Corporations Returns Act (CRA)

Detailed information for 2011





Record number:


The purpose of the Corporations Returns Act is to collect financial and ownership information on corporations conducting business in Canada. This information is used to evaluate the extent and effect of non-resident control in the Canadian corporate economy.

Data release - October 30, 2013


The Corporations Returns Act is administered by Statistics Canada under the authority of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. The purpose of the Act is to collect financial and ownership information on corporations conducting business in Canada. These data are used to evaluate the extent of foreign control in the Canadian economy and are summarized in an annual report to Parliament. In addition, the ownership information is used to define corporate ownership structures which are released in the product entitled Inter-corporate Ownership.

For the Corporations Returns Act program, three components are used to measure foreign control: assets, operating revenues and operating profits.

- Asset-based measures of foreign control provide a longer term perspective. Assets are a stock item, reflecting economic decisions and market conditions that evolve more slowly over time.

- Revenue-based measures, on the other hand, represent a flow item and are closely tied to the business cycle. Revenues tend to reflect current business conditions, causing them to be more volatile than asset-based measures.

- Profits are a measure of the financial health and well-being of an economy and can be used to assess its performance and sustainability.

The Corporations Returns Act data are used by the business community, by provincial and federal departments and by international organizations to conduct research studies and develop policy.

Reference period: Calendar year

Collection period: Collection of ownership information occurs throughout the year. Each corporation's ownership questionnaire is mailed during its fiscal year-end month.


  • Business ownership
  • Business performance and ownership

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The data in this program are compiled for statistical enterprises. An enterprise may be a single corporation or a family of corporations under common ownership or control, for which consolidated financial statements are produced.

These enterprises are classified according to the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). In the case of simple enterprises, the enterprise and the establishment coincide and both are classified to the same industry. However, there exist many multi-establishment enterprises whose establishments may belong to one or more industries. Such enterprises are classified to the predominant industry of their establishments. For example, a petroleum enterprise may be involved in exploration, mining, refining, shipping and retailing of petroleum products. Under NAICS, such an enterprise is classified to the individual NAICS code that relates to the activity that provides the most value-added.

It should be noted that NAICS Canada data compiled on an enterprise basis cannot be directly compared with NAICS Canada data on an establishment basis.

The target population covers all incorporated enterprises in Canada including federal and provincial government business enterprises, but excluding enterprises classified under the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to Management of Companies and Enterprises (NAICS 55), Religious Organizations (NAICS 8131), Political Organizations (NAICS 81394), Public Administration (NAICS 91), as well as Funds and other Financial Vehicles (NAICS 526). Government business enterprises are public sector enterprises engaged in operations of a commercial nature. Private enterprises are non-government enterprises which may be either publicly-traded or private enterprises.

This program's statistical enterprise data, based on the NAICS codes, have been aggregated into 21 special industry groupings. For more information on the program's industry groupings, please consult CANSIM table 179-0004.

Instrument design

The ownership information required under the Corporations Returns Act is collected using an electronic version of one questionnaire. The content of this questionnaire is dictated by Schedule I of the Corporations Returns Act regulations. This schedule requests information on the reporting corporation, its directors and officers, as well as the type, number and owner of its shares. In addition, corporations are required to report the shares they own in other corporations. The questionnaire is sent to all corporations in Canada with assets, revenues or debt/equity above certain thresholds.


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

The Corporations Returns Act database provides the frame from which corporations are sampled to collect ownership information. This database is maintained in Industrial Organization and Finance Division (Statistics Canada), and it stores information on the corporate structure of all enterprises which conduct business in Canada or are incorporated under a law of Canada or a province and which have assets, revenues or debt or equity above certain size thresholds.

Corporations are included in the sample if their gross revenues for a fiscal period exceed $80 million, their assets exceed $200 million or their long-term debt or equity owing to non-residents exceeds a book value of $1 million. In calculating these amounts, each corporation must include the assets, revenues, and debt or equity of all of its affiliates which carry on business in Canada. One corporation is affiliated with another if one is controlled by the other or both are controlled by the same corporation, person or related group.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys.

The Corporations Returns Act program focuses on the statistical enterprise. It is based on a dataset which links country of control information derived at the legal entity level, with financial data compiled at the enterprise level from Industrial Organization and Finance Division's (IOFD) Financial and Taxation Statistics for Enterprises program.

Country of control data
The country of control data are derived from ownership questionnaires filed annually with Statistics Canada by corporations liable under the Corporations Returns Act, and from information obtained from the Canada Revenue Agency's administrative records.

Statistics Canada collects ownership information from incorporated businesses in Canada with assets, revenues or debt/equity owing to non-residents above certain thresholds. This information is collected using a mail out/mail back questionnaire. Corporations are asked to return their completed questionnaires within 90 days of their fiscal year-end. Upon receipt, the questionnaire is captured and edited to ensure the validity of the collected information. Follow-up for non-response is conducted by mail. Follow-up to validate collected data is conducted by telephone and email.

The ownership information is used to establish links between parent corporations and their subsidiaries, to define corporate ownership structures, and to determine the ultimate country of control for each corporate structure. This information is supplemented by research based on other publicly available sources which include web sites, gazettes, press clippings, as well as federal and provincial business registries.

Statistics Canada relies on information from Canada Revenue Agency administrative records to determine the country of control for non-sampled corporations. The non-sampled corporations tend to have simple corporate structures and are, for the most part, Canadian-controlled. The administrative records are maintained on Statistics Canada's Business Register.

Financial Data
The Industrial Organization and Finance Division's (IOFD) Financial and Taxation Statistics for Enterprises program combines three sources of financial data to form a census of the enterprises in the target population. Annualized data from IOFD's Quarterly Survey of Financial Statements (QFS) (record number 2501) provides consolidated data for the largest enterprises. Public Sector Statistics Division supplies data for provincial and federal level government business enterprises (record number 5174). Administrative Data Division supplies financial information for the remaining enterprises from T2 Corporation Income Tax Returns and the General Index of Financial Information (GIFI).

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

Error detection

At the record level, several checks are performed on the financial data to verify internal consistency and identify extreme values. Checks are also performed to ensure that financial data records have been assigned a country of control code and that this information is accurate.

Annual changes in the tabulated financial data are reviewed by industry and country of control. The largest changes are investigated and updates are made to the financial and country of control data as required. In addition, these data are analyzed for comparability with trends in related Statistics Canada data series and with general trends in the economy.


Imputation of the financial data for complete non-response is performed by two methods. The preferred and most common method makes use of historical information about the non-responding unit and current trends in principal characteristics of similar units. When historical information is not available, such as in the case of births, a donor of similar size and industry is substituted for the missing unit.


Annual data are obtained from one of three sources for each enterprise in the population of interest. Estimates are derived by tabulating the enterprise data for this population. These estimates are produced and published by industry and country of control.

Due to certain financial reporting constraints, data for enterprises in the insurance industry could not be obtained through the administrative data source. As a result, estimates for this industry are derived using QFS weighted estimates.

Quality evaluation

Before publication, the most current data are analyzed for comparability with their own historical trends, with trends observed in related Statistics Canada data series and with general trends in the economy.

Disclosure control

The confidentiality of the financial statistics is protected under the provisions of the Statistics Act.

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 aggregated 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.

Direct disclosure refers to when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by a few enterprises. Residual disclosure refers to when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.

Ownership information collected under the Corporation Returns Act is not confidential. For this reason, the individual corporate structures derived from the ownership data can be released in the product entitled Inter-corporate Ownership.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Each year, the previous year's data are revised. These data may be revised to include amended information or reports from respondents that are received after the end of a collection cycle.

Data accuracy

While considerable effort is made to ensure high standards throughout all collection and processing operations, the resulting estimates are inevitably subject to a certain degree of error. There are two types of errors in statistical information: sampling errors and non-sampling errors. Non-sampling errors are the only type that applies to this program, given that the estimates are based on a census of the population, and not a sample (with the exception of the insurance industry).

Non-sampling errors can arise from a variety of sources and are difficult to measure. Among non-sampling errors are response errors, such as gaps in the information provided by corporations in their returns, and errors in processing such as miscoding the industry of an enterprise.


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