Consolidated Government Financial Assets and Liabilities
Detailed information for 2008
The objective of this program is the consolidation of the financial asset and liability data of the federal government, the provincial and territorial general governments and non-autonomous pension plans, and local governments. The financial asset and liability data of the Canada and Quebec pension plans are also presented.
Data release - March 25, 2009 (Federal government); January 26, 2010 (Provincial and Territorial); May 3, 2010 (consolidated government finance) (see note below the Documentation section)
- Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s)
- Data sources and methodology
- Data accuracy
In Canada for assets and liabilities "consolidated government" is the general term used for the consolidation of the data of the federal government, provincial and territorial general governments and non-autonomous pension plans, and local governments. Consolidation is about combining the financial accounts of units within a government, or combining the financial accounts of different levels of governments (federal, provincial, territorial or local), in such a way, to yield aggregate unduplicated financial statistics. Consolidating data is a way of presenting financial data for a number of government units as if they were one unit. There are two basic dimensions of consolidation. The first is the choice of entities to be included in any given consolidation (i.e., coverage), for Canada, the entities are derived from the Public Sector Universe. The other dimension is the accounting rules used to actually perform the consolidation, that is the elimination of the transactions between the units being consolidated in order to avoid double counting. More information on the types of entities included in government is included in the additional documentation for the 'Public Sector statistical program' described in the Statistical activity section below.
The essential benefit of the Financial Management System (FMS) conceptual framework and consolidation resides in inter-government comparability. Each government maintains its own accounts in a way that best serves its own purposes. The result is that the public accounts published by all governments can neither be combined nor compared. The size of the surplus/ deficit or net financial debt in one province cannot be meaningfully compared to the size of the surplus/deficit or net financial debt in another. In order for consolidation to proceed, the accounts of the entities to be included in the consolidation must be expressed according to a single accounting standard. If they are not on a common accounting standard, they must be converted to a common standard before consolidation can take place. The accounts consolidated on the basis of the Financial Management System (FMS), by applying the same rules and procedures to the financial data of all governments, yield numbers that are comparable. The FMS is an accounting standard with imbedded, standard statistical classifications unique to the public sector. With FMS consolidated statistics, it is possible to compare the state of one province's finances with those of another. Similarly, it is possible to compare the state of the federal government's finances with those of any one province or with those of all provinces combined. A more detailed description of the FMS system and Consolidated Government Statistics is provided in the Documentation section below.
The government data are not only classified according to the FMS classification but also coded according to the Canadian System of National Accounts (CSNA). The consolidated government data are used by a wide variety of economists and industry analysts in both the private and government sectors. They are also used in two broad ways: through the FMS system, they provide a comparable measure of the financial position of government sector components and sub-components; through the CSNA classification, they are used for the quarterly estimates of the Government Sector in the Canadian System of National Accounts (CSNA).
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 'Public Sector statistical program' is a component of the Canadian System of National Accounts (CSNA). The program measures and analyses the economic dimensions of the public sector of Canada, including the multidimensional financial interrelationships 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 Public Sector Statistics Division (PSSD) maintains a universe of all public sector entities including their innumerable relationships. It also develops, maintains, and applies the Financial Management System (FMS). The FMS is an accounting standard with imbedded, standard statistical classifications unique to the public sector.
The Public Sector Statistics Division (PSSD) of Statistics Canada is responsible for Statistics Canada's statistical information related to the public sector.
Reference period: All data, except those for local governments, are as at March 31. The local government data are as at the end of the fiscal year closest to December 31.
Collection period: Beginning of October to the end of March
- Balance sheets
- Economic accounts
- Government financial statistics
Data sources and methodology
The target population consists of all institutional units controlled and mainly financed by governments (federal, provincial, territorial, and local) in Canada except their business enterprises. The population covers all the government component of the Public Sector Universe. The Public Sector Universe includes governments (federal, provincial, territorial, local), the Canada and Quebec pension plans (CPP and QPP), the First Nations and other aboriginal government. The government component includes all ministries, departments, agencies, non-autonomous funds and organizations, universities and colleges, health and social service institutions and school boards.
Institutional units are comparable to enterprises in the Statistics Canada hierarchical structure of business units. Institutional units are economic entities that are capable, in their own right, of owning assets, incurring liabilities, and engaging in economic activities and transactions with other entities. Control may take the form of full ownership of the institutional unit or a majority holding of the voting shares. The availability of a complete set of annual financial statements is a prerequisite in order for an entity to be classified as an institutional unit within the Government component of the Public Sector Universe.
Data on federal and provincial/territorial governments as well as the Canada and Quebec Pension plans (CPP and QPP) are entirely obtained from administrative data sources.
Some data concerning the local government financial assets and liabilities are obtained by means of a questionnaire. For local governments, the most recent data are obtained through a survey as financial statements (obtained through the provincial/territorial departments of municipal affairs) are not available until 2 to 3 years after the reference year. Questionnaire content and wording are reviewed annually to reflect changes in the availability of information and to incorporate additional dimensions to fulfill Statistics Canada needs.
This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.
Data are obtained from a census of institutional units of all levels and components of government in Canada as defined by the Public Sector Universe (PSU) with the exception of health and social services institutions, universities and colleges, and the First Nations and other aboriginal governments. The PSU contains all institutional units controlled and mainly financed by government. The PSU is maintained up-to-date by using public accounts, other financial statements, and web sites of federal, provincial/territorial and local governments in Canada. There is no attempt to estimate asset and liability data for health and social services institutions, universities and colleges, and the First Nations and other aboriginal governments.
Responding to this survey is mandatory.
Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files.
Data on federal and provincial/territorial governments as well as the Canada and Quebec Pension plans (CPP and QPP) are entirely obtained from administrative data sources. Data on local governments are obtained from administrative data sources and four questionnaires.
The data are compiled for the entire government sector population, as enumerated by the Public Institutions Division with the exception of health and social services Institutions, universities and colleges, and the First Nations and other aboriginal governments. This is made possible by utilizing publicly available audited financial statements, public accounts, and other administrative information available from federal, provincial, territorial, and local governments and their agencies. This administrative information is supplemented by financial details provided directly by the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and in the case of local governments, by financial details obtained from questionnaires.
The concepts and definitions for most federal, provincial, territorial, and local governments are based on the guidelines of the Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB) of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA). Accounting practices are in accordance with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA).
Information from available data sources is essentially presented in inconsistent formats containing different sets of variables. In order to merge the data, it is necessary to transform these data sources into a common set of variables that comprise complete financial statement information. Certain details are omitted in the process due to the unavailability of data from all sources.
Quality control is the responsibility of the Public Sector Statistics Division (formerly Public Institutions Division) of Statistics Canada.
View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).
Most of the data come from audited financial statements of governments; therefore, minimal error detection is required. The data goes through several automated and manual checks to verify internal consistency, balance to control totals and identify extreme values. Current year data is also compared to prior years to ensure consistency.
For non-response units, imputation is performed using historical information.
The coverage of the federal and local government and the provincial and territorial general government population is virtually complete. Imputation for non-response varies by government sub-component, but for all components, the imputation rate is less than 1%. Similarly, the overall impact of imputation on major financial variables is also less than 1%. No attempt is made to estimate for health and social services Institutions, universities and colleges, and the First Nations and other aboriginal governments.
Estimates are derived from the compilation of data obtained from the data sources for each institutional unit in the population of interest.
The following processes are used to optimize accuracy:
1. Getting the detail:
Published public accounts and local government financial statements do not always contain the detail needed to precisely convert public accounts entries required for the FMS and CSNA classifications. Generally speaking, the greater the detail in the source data, the greater the precision in applying classification codes. The practice is to first obtain the public accounts and then to approach individual governments and solicit the additional detail required to accurately apply the classifications. Increasingly, data are obtained from governments electronically. This enhances accuracy in two ways. One, it eliminates the possibility of transcription errors inherent in using printed public accounts and the solicited supplementary financial detail on paper. Secondly, the electronic data file often contains far more detail than the paper products they replace and this permits the application of classifications to detailed data resulting in greater precision.
2. Quality control on processing:
Once public accounts publications and financial statements are obtained and combined with supplementary information, there are many transactions required to transform these raw data into CSNA and FMS estimates. Strict quality control is maintained on all of these transactions such as historical continuity, data validation, and data confrontation.
3. Financial assets of a government component that are liabilities of another government component:
Since the program covers all financial assets of governments (including those financial assets that are liabilities of another government) and liabilities (including those liabilities that are financial assets of other governments), the two are matched and disparities are addressed since these transactions must be eliminated in the consolidation process. The matching of these two records enables us to detect disparities, and when these disparities constitute errors, to correct them.
In the production of consolidated financial assets and liabilities of the federal, provincial and territorial, and local governments, all financial assets of a government component that are liabilities of another government component are eliminated or netted to avoid double counting. A similar process is done in the production of consolidated provincial, territorial, and local government financial assets and liabilities by province.
The analysis of data that occurs before publication includes a detailed review of the individual responses (especially for the largest institutional units), a review of general economic conditions as well as historic trends and comparisons with original public accounts data before the conversion to the Financial Management System (FMS). Any anomaly is verified and resolved before data are published. An example of this cross-check occurs in the annual benchmarking of the government sector data with the Canadian System of National Accounts via the Input-Output Tables and the Gross Domestic Product series. The relevance of government finance statistics for the other parts of CSNA derives from the fact that governments are simply very large players in the economy whose financial transactions have to be included in the national accounts like any other large industry *.
*More detailed information on the CSNA, Public Sector, Input/Output tables, Gross Domestics Product, the benchmarking process in the CSNA, is included in the additional documentation for the CSNA "Statistical activity" section above.
Given that all government data are re-calculated based on a common framework, the Financial Management System, surplus/deficit and debt statistics published by each individual government will not correspond to the numbers published by the Public Institution Division of Statistics Canada. The final data are reconciled with the published public accounts (and local government financial statements) from which they are derived.
These final data are sent to the respective provincial and territorial governments and the federal government data is sent to Finance Canada for comment before being published, along with a reconciliation statement showing how the FMS data relate to public accounts data of the individual government. Due to the sensitivity of the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to the major aggregate presented in these data, this process of consulting with the data providers gives a validated assurance that the main data aggregates are accurate and that the public accounts data have been interpreted correctly.
For more information on these reconciliations, follow the link below.
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.
Revisions and seasonal adjustment
In the case of government FMS based statistics, data for all years are based primarily on the public accounts for the federal, provincial and territorial governments, and audited financial statements of federal and provincial and territorial agencies and local governments.
Data are released within nine months of the end of the reference period for the federal government, within 18 months of the end of the reference period for the provincial and territorial general governments and within 28 months of the end of the reference period for the local government and within 25 months for consolidated government.
Given initial data are based on public accounts/audited financial statements, there are very few revisions to the data.
The FMS uses the same revision policy as the Canadian Systems of National Accounts (CSNA). Each year, only the most current four years of data are subject to revision. Revision of data five or more years ago does not occur until the next historical revision as dictated by the CSNA. As a result, breaks in series are sometimes inevitable and footnotes are provided to warn the data user of any problems.
The data produced are derived from a multitude of entities in the government component of the Public Sector. Statistics Canada has no control over the accuracy of the input data at the time they are received, although it does have the advantage of subsequently having access to a full set of public accounts and audited financial documents. We ensure that no errors are introduced through automated checks that verify internal consistency and identify extreme values, and we apply procedures that maximise the error-detection possibilities inherent in the data.
The public accounts and local government financial statements are subject to audit and these audited accounts and statements form the benchmarks of data.
In 2003, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reviewed the government finance statistics program from Statistics Canada according to the observance of IMF standards and codes. The IMF has developed a set of 16 elements against which a specific Program is evaluated. For all 16 cases, except one, the IMF gave the highest level of observance for the Government Finance Statistics.
For additional information on data accuracy as well as for a summary of IMF's key findings, please follow the link below.
- User Guide: Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts
This guide provides a detailed explanation of the structure, concepts and history of the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts.
Last review: June 22, 2018
- Government Finance Statistics (GFS) : Record number 5174
- Consolidated government statistics
- Classification of Government Assets and Liabilities