Financial Information of Elementary and Secondary Schools (FINESS)

Detailed information for 2020





Record number:


The objective of this annual survey is to collect financial information on school boards and districts across Canada. These financial statistics are collected from each province and territory and are converted to a standard classification and to a calendar year.

Data release - January 24, 2023


These data are required by many organizations and include stakeholders from both inside and outside of Statistics Canada. The information collected from this survey, as well as the other finance surveys, gives governments and various associations involved in the field of education, information which assists in the formulation of education policy. External users of this data include federal government departments which of course are also data providers.

Other divisions within Statistics Canada also use these data "indirectly" as inputs into their statistical programs, for example, annual benchmarks are produced for sub-annual surveys of labour income and to feed the System of National Accounts and the Public Institutions Division. Data from this survey are also used to feed information to international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Moreover, these data are also used as inputs to the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program, as well as the Canadian Social Trends publication.

Reference period: Calendar year

Collection period: January to January


  • Education finance
  • Education, training and learning

Data sources and methodology

Target population

This survey covers all elementary and secondary school boards or districts in all provinces and territories across Canada.

Instrument design

Not applicable.


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

Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore, no sampling is done.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2022-05-31 to 2022-12-31

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are extracted from administrative files.

Contacts within each of the appropriate Provincial/Territorial education ministries are sent a request for revenue and expenditure data as reported by the school boards and districts within their jurisdiction. As the data becomes available, collection and verification is done by the survey manager and then processed by the Operations and Integration Division.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Section collects official data on school board revenue and expenses, along with any other relevant information, from the education department of each province and territory. The information is provided as provincial summary totals. A form is used by Statistics Canada to transcribe the information provided by the provinces.

Error detection

Edit programs are implemented both during and after data capture. At the data capture stage, the failure of an edit rule requires or suggests that the respondent be re-contacted. However, most edit rules are implemented after data capture to flag for survey non-response and missing or invalid data.


Three imputation strategies are implemented to adjust for survey non-response and missing or invalid data. In order of implementation, these are:

-Historic imputation using data from the previous survey(s);
-donor imputation using the current survey's data (for partial or complete non-response);
-re-weighting, by province/territory, when an observation cannot be imputed using the previous two methods.


Upon compilation of the administrative data, weighted adjustments are applied to the line items where the necessary detail was not originally reported. These weighted adjustments are based on estimates provided to us directly from the respondents. The weighted adjustments are then compared against other reporting entities and the national average to ensure the data provided are consistent with the values already made available by other respondents.

In order to provide data which reflects a uniform time frame, the data are "calendarized" based on either the respondents reporting year end or weights provided directly by the respondents.

The estimate of school district revenues and expenditures in Nunavut are calculated based on the historical data received when figures for the Nunavut region were included in the Northwest Territories' financial data. The estimates remain included in the data received by the Northwest Territories and are adjusted for growth in total expenditures.

Quality evaluation

Uniformity of the information is assured since the Elementary and Secondary Education Section compiles the data itself. Moreover, before finalizing or releasing the data each year, they are compared to the previous year's figures by the survey manager using percentage increases or decreases of the dollar amounts. Relatively large increases or decreases, by province, expenditure type and by revenue type are investigated and there may be call-backs to the provincial contacts if warranted. Data from this survey can be checked with other published sources. For example, if a ministry or department of education in a particular province/territory shows or announces, in its Public Accounts, general increases in public school contributions during the year and the Statistics Canada survey rather shows a decrease, then further investigation or research would be made.

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

Revisions are reported when material improvements have been made in the accuracy of the previously released data. Respondents submit revisions based on changes in their application of accounting principles and the survey definitions. All revisions submitted by respondents are evaluated based on their impact on the data and the effect on future analysis.

Data accuracy

Non-sampling errors may have the largest impact on the accuracy of the data collected with this survey. The data capture process involves a high degree of manual processing which may result in errors. The misinterpretation of the survey definitions can also lead to inaccurate results. Considerable effort has been made to create a system where these errors are detected before dissemination, and any inconsistencies are reviewed with the survey respondents.

Response rates:
The response rate is 93%.

Non-sampling error:
Assigned analysts take part in multiple levels of verification in order to reduce potential non-sampling errors. The highest potential for these response errors stem from different interpretations of the survey definitions. This risk is mitigated by the relationship that has been created with the respondents, whereby an open dialogue exists to respond to questions and concerns.

In addition, there are various checks that take place during the data capture process. Specifically, in any cases of outliers, the survey team performs follow ups with the respondent to ensure the value reported is correct. The data files used in the production of this data also incorporate check figures to ensure tabulation is done correctly.

Non-response bias:
The estimated revenue and expenditure information for the Nunavut school districts represents less than 1% of the total revenues and expenditures of school boards and districts in Canada. The survey team is currently in the process of creating a system to collect and disseminate actual data for this respondent.

Coverage error:
When changes occur in the number and/or structure of reporting entities, the assigned analysts are notified directly by the respondents. These changes are also verified against the corresponding audited financial statements.

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