Quarterly Survey of Financial Statements (QSFS)

Detailed information for first quarter 2008





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 Macroeconomic Accounts sector accounts.

Data release - May 22, 2008


The data collected by the Quarterly Financial Statistics for Enterprises program 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 program 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 Macroeconomic Accounts (CSMA).

The second broad objective is to provide information on financial holdings and transactions in the CSMA sector accounts. The accounts comprise the National Balance Sheet Accounts and the Financial Flow Accounts. Within the CSMA, the Canadian economy is composed of the financial corporation sector, the non-financial corporation sector, the general governments sector, the non-residents sector, the household sector and the non-profit institutions serving households sector. The Quarterly Survey of Financial Statements data are combined with additional information for the business and other sectors in order to produce complete economy-wide accounts (Quarterly Financial Statistics for Enterprises) 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 program data 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 target population for the program is incorporated financial and non-financial business enterprises operating in the Canadian economy. An enterprise can be a single corporation or a family of corporations under common ownership and/or control, for which consolidated financial statements are produced. Excluded are business enterprises controlled by governments, non-profit enterprises and the industry of management of companies and enterprises. There are roughly 1.5 million enterprises in scope for the program.

The target population consists of two components: a sampled portion and a non-sampled portion. The sample target population captures the largest enterprises within an industry. The sample target population is determined through the use of thresholds - asset and operating revenue thresholds for non-financial enterprises; asset thresholds for financial industries. The size of the sample target population is roughly 25,000 enterprises.

For businesses below the sampling threshold (the non-sampled portion), estimates are derived by applying the quarter to quarter movement of sample responses to annual data compiled from Canada Revenue Agency financial statements. These estimates are referred to as take-none estimates as they are derived from administrative data. The model projects the value of the take-none portion of the population by the most detailed industry aggregation using estimates from the surveyed population and other parameters.

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, 14 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. Once a final version of the revised questionnaire is approved, 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, extracted from administrative files and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

Administrative tax data are used for the non-survey portion. Company financial statements and online data sources are used as supplemental information to help address non-response.

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 are 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 have been collected, but for which historical data exist, these historical data, taken in conjunction with current economic conditions, are used to calculate current-period estimates. For those units for which no current data have been collected, and for which no historical data exist, 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).

Quality evaluation

A process of reconciliation is used to ensure that the quarterly series is consistent with the levels of the annual Financial and Taxation Statistics for Enterprises program (AFTS). The AFTS is based on a set 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.

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.

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

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 1999, the Quarterly Financial Statistics series uses "end-point" seasonal adjustment, which recalculates seasonal factors each quarter as more recent data becomes available. For a more complete description of these features, refer to "X11ARIMA v. 2000 -Seasonal Adjustment Method Foundations and User's Manual."

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.

Beginning with the first quarter of 2008 publication, the quarterly financial series switched from the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS Canada 2002) to NAICS 2007. Prior to first quarter 2004, NAICS Canada 1997 was used along with a set of industrial aggregations consisting of 157, 58 and 24 groups. Currently, the set of industrial aggregations consist of 67, 48 and 22 industry groups, and a group of 10 financial instruments. Historical data on a NAICS Canada 2007 basis were created using a concordance that converted the old NAICS Canada 2002 codes to the new NAICS Canada 2007 codes.

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 the 67 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 67 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.


Date modified: