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Activities of Canadian majority-owned affiliates abroad, 2015

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Released: 2017-11-20

Total employment of Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliates rose by 3.7% in 2015 to 1.31 million on the strength of non-US employment.

Sales by foreign affiliates also increased during the year, up 11.7% to $634.1 billion, but this was mostly due to the revaluation effect of a weaker Canadian dollar. Sales in the United States increased by 16.3% in 2015 to $363.1 billion. This coincided with a 15.8% decline in the Canadian dollar against the US dollar during the year. Expressed in US dollar terms, there was little overall change in sales by foreign affiliates in the United States between 2014 and 2015.

Following a small decline in 2012, total sales by US affiliates have increased by 40% between 2012 and 2015. However, much of this growth can be attributed to the revaluation effects of a weaker Canadian dollar during this period.

Sales by Canadian majority-owned affiliates in Europe were also up in 2015, mostly due to increases in the United Kingdom and Switzerland, both of which saw some increased merger and acquisition activity. Sales in the rest of the world also increased, led by Asia/Oceania (+6.4%) as well as Africa (+10.6%).

Chart 1  Chart 1: Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliate sales by region
Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliate sales by region

Europe accounts for most of the increase in employment

Employment at Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliates rose by 3.7% to 1.31 million in 2015. Most regions of the world posted higher employment levels, led by Europe with a 12.2% increase. The United Kingdom, Switzerland and France accounted for around half of this increase.

In contrast, North America and the Caribbean region saw employment edge down (-0.1%) as lower employment in the United States was largely offset by an increase in Mexico. Employment growth in the region has been relatively weak over the past four years at 2%. However, this region still accounts for over half of the worldwide employment of Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliates.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliate employment by region
Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliate employment by region

Sales in the service and goods sectors both post strong growth

Sales in both the service (+14.4%) and goods (+8.8%) producing industries increased in 2015. Over the past four years, sales growth in the service sector has outpaced that of the goods sector. Sales in the service sector accounted for 53% of all sales of Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliates in 2015.

Within the service sector, the professional, scientific and technical services (+36.7%) and finance and insurance (+11.1%) industries were the main contributors to the increase on a value basis, largely as a result of higher sales in North America and Europe.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliate sales by sector
Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliate sales by sector

In the goods sector, Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliates in the manufacturing industry accounted for almost three-quarters of the sales growth in this sector on a value basis, as a result of increases in North America and Europe.

While sales increased in both the service and goods sectors during the year, employment growth was limited to the goods sector. Strong growths in the mining and oil and gas extraction and the manufacturing industries contributed to an overall increase of 11.3% in employment.

In the service sector, employment was down by 3.9% in 2015, following sales of a major operation in the "other services" category.

Balance sheets of Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliates continue to grow

Assets and liabilities of Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliates continued to increase in 2015. Most of the increase in assets (+14.4%) was from affiliates in North America, where around two-thirds of all assets are held. The region also accounted for just over half of the overall increase in liabilities (+13.1%). Europe and Asia/Oceania also posted significant increases in liabilities.

The finance and insurance industry accounted for 71% of all assets held by Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliates and 84% of all liabilities as of the end of 2015, similar to shares observed in previous years.

  Note to readers

With the release of 2013 data in December 2015, Statistics Canada expanded the level of published detail related to the program on the 'Activities of Canadian majority-owned affiliates abroad.' As well as expanding the level of published country detail, the expanded statistics for the first time covered the operations of the depository credit intermediation industry (North American Industrial Classification System 5221), increasing comparability with US estimates. In addition, a regional dimension was added to the industry level estimates.

The expanded statistics also added new variables including total assets and total liabilities. Other variables (for example, affiliates trade and fixed assets) will be added to the series in future releases.

To be consistent with international practices for measuring the activities of foreign affiliates abroad, only the information on Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliates is included. The figures for Canadian majority-owned foreign affiliates represent the total sales, employment and assets of those affiliates, even if the Canadian ownership is less than 100%.


The updated Canada and the World Statistics Hub – United States (Catalogue number13-609-X) is available online. This product illustrates the nature and the extent of Canada's economic and financial relationship with the United States using interactive graphs and tables. This product provides easy access to information on trade, investment, employment and travel, including merchandise trade by Canadian provinces and US states.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods and data quality of this release, contact Marc Atkins (613-790-7339;, International Accounts and Trade Division.

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