Foreign control in the Canadian economy

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The value of foreign-controlled assets, revenues and profits in Canada all declined at a faster rate than those under domestic control in 2009. As a result, the share of foreign control in the Canadian economy declined in the case of all three measures.

Canadian-controlled asset values increased 1.3% in 2009, while those under foreign control fell 4.7%. Consequently, foreign-controlled enterprises accounted for 19.6% of assets in 2009, down from 20.6% in 2008.

Foreign-controlled revenues dropped 13.9% compared with a 7.0% decline for those under domestic control. As a result, the share of revenues under foreign control fell from 30.1% to 28.5%.

Operating profits for foreign-controlled enterprises fell 38.6% in 2009, twice the 19.0% decline for Canadian enterprises. Consequently, the share of profits under foreign control decreased from 24.9% to 20.1%. This was due mostly to the non-financial sector.

Non-financial industries

Among non-financial industries, foreign control declined in all three measures. The share of assets under foreign control fell from 27.3% in 2008 to 26.3% in 2009, while the corresponding share of revenues decreased from 31.0% to 29.4%. The share of foreign-controlled profits went from 26.5% to 20.0%.

Manufacturing remained the largest sector in terms of non-financial assets. It was also the sector with the biggest share of foreign-controlled assets, 53.1% in 2009, although this was down from 56.4% in 2008.

The value of assets for Canadian-controlled manufacturers rose 6.3%, while those under foreign control fell 6.7%.

The share of foreign-controlled manufacturing revenues declined to 50.3% as revenues fell at a faster pace for foreign-controlled manufacturers than they did for Canadian enterprises.

The share of operating profits for manufacturers under foreign control dropped from 48.2% to 32.2%, the lowest level in a decade. Declines in profits of United States- and European Union-controlled manufacturers contributed to a 56.9% decrease in foreign-controlled profits.

Note to readers

Under the authority of the Minister of Industry, Statistics Canada administers the Corporations Returns Act which requires the collection of financial and ownership information on corporations conducting business in Canada. This information is used to evaluate the extent of non-resident control of the Canadian corporate economy.

The Corporations Returns Act requires that an annual report be submitted to Parliament summarizing the extent to which foreign control is prevalent in Canada. The document being released today is the report for reference year 2009.

These statistics are compiled from enterprise level data. An enterprise can be a single corporation or a family of corporations under common ownership and/or control, for which consolidated financial statements are produced.

The three components used to measure foreign control are assets, operating revenues and operating profits.

Asset-based measures of foreign control provide a longer term perspective. Assets are a stock item, reflecting economic decisions and market conditions that evolve more slowly over time.

Revenue-based measures, on the other hand, represent a flow item and are closely tied to the business cycle. Revenues tend to reflect current business conditions, causing them to be more volatile than asset-based measures.

Profits are a measure of the financial health and well-being of an economy and can be used to assess its performance and sustainability.

In the oil and gas extraction industry, foreign-controlled enterprises increased their share of revenues to 51.1%. This occurred as revenues declined nearly twice as fast in 2009 for domestic enterprises as they did for foreign enterprises.

Finance and insurance industries

In the finance and insurance industries, foreign-controlled enterprises accounted for 13.4% of assets in 2009, down from 14.3% in 2008. Foreign enterprises held 20.4% of revenues, down from 21.5% in 2008, and 20.2% of operating profits, down from 20.6%.

Canadian-controlled assets among enterprises operating in Canada's financial sector increased 0.8% in 2009, compared with a 7.0% decline in assets for enterprises under foreign control.

Revenues and profits for both foreign and Canadian-controlled enterprises fell again in 2009, but the decline was deeper for the foreign-controlled.

Foreign-controlled shares of assets are relatively small because of regulations governing foreign control in the banking industry.

Foreign control by country

American-controlled enterprises continued to dominate the shares of assets, revenues and profits under foreign-control. These enterprises increased their share of both revenues and profits to 59.1% and 58.3%, respectively.

However, the United States-controlled share of assets fell to 51.6%, the result of declines in manufacturing, oil and gas extraction and the financial sector.

Enterprises controlled from the United Kingdom reported minor declines in asset shares. They held 22.2% of foreign-controlled assets in the financial sector, compared with 10.2% of non-financial assets.

Dutch-controlled enterprises represented the third-largest share of foreign assets in 2009 (7.1%).

Available on CANSIM: tables 179-0004 and 179-0005.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 2503.

The report Corporations Returns Act, 2009 (61-220-X, free), is now available from the Key Resources module of our website under Publications.

For more information, or to order data, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-888-811-6235; 613-951-2604; To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Jason Leonard (613-951-5593;, Industrial Organization and Finance Division.