construct a balance sheet for the household sector, except periodically from household surveys. However, certain sub-sectors of the NBSA are largely comparable to estimates produced by source data divisions (e.g., pension funds, levels of government).

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that 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.

In order to prevent any data disclosure, confidentiality analysis is done using the Statistics Canada Generalized Disclosure Control System (G-Confid). G-Confid is used for primary suppression (direct disclosure) as well as for secondary suppression (residual disclosure). Direct disclosure occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by few enterprises while residual disclosure occurs when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Revisions - Statistical revisions are carried out in order to incorporate the most recent information from quarterly and annual surveys, taxation statistics, public accounts, censuses, etc.

Estimates for each quarter are revised when those for subsequent quarters of the same year are published and when those for the first quarter of each of the next three years are published. They are not normally revised again except when historical revisions are carried out.

Seasonal adjustment - Quarterly NBSA data series are largely unadjusted for seasonal variation. However, selected quarterly aggregate data series are available on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

Data accuracy

The accounts are designed in a matrix format, using two constraints: Assets less liabilities equal net worth; and, financial assets (by type) equal liabilities (by type). There are no explicit discrepancies, however analysis of the discrepancies in the Financial Flow Accounts provides one gauge of reliability; and, a stock-flow reconciliation provides another. However, these are partial and insufficient measures.

No direct measures of the margin of error in the estimates can be calculated. The quality of the estimates can be inferred from analysis of revisions and from a subjective assessment of the data sources and methodology used in the preparation of the estimates.


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