Corporations Returns Act (CRA)

Detailed information for 1999





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 of non-resident control in the Canadian economy.

Data release - June 19, 2002


The Corporations Returns Act is administered by Statistics Canada under the authority of the Minister of Industry. 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 summarised in an annual report to Parliament. In addition, the ownership information is used to define corporate ownership structures which are released in a CD-ROM product entitled Inter-corporate Ownership.

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

Reference period: Fiscal year

Collection period: 90 days within fiscal year-end.


  • Business ownership
  • Business performance and ownership

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population covers all incorporated enterprises in Canada including federal and provincial government business enterprises but excluding enterprises classified under the 2002 North American Industry Classification System to Management of Companies and Enterprises (NAICS 55), Religious Organisations (NAICS 8131), Political Organisations (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.

An enterprise is a single corporation or a family of corporations under common ownership or control, for which consolidated financial statements are produced.


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

Corporations conducting business in Canada or that are incorporated under a law of Canada or a province, whose gross revenue for the reporting period exceeded $15 million, or whose assets exceeded $10 million are required to provide financial and control information to Statistics Canada. In calculating these amounts, each corporation must include the assets and sales of its affiliates as defined in the Act. In addition, individual corporations with assets and sales under these amounts but having long-term debt or equity owing directly or indirectly to non-residents exceeding a book value of $200,000 must also provide control information.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

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

The survey questionnaire collects information about the ownership of voting shares in a corporation so that a country of control can be assigned to that corporation. This is done in accordance with the Corporations Returns Act.

Control information is obtained primarily through ownership returns filed by corporations liable under the Corporations Returns Act (CRA). Additional control information is obtained from both Canadian and international publications.

Financial information is derived from the following three sources:
- Annualized data from the Quarterly Survey of Financial Statistics for Enterprises (QFS) (record number 2501).
- Data on provincial and federal level Government Business Enterprises (GBE) operating in the business sector, collected at the enterprise level, obtained from the Public Institutions Division of Statistics Canada.
- Administrative corporate taxation data in the form of the General Index of Financial Information (GIFI) obtained from the Tax Data Division at Statistics Canada that is collected at the non-consolidated single legal entity level and rolled up.

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

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.

Direct disclosure could occur when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by a few enterprises. Residual disclosure could occur 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 a CD product entitled Inter-Corporate Ownership.

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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