National balance sheet accounts

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Fourth quarter of 2011 (Previous release)

National net worth increased 0.8% to $6.6 trillion in the fourth quarter, as a result of higher values of non-financial assets. National wealth was $6.8 trillion while non-resident claims were $0.2 trillion.

National net worth

National net worth

Chart description: National net worth

National net worth on a per capita basis increased to $190,900 in the fourth quarter from $189,700 in the third quarter. Non-financial assets were up $60 billion to $6.8 trillion in the fourth quarter, which accounted for the change in national net worth. This increase was moderated by the increase in Canada's net foreign debt, as growth in international liabilities outpaced that of international assets.

Rise in share values increases household net worth

Household net worth was up nearly 1% in the fourth quarter, led by gains in the values of household holdings of equities (including mutual funds) and pension assets. The increase in equities reflected a 2.9% rise in the Standard and Poor's / Toronto Stock Exchange composite index, following a 12% decrease in the third quarter. Per capita household net worth rose to $182,100 in the fourth quarter from $180,600 in the third quarter.

Note to readers

Canadian publicly traded companies have begun their transition to International Financial Reporting Standards in the first quarter of 2011. As all companies adopt the new reporting standards over the next quarters, this will have an affect on the National Balance Sheet Accounts (NBSA). For more information on some of these impacts, consult the following article: "Impact of new accounting standards on the Financial and Wealth Accounts."

The NBSA comprise the balance sheets of all sectors of the economy: the persons and unincorporated business (households), corporate, government, and non-resident sectors. They cover all national non-financial assets and financial claims and their associated liabilities outstanding in all sectors.

National net worth is national wealth less net foreign liabilities (that is, what is owed to non-residents less what non-residents owe to Canadians). Alternatively, it is the sum of the net worth of the persons and unincorporated business, corporate, and government sectors.

Household credit market debt comprises consumer credit, mortgage, and loan debt of households, non-profit institutions serving households, and unincorporated businesses.

Corporate equity is treated as a liability on the balance sheet of the corporate sector since it represents a claim by shareholders on the corporate sector. As a result, as equity prices increase, corporate net worth will tend to decline, reflecting the increase in the corporate sector's equity liabilities.

The historical revision to the Canadian National Accounts is scheduled for release beginning in October 2012. A schedule of releases has been posted on the National economic accounts website. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.

For more information, contact the information officer (

Household sector assets

Household sector assets

Chart description: Household sector assets

Household credit market debt increased in the fourth quarter despite a slower rate of borrowing in consumer credit and mortgages. This led to an increase in the ratio of credit market debt to net worth to 25.3% from 25.2% in the third quarter. The debt service ratio was unchanged in the fourth quarter. The ratio of credit market debt to personal disposable income declined to 150.6% in the fourth quarter from 151.9% in the third quarter as personal disposable income increased at a faster rate than credit market debt.

Government net debt up

Total government net debt (expressed at book value) increased to $812 billion in the fourth quarter from $794 billion in the third quarter. The ratio of total government net debt to gross domestic product rose to 47.3% from 46.8%. In the third quarter of 2008, this ratio was 35.7%, and has increased for 13 consecutive quarters.

The increase in government debt largely reflected an increase in federal bond issues, which outpaced redemptions of short-term paper.

Private non-financial corporate debt to equity down

The ratio of total private non-financial corporation credit market debt to equity (expressed at book value) eased to 54.2% in the fourth quarter, continuing a downward trend from 2008. The decline during the fourth quarter was largely caused by strong growth in corporate undistributed earnings, as the rate of share issuances and borrowing were lower in the quarter.

Corporate debt-to-equity

Corporate debt-to-equity

Chart description: Corporate debt-to-equity

Value of assets held by financial institutions increases

Assets of lending institutions and institutional investors (such as trusteed pension plans and mutual funds) increased over 1% in the fourth quarter, primarily reflecting gains in their holdings of Canadian equities. This was further supported by stronger gains on foreign equity, although these were dampened by the impact of the appreciation of the Canadian dollar on foreign currency denominated assets.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables 378-0012 to 378-0014 and 378-0049 to 378-0116.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 1806.

The National economic accounts module, accessible from the Key resource module of our website, features an up-to-date portrait of national and provincial economies and their structure.

The fourth quarter 2011 National Balance Sheet Accounts: Data Tables, Vol. 4, no. 4 (13-022-X, free), is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

Additional tables and links to other releases from the national accounts can be found in the fourth quarter 2011 issue of Canadian Economic Accounts Quarterly Review, Vol. 10, no. 4 (13-010-X, free). This publication is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications. Revised estimates of the National Balance Sheet Accounts for the first, second and third quarters of 2011 have been released along with those for the fourth quarter of 2011. These estimates incorporate new and revised source data and updated estimates of seasonal patterns.

Data for the first quarter of 2012 will be released on June 12.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact the information officer (613-951-3640;, Income and Expenditure Accounts Division.