Finances of Government Business Enterprises

Detailed information for 2011





Record number:


The objective of this program is to present annual statistics on the finances of the federal, provincial, territorial and local government business enterprises.

Data release - November 21, 2012 (This release includes revisions back to 2008 to incorporate the 2012 System of National Accounts Historical Revision.)


This program collects financial data from the government business enterprises (GBE) of all three levels of government, federal, provincial/territorial and local. Federal and provincial Government Business Enterprise statistics are presented using a modified version of the Statistics Canada Chart of Accounts (COA), a standardized tool for collection and dissemination of business statistics. The information is used as an input to the National Income and Expenditure Accounts as well as the Financial Flow Accounts within the Canadian System of National Accounts (CSNA).

Local Government business enterprise statistics are presented using the Financial Management System (FMS) which is an accounting standard with embedded, 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. This information is also used as an input to the National Income and Expenditure Accounts as well as the Financial Flow Accounts within the Canadian System of National Accounts (CSNA).

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 '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: Fiscal year for federal, provincial and territorial government business enterprises. Calendar year for local government business enterprises.

Collection period: Year round as financial statements are tabled.


  • Government
  • Government business enterprises
  • Government financial statistics

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population consists of all commercial institutional units controlled by governments (federal, provincial/territorial and local) in Canada. These institutional units are referred to as Government Business Enterprises (GBE's). The population covers all the government business enterprise component of the Public Sector Universe (PSU). The Public Sector Universe includes two major components; governments and GBE's. The government sector includes federal, provincial/territorial and local governments, the Canada and Quebec pension plans, the First Nations and other aboriginal governments. The government component includes all ministries, departments, agencies, non autonomous funds and organizations, universities and colleges, health and social service institutions and school boards.


This survey is a census.

Data are obtained from a census of all government business enterprises in Canada as defined by the Public Sector Universe. The PSU contains all institutional units under the control of the three levels of government and it is kept up-to-date by Public Sector Statistics Division through the public accounts, web sites and other audited financial statements of federal, provincial/territorial and local governments in Canada.

Data sources

Data are extracted from administrative files and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

No questionnaire, form or script exclusive to this statistical program is used in the collection of data. Data on federal and provincial/territorial government business enterprises are extracted from public accounts or other audited financial statements.

Data on local government business enterprises originate in financial statements of individual companies collected by several divisions of Statistics Canada and from provincial governments' departments of municipal affairs. Transportation Division collects information on public transit companies from the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA). Science, Innovation and Electronic Information Division collects information from the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commissions (CRTC) for telephone companies. The Public Sector Statistics Division collects financial statements from electricity distributors in Ontario while the Manufacturing, Construction and Energy Division collects the financial statements of other provincial/territorial electricity distributors. The Public Sector Statistics Division also gathers financial statements directly from gas distribution companies and, in Alberta, indirectly through the government of Alberta.

The financial data collected under the federal, provincial/territorial and local GBEs finance program are compiled under the guidelines and concepts of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) handbook. Accounting practices are in accordance with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) of the CICA.

Error detection

Data collected under this statistical program originates from audited financial statements of government business enterprises; therefore, minimal error detection is required. The data goes through several automated and manual checks to verify internal consistency and identify extreme values. Current year data is also compared to prior years to ensure consistency.


Since this statistical program is a census of all GBEs, the coverage of the public sector population is complete. However, sometimes certain information needed for the statistical program is missing from the financial statements. Imputation is then performed for certain information not provided. For non-response, imputation is performed using historical information where historical information is available; otherwise donor imputation is used. The donor imputation procedure involves using available auxiliary information to substitute the data from an entity with similar characteristics. Imputation for non-response is usually small with very little statistical significance.


Estimates are derived from the compilation of data obtained from the data sources for each government business enterprises.

The following processes are used to optimize accuracy:

1. Getting the detail:
Published government business enterprise financial statements do not always contain the detail needed to precisely convert financial statement entries required for the FMS, COA 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 financial statements and then to approach individual governments and solicit the additional detail required to accurately apply the classifications.

2. Quality control on processing;
Once financial statement publications are obtained and combined with supplementary information, there are many transactions required to transform these raw data into COA, CSNA and FMS estimates. Strict quality control is maintained on all of these transactions such as historical continuity, data validation and data confrontation.

3. Transfers -- matching expenditures to receipts;
Because the program covers all expenditures (including transfers to parent governments) and all revenue sources (including receipts of transfers from parent governments), the two are reconciled and disparities are addressed. Transfer payments come from the records of the donor entity and transfer income comes from the records of the recipient entity. The matching of these two records enables us to detect disparities, and when these disparities constitute errors, to correct them.

Quality evaluation

The analysis of data that occurs before publication includes a detailed review of the individual entities (especially for the largest government business enterprises), a review of general economic conditions and significant economic events as well as checks for time series consistency and comparisons with original financial statements. Transactions between a government business enterprise and its parent government are sometimes reported slightly differently in either entity's financial presentation due to the differences in accounting methods used in their preparation. By comparing both presentations, a more accurate integration of financial transactions by the government business enterprise sector into FMS and COA concepts is measured. The relevance of government business enterprise 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 Domestic Product, the benchmarking process in the CSNA, is included in the additional documentation for the CSNA "Statistical activity" section above.

Given that all government business enterprises data are re-calculated based on a common framework, the Financial Management System for local GBEs and the COA for federal, provincial and territorial GBEs, net income (loss) and debt statistics published by each individual government will not exactly correspond to the numbers published by the Public Sector Statistics Division of Statistics Canada.

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.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Input data from audited financial statements are subject to their release by the respective entities and governments. For Statistics Canada's purpose, no provision is made to revise data due to prior-year restatements in the presentation of financial statements by GBEs.

The treatment of certain financial items and transactions can be subject to revision as provincial and territorial governments release their public accounts data and the process of comparing transfer payments between governments and their GBEs is finalized. To this end, Statistics Canada has adopted a one-year revision cycle to allow for these revisions. There are no seasonal adjustments made to GBE data.

Data accuracy

The data produced are derived from a multitude of entities in the government business enterprises 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 eventually having access to 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 maximize the error-detection possibilities inherent in the data.

While considerable effort was made to ensure high standards throughout all data gathering of administrative records, the resulting estimates are inevitably subject to a certain degree of error.

There are two categories of errors in statistical information - sampling errors and non-sampling errors. Non-sampling errors are the only type that applies to the federal, provincial, territorial and local GBE data of this program, given that there was no sampling process used to produce these data.

Non-sampling errors can arise from a variety of sources and are difficult to measure and their importance can differ according to the purpose to which the data are being put. Among non-sampling errors are gaps in the information provided by public sector bodies and errors in processing, such as data capture. An effort has been made to minimize non-sampling errors in a number of ways including, continually updating the universe, performing edits on data during and after data capture, increasing efforts to reduce non-response, and maintaining ongoing communication with data suppliers.

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