Federal Science Expenditures and Personnel, Activities in the Social Sciences and Natural Sciences

Detailed information for 2023/2024





Record number:


This survey collects financial and operating data on expenditures and full-time equivalent personnel on the scientific activities of Federal Government Public Administration in Canada.

Data release - June 6, 2023 (Intentions)


This survey collects science and technology data describing the actual, preliminary and intentions of federal resources allocated to the social sciences, humanities and the arts as well as the natural sciences and engineering.

Science and technology activities (S&T) comprise two types of scientific activities: research and development, and related scientific activities. They can be defined as all systematic activities which are directly related with the generation, advancement, dissemination and application of scientific and technical knowledge in all fields of science and technology.

Research and development (R&D) comprises creative and systematic work undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge— including knowledge of humankind, culture and society—and to devise new applications of available knowledge. R&D activities must satisfy all five of the following core criteria: They are aimed at new findings (novel).

1. They are based on original, not obvious, concepts and hypothesis (creative).
2. They are uncertain about the final outcome (uncertainty).
3. They are planned and budgeted (systematic).
4. They lead to results that could be possibly reproduced (transferable/or reproducible).

Related scientific activities (RSA) are all systematic activities which are directly related with the generation, advancement, dissemination and application of scientific and technological knowledge. RSA activities generally include:

• General purpose data collection, which excludes the collection of data as part of an R&D project.
• Information services - collecting, coding, analyzing, evaluating, recording, classifying, translating and disseminating scientific and technological information
• Special surveys and studies - systematic investigations carried out in order to provide information needed for planning or policy formulation.
• Education supports - grants to support the post-secondary education of students in technology and the social sciences.

Natural sciences and engineering consist of all disciplines concerned with understanding, exploring, developing or utilizing the natural world. Included are the engineering and technology, mathematical, computer and information sciences, physical sciences, medical and health science, and agricultural sciences, veterinary sciences and forestry.

Social sciences, humanities and the arts consists of disciplines involving the study of human actions and conditions and the social, economic and institutional mechanisms affecting humans. Included are such disciplines as arts, economics and business, education, history and archeology, law, language and linguistics, media and communications, philosophy, ethics and religion, psychology and cognitive sciences, social and economic geography, and sociology.

The performer is equivalent to the sector in which the scientific activity is conducted. The basic distinction is between intramural and extramural performance.

Intramural (in-house) activities include all current expenditures incurred for scientific activities carried out by in-house personnel of units assigned to the program, the related gross fixed capital expenditures (acquisition of land, buildings, machinery and equipment for scientific activities); the administration of scientific activities by program employees and the purchase of goods and services to support in-house scientific activities (include royalties or licences for the use of patents and other intellectual property rights, the lease of capital goods (machinery and equipment, etc.) and the rental of buildings to support scientific activities performed by the statistical unit in the reference year.

The intramural expenditures reported for scientific activities are those direct costs, including salaries, associated with scientific programs. The costs should include that portion of a program's contribution to employee benefit plans (e.g., superannuation and compensation) which is applicable to the scientific personnel within the program. The summation of intramural R&D activity is synonymous with the performance of R&D for the entire economy (GERD).

Extramural (outsourced) activities include all expenditures incurred by the federal government's agencies and departments for scientific activities carried out by the five following performers: business enterprises, higher education, Canadian non-profit institutions, provincial and municipal governments and foreign performers.

Full-time equivalent (FTE) is the personnel expressed as a ratio of working hours actually spent on scientific activities during a specific reference period divided by the total number of hours conventionally worked in the same period by an individual or a group. For example, an employee who is engaged in scientific activities for half a year has a full-time equivalence of 0.5

Scientific and professional personnel (also called researchers) are professionals engaged in the conception or creation of new knowledge. They conduct research and improve or develop concepts, models and methods. Managers and administrators who plan and manage the scientific and technical aspects of a researcher's work, as well as graduate students, are also included.

Technical personnel perform scientific and technical tasks involving the application of concepts and operational methods in one or more fields of natural sciences and engineering or social sciences, humanities and the arts, normally under the supervision of researchers.

Other personnel (also noted as Support staff) includes skilled and unskilled workers, and administrative, secretarial and clerical staff directly associated with research and development projects.

The data collected are used by federal and provincial science policy analysts, and are also part of the gross domestic expenditures on research and development (GERD). The information may also be used by Statistics Canada for other statistical and research purposes.

Statistical activity

Research and experimental development includes systematic creative work to increase the body of knowledge, including knowledge of people, cultures and societies, and the use of this body of knowledge to create new applications.

Reference period: The Federal government of Canada's fiscal year running from April 1 to March 31 (e.g. for the reference year 2022/2023, the fiscal is between April 1st, 2022 and March 31, 2023)

Collection period: September to December


  • Government
  • Human resources in science and technology
  • Research and development
  • Science and technology

Data sources and methodology

Target population

Federal Government departments, agencies, commissions, boards and crown corporations either performing Science & Technology (S&T) activities or have a budgetary allocation to fund S&T.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was originally designed many years ago by Statistics Canada and other federal government departments. Since the original design dates back to the early 1960s, information on details of the questionnaire design, testing or focus groups is not available.

This questionnaire is designed to cover inputs to research and development (R&D) and related scientific activities (RSA) including source of funds, expenditures by activity, performer, socio-economic objective, and region as well as personnel engaged in science and technology. The latest revision to the questionnaire's definitions was completed in 2016 and approved by the Questionnaire Design Resource Centre (QDRC). The form conforms to guidelines established by the OECD in the Frascati Manual (2015).


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: 2022-09-09 to 2022-12-09

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

This is an annual mail-out /mail-back survey to all federal government departments and agencies believed to be performing or funding R&D or RSA.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

Data are edited to ensure internal and historical logic and consistency and analyzed for trends and validity.

Each survey response is manually edited at the micro level.

The edit procedures usually consist of:

- checking each field of every record to ascertain whether it contains a valid code or entry;
- checking codes or entries in certain predetermined combinations of fields to ascertain whether codes or entries are consistent with one another. Although there are a number of edits, all cases of failed edit checks are corrected after consideration by editors.


Missing data are manually imputed using internal ratios or previous returns.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

Data are edited and analyzed to ensure internal and historical logic and consistency for quality assurance. Activities are not based on standard accounts or classifications and inputs, but on financial or personnel data and respondents must generally estimate the data. Every effort is made to ensure the quality of the data and consultations are frequently held with major departments, financial offices and/or science offices via meetings or telephone to verify or improve the quality of data received.

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.

Respondents are also asked authorization to disclose any or all portions of the data supplied on this questionnaire. In the cases where authorization is declined, Statistics Canada will not publish any data that can identify the respondents.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Three years of data are collected each cycle. As such, revisions are made to the two latter years during each subsequent cycle.

Data accuracy

The data may be subject to coverage errors (errors resulting from undercoverage in the frame) and measurement errors (errors resulting from a difference between measured values and true values).

Survey managers have sought to minimize the occurrence of coverage errors by periodically updating the survey frame and including new respondents that are deemed to be involved in S&T activities. Processes in place to minimize measurement errors include training sessions on survey concepts for subject matter officers and survey respondents.

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