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Quarterly financial statistics for enterprises, fourth quarter 2016

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Released: 2017-02-23

Canadian corporations' operating profits

$86.8 billion

Fourth quarter 2016


(quarterly change)

Overall operating profits

Canadian corporations earned $86.8 billion in operating profits in the fourth quarter, up 3.6% from the previous quarter. The operating profits in the non-financial and the financial industries were both up by $1.5 billion.

Overall, operating profits for Canadian corporations rose 13.2% compared with the fourth quarter of 2015.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Quarterly operating profits
Quarterly operating profits

Non-financial industries

In the non-financial industries, operating profits increased 2.6% from the third quarter to $58.7 billion in the fourth quarter on a $7.5 billion increase in operating revenues. Overall, profits were up in 14 of 17 non-financial industries.

Operating profits for Canadian non-financial corporations increased 11.9% compared with the fourth quarter of 2015.

Losses persist in oil and gas

The oil and gas extraction industry reported an operating loss of $2.2 billion in the fourth quarter, down from the $3.3 billion loss in the third quarter. This was the eighth consecutive quarterly loss for the oil and gas extraction industry.

The construction industry posted its third consecutive quarterly operating profit gain, up 3.5% from the previous quarter to $5.5 billion in the fourth quarter.

Profits down in manufacturing and retail trade

Operating profits in manufacturing edged down 0.7% from the third quarter to $13.0 billion in the fourth quarter. Operating profits declined in 7 out of 13 manufacturing industries.

Operating profits for motor vehicle and parts manufacturing were down 33.5% to $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter, as operating revenues fell 4.6%. This was the first quarterly decline in the industry since the third quarter of 2015.

Petroleum and coal products manufacturing partially offset this decline, with profits up 24.8% to $1.4 billion as oil prices continued to rise and OPEC agreed to cut production.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Operating profit/loss in oil and gas extraction and petroleum and coal products manufacturing
Operating profit/loss in oil and gas extraction and petroleum and coal products manufacturing

In retail trade, operating profits decreased 2.8% to $4.5 billion. Most of the decline was attributable to food and beverage stores, down 9.6% to $0.9 billion in the fourth quarter.

Financial industries

Continued growth in the financial industries

Operating profits in the financial industries increased 5.7% from the third quarter to $28.0 billion in the fourth quarter.

Insurance carriers and related activities reported that operating profits were up $2.0 billion to $4.3 billion.

Life, health and medical insurance carriers reported that operating profits rose $1.7 billion to $2.3 billion. Operating revenues fell by $2.1 billion, mainly on lower returns on financial instruments. Operating expenses, mainly adjustments to actuarial liabilities, were down $3.8 billion.

Fourth quarter operating profits in property and casualty insurance were up 25.4% to $1.0 billion. Operating profits have been relatively low since the wildfires in Fort McMurray. On a year-over-year basis, operating profits have fallen 64.0%, from $6.2 billion in 2015 to $2.2 billion in 2016.

Operating profits at depository credit intermediaries (mainly banks) declined by $551.0 million, with operating revenues decreasing by 3.1%, mainly on lower insurance premiums revenue.

Outstanding debt levels still increasing

The total value of outstanding loans in the financial industries grew by $34.8 billion from the third quarter to $2.9 trillion in the fourth quarter. Residential mortgage loans have continued to grow, up 1.1% in the fourth quarter. Year over year, the outstanding value of residential mortgage loans have increased by $76.1 billion to $1.3 trillion.

Notwithstanding the high household debt levels, consumer spending remained strong in 2016 but at a slower pace than 2015. According to Moneris, a leading payment provider, on a year-over-year basis, Canadian consumer spending was up 4.2% in the fourth quarter with credit card use increasing by 5.7%.

The total value of loans outstanding to individuals to purchase consumer goods continued to increase, rising 1.5% from the third quarter to $515.0 billion in the fourth quarter.

  Note to readers

Data on quarterly profits in this release are seasonally adjusted and expressed in current dollars. Financial data for the first, second and third quarters have been revised.

For information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

Quarterly financial statistics for enterprises are based on a sample survey and represent the activities of all corporations in Canada, except those that are government-controlled or not-for-profit. 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.

Profits referred to in this analysis are operating profits earned from normal business activities. For non-financial industries, operating profits exclude interest and dividend revenue and capital gains/losses. For financial industries, these are included, along with interest paid on deposits.

In this release, all profits are operating profits unless otherwise stated. Operating profits differ from net profits, which represent the after-tax profits earned by corporations.

Real-time CANSIM tables

Real-time CANSIM tables 187-8001 and 187-8002 will be updated on March 9. For more information, consult the document, Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Financial statistics for enterprises for the first quarter 2017 will be released on May 25.


Aggregate balance sheet and income statement data for Canadian corporations are now available in CANSIM at the national level for 22 industry groupings.

The publication Quarterly Financial Statistics for Enterprises (Catalogue number61-008-X) is no longer released. Data from the Quarterly Survey of Financial Statements are available in CANSIM.

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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