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Quarterly financial statistics for enterprises, first quarter 2017

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Released: 2017-05-25

Canadian corporations' operating profits

$91.9 billion

First quarter 2017

-7.4% decrease

(quarterly change)

Overall operating profits

Canadian corporations earned $91.9 billion in operating profits in the first quarter, down $7.3 billion or 7.4% from the fourth quarter of 2016.

Operating profits for Canadian corporations were up 19.1% in the first quarter compared with the first quarter of 2016.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Quarterly operating profits
Quarterly operating profits

Profits edge down in the non-financial industries

In the non-financial industries, operating profits edged down 0.4% to $60.7 billion from the previous quarter—despite a $9.2 billion increase in operating revenues. Overall, profits were up in 10 of 17 non-financial industries.

Compared with the first quarter of 2016, operating profits for Canadian non-financial corporations increased 21.5%.

Profits down in manufacturing and wholesale trade

Operating profits in manufacturing were down 3.9% from the fourth quarter of 2016 to $13.6 billion in the first quarter, with 7 of 13 manufacturing industries reporting declines.

Operating profits for fabricated metal product and machinery manufacturing led the decline in manufacturing, down 23.2% to $1.0 billion in the first quarter, as sales of goods and services decreased and inventories rose.

Operating profits for primary metal manufacturing declined 13.7% to $1.7 billion in the first quarter. Wood and paper manufacturing operating profits fell 14.2% to $1.4 billion.

Motor vehicle and parts manufacturing partially offset these declines, with profits up 20.8% to $1.3 billion. According to Statistics Canada's merchandise imports and exports survey, exports for motor vehicle and parts were up in the first quarter.

In wholesale trade, operating profits decreased for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2015, down 5.4% to $6.6 billion in the first quarter. Overall, four of the five wholesale industries posted declines. Machinery, equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers posted the largest decline, down 13.1% to $1.7 billion in the first quarter.

Building material and supplies merchant wholesalers were the sole wholesale industry to register a gain, up 18.2% to $1.0 billion in the first quarter.

Profits up in information and cultural services

Profits in the information and cultural industries increased 9.3% to $4.6 billion in the first quarter, mostly on the strength of the telecommunications industry. Telecommunications profits were up 10.3% to $3.4 billion. Profits rebounded from a non-recurring expense that was booked in the previous quarter. Profits in the publishing, broadcasting, motion pictures, sound recording and other information services industry rose 6.8% to $1.2 billion.

Transportation and warehousing operating profits rose (+4.4%)—as they usually do in the first quarter—to $5.4 billion. The increase came from the transportation sector, up 10.3% to $3.1 billion.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Change in operating profits in major non-financial industries
Change in operating profits in major non-financial industries

Operating profits down in the financial industries

Operating profits in the financial industries decreased 18.4% from the fourth quarter to $31.3 billion in the first quarter, the result of higher expenses in the insurance industries. Excluding life insurance, operating profits in the financial industries have been rising steadily since the second quarter of 2016, increasing from $23.8 billion to $30.6 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Net profits for the financial industries were up 1.6% to $24.7 billion in the first quarter.

Insurance carriers' profits fell 69.2% to $3.5 billion in the first quarter. The operating profits of insurance carriers decreased $7.8 billion from the fourth quarter of 2016. This decrease came mainly from life, health and medical insurance carriers. Life insurance industry profits were down due to an $11.8 billion increase in fair value adjustments to actuarial liabilities. Net profit for insurance carriers decreased 7.3% from the fourth quarter to $3.7 billion in the first quarter.

Operating profits for depository credit intermediation increased 12.1% from the fourth quarter to $12.3 billion, the result of higher revenue—mainly from derivative trading. Operating revenues in banking and other depository credit intermediation were up, while operating expenses were down.

Loans to businesses up for the third consecutive quarter

Residential mortgage loans in the financial industries (mainly led by banks) continued to grow, up 0.7% in the first quarter, but at a slower pace than throughout 2016. The first quarter saw a levelling off of consumer loans with a 0.3% increase from the previous quarter. According to Moneris, one of Canada's largest processors of debit and credit payments, Canadian consumer spending grew on a year-over-year basis by 3.5% in the first quarter of 2017. While lending to consumers showed signs of slowing, loans to businesses increased for the third consecutive quarter, up 2.7% from the fourth quarter of 2016.

Provisions for future loan losses decreased for the third quarter in a row, down 4.3% to $1.6 billion in the first quarter. This indicates a return to comparable levels observed before the Alberta wildfires in May 2016 and lower oil prices.

Debt-to-equity levels edge down

In the financial industries, leverage, or the amount of debt used to finance assets, continued its five-year downward trend following the adoption of new accounting standards (IFRS) by banks in the fourth quarter of 2011.

From the first quarter of 2015 to the third quarter of 2015, the debt-to-equity ratio saw a temporary upswing as Canadian banks issued more bonds. Since the fourth quarter 2015, financial corporations have seemingly taken on less debt to fund their projects, as equity has outpaced debt.

Conversely, in the non-financial industries, the debt-to-equity ratio has been increasing since late 2012 as corporations are resorting to using more debt to finance their operations. The first quarter of 2016 saw the beginning of a contraction of the ratio, as equity is now growing faster than debt.

Both financial and non-financial industries have continued to post lower debt-to-equity ratios, a trend that has started in the second half of 2015.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Debt-to-equity ratio
Debt-to-equity ratio

Telling Canada's story in numbers; #ByTheNumbers

In celebration of the country's 150th birthday, Statistics Canada is presenting snapshots from our rich statistical history.

By the end of 1988, non-financial industries held a 52.2% share of total assets of corporations operating in Canada, compared with 47.8% held by financial industries. Almost 30 years later, in 2016, these shares were reversed, with financial industries holding a 55.6% share of total assets, compared to 44.4% held by non-financial industries.

  Note to readers

Data on quarterly profits in this release are seasonally adjusted and expressed in current dollars. Quarterly financial data for the period covering the first quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter of 2016 have been revised following the reconciliation to the 2014 and 2015 annual series.

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 June 12. For more information, consult the document, Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Financial statistics for enterprises for the second quarter will be released on August 24.


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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