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Canadian Government Finance Statistics, 2013

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Released: 2015-11-17

Federal government attains a positive gross operating balance in 2013

After several consecutive years of negative gross operating balances, the federal government returned to a positive balance in 2013.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Federal government gross operating balance
Federal government gross operating balance

Since 2009, the federal government's revenues have steadily increased, rising 6.8% in 2013. Much of the growth was attributable to higher tax revenue, which rose 5.9% from 2012 to $228.0 billion in 2013.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Federal government revenue
Federal government revenue

An increase in personal income tax in 2013 accounted for much of the gain in tax revenue. From 2008 to 2009, personal income tax decreased from $117.2 billion to $105.0 billion. After 2009, this source of tax revenue rose gradually, reaching $131.5 billion in 2013.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Federal government tax revenues
Federal government tax revenues

The expenses of the federal government grew slightly from 2009 to 2013. While most types of expenses were relatively stable over the period, interest expenses decreased from $29.3 billion in 2008 to $25.8 billion in 2013. In addition, compensation of employees fell 2.9% from 2012 to $38.6 billion in 2013.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Federal government expenses
Federal government expenses

The net financial worth of the federal government increases

Financial assets and liabilities both declined in 2013. Because the decrease in liabilities (-$35.5 billion) was more pronounced than the drop in financial assets (-$20.7 billion), net financial worth increased by $14.8 billion.

Chart 5  Chart 5: Federal government net financial worth
Federal government net financial worth

Provincial, territorial and local government subsectors

The provincial governments in the Atlantic provinces, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia reported a negative gross operating balance in 2013.

However, these negative gross operating balances were offset by positive gross operating balances at the municipal level and in other local public administrations. Municipal and local public administrations posted positive gross operating balances across every province and territory in 2013.

Similarly, the universities and colleges subsector posted positive gross operating balances in every province and territory except the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Yukon recorded a positive gross operating balance in each of their subsectors.

Increase in the net financial worth of most provincial and territorial governments

The net financial worth per capita of most provincial and territorial governments stabilized in 2013, after declining following the global financial crisis in 2008.

Compared with 2012, the net liabilities of most provinces and territories decreased in 2013.

Among the provinces with net liabilities in 2013, Quebec recorded the largest decrease in net liabilities per capita, down $1,480 from 2012 to $16,231, followed by Saskatchewan, down $838 to $2,750.

Net liabilities per capita rose in New Brunswick and Ontario in 2013, but the increases were not as pronounced as in previous years. Net liability per capita in Ontario remained the highest among the provinces and territories, totalling $19,301 in 2013.

In 2013, Alberta and the territories were the lone jurisdictions to record more financial assets than liabilities.

  Note to readers

Data for the 2007 to 2012 reference periods were revised, while data for 2013 are preliminary.

Government finance statistics can be used to study the financial position, liquidity and operations of the different levels of governments in a consistent and systematic manner.

Public accounts data cannot be used for this purpose because the data, while compiled according to Public Sector Accounting Board standards, may be reported differently from one government to another and are, therefore, difficult to compare.

Data correspond to the end of the fiscal year closest to December 31. For example, data for the federal government fiscal year ending on March 31, 2010 (fiscal year 2009/2010), are reported in the 2009 reference year.

These data are now integrated in the rest of the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (national accounts, balance of payments, international investment position and input-output tables).


The gross operating balance is equal to revenues less expenses (excluding consumption of fixed capital) and is used to measure the sustainability of government operations. The higher a gross operating balance, the more flexibility a government has to fund its investments in non-financial assets and to deliver current services to the public.

Net financial worth is defined as the total value of financial assets minus the total value of liabilities. When financial assets are greater than liabilities, the measure is referred to as net financial assets. When liabilities are greater than financial assets, the measure is referred to as net liabilities.

Next release

New data tables will be available in March 2016. They will feature consolidated data for all levels of government.

Consolidated data will reflect the elimination of certain flows and stocks among sectors and subsectors for certain categories of revenues/expenses and balance sheet items.

Preliminary 2014 data will also be released in March 2016, along with data on the consumption of fixed capital and non-financial assets.


The Canadian Government Finance Statistics 2014 classification structure is now available in the Definitions, data sources and methods module of our website.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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