Canadian System of Environmental and Resource Accounts - Material and Energy Flow Accounts (MEFA)

Detailed information for 2003





Record number:


Material and energy flow accounts record, in physical terms only, the flows of materials and energy - in the form of natural resources and wastes - between the economy and the environment. They are directly linked to the input-output accounts of the Canadian System of National Accounts (CSNA). This linkage enables the calculation of key indicators of the resource and waste intensity of economic activity.

Data release - July 3, 2008


The Material and Energy Flow Accounts (MEFA) record in substantial detail the annual flows of materials and energy - in the form of resources and wastes - between the Canadian economy and the environment. These flows are related to the activities of industries, households and governments, and they are recorded as such in the accounts. Data for over 100 industries, plus a wide array of household and government activities are presented. The MEFA share their classifications of industries, households and governments with Statistics Canada's Input-Output Accounts. This allows the environmental data in the MEFA to be linked directly and easily with the economic data found in the Input-Output Accounts, adding value to both data sets.

Material and energy flow accounts have been developed for energy use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

These statistics are being used in economic-environmental modelling (e.g., the greenhouse gas and energy use accounts have been used when assessing climate change options and economic impacts) and for studies on eco-efficiency and resource and waste intensities (e.g., waste and energy intensity of industrial output, multi-factor productivity analysis). Users are pleased that these accounts are compatible with the traditional national economic accounts, as this greatly facilitates the integration of the environmental data into their macroeconomic models.

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.

The Canadian System of Environmental-Economic Accounts provides a conceptually integrated framework of statistics (in physical and monetary terms) and analysis for studying the relationship between the environment and human and economic activity. It presents detailed statistics describing 1) the size of Canada's natural resource stocks and their contribution to national wealth; 2) the extraction of these same resources and their disposition among businesses, households, governments and the rest of the world; 3) the generation of various wastes (liquid, solid and gaseous) by industries, households and governments and the management of these wastes; and 4) the expenditures made by businesses, households and governments for the purposes of protecting the environment. The accounts are, to the greatest extent possible, compatible with the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (CSMA). They were developed in response to the need to better monitor the relationship between economic activity and the environment.


  • Economic accounts
  • Environment
  • Environmental and resource accounts
  • Input-output 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 collected from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

All this information is compiled, integrated and analysed as part of the process of producing material and energy flow estimates.

The main data source is the Input-Output Accounts of the CSNA.

Major suppliers of data within Statistics Canada are Industry Accounts Division, Manufacturing, Construction and Energy Division, Transportation Division and Environment Accounts and Statistics Division. Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada are the main external data providers.

Error detection

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


This methodology does not apply.


The Material and Energy Flow Accounts (MEFA) share their classifications of industries, households and governments with the Input-Output Accounts of the CSNA. Empirical development of the MEFA has been focused on energy, water and greenhouse gases. The methods used to estimate flows of these resources and wastes in MEFA are described in the link "Canadian System of Environmental and Resource Accounts - Material and Energy Flow Accounts: Estimation" in the Documentation section below.

Quality evaluation

The quality of the estimates produced is ascertained using time series consistency analysis, as well as analysis of the coherence of the estimates with current economic events and with related data from other programs. Issues arising from the source data are also identified and corrected where appropriate.

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

Material and energy flow accounts for energy and greenhouse gases are updated annually. However, since the very detailed Input-Output Accounts require a long compilation period, preliminary estimates of those accounts could be published up to 42 months after the reference year. The water use account has been produced in 1981, 1986, 1991 and 1996.

Material and energy flow estimates are revised when those for subsequent years are published. Revisions are made back one year; they are not normally revised again except when historical revisions are carried out.

Seasonal adjustment is not necessary given that the calculations of material and energy flow estimates are only performed on an annual basis.

Data accuracy

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 an analytical assessment of the data sources and methodology used in the preparation of the estimates.

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