The Daily
 In the news  Indicators  Releases by subject
 Special interest  Release schedule  Information

Canadian Classification of Functions of Government: Selected Functions, 2016 (provisional estimates)

Released: 2018-01-11

Canadian general government (CGG)—federal, provincial-territorial and local governments combined—spending on pollution abatement rose 62% from 2008 to $2.5 billion in 2016. This increase was largely driven by spending in Alberta (+$1.1 billion), with the introduction of the Climate Leadership Plan in 2016.

Government expenses can be presented by their main socioeconomic functions according to the Canadian Classifications of Functions of Government. This information provides an important picture of the role governments play in delivering services. This release focuses on functional expenses related to public order and safety, environmental protection, recreation, culture and religion and education.

Due to important delineations of responsibilities between levels of government, it is important to note that federal government expenses by functions can vary significantly from those of the consolidated provincial-territorial and local governments (PTLG).

Sharp increase for pollution abatement in Alberta and Ontario

CGG spending on environmental protection totalled $12.6 billion in 2016, with the largest shares spent on waste management (30%), waste water management (28%) and pollution abatement (20%), which includes measures to reduce pollution and its harmful effects on the environment. From 2008 to 2016, CGG expenses for pollution abatement rose by 62%, the largest increase among environmental protection functions.

Growth in pollution abatement was driven by spending by provincial, territorial, local governments, which rose by $1.3 billion from 2008 to 2016. PTLG pollution abatement spending tripled over the period, reaching $2.0 billion in 2016.

This increase was largely driven by Alberta's Climate Leadership Plan, introduced in 2016, with the goal of eliminating the use of coal for electricity generation by 2030. Alberta pollution abatement expenses reached $1.3 billion in 2016, up $945 million from 2015.

Pollution abatement also increased significantly in Ontario, rising from $171 million in 2015 to $395 million in 2016. The increase was attributable to additional investments in green energy initiatives and electric vehicles.

Despite these increases, the overall share for pollution abatement, which accounted for 18% of total expenses in PTLG environmental protection, was less than waste water management (33%) and waste management (30%) in 2016.

Police services top government expenses for public order and safety

CGG expenses for public order and safety totalled $34.8 billion in 2016, most of which were for police services (47%) and law courts (17%).

Police services dominated PTLG expenses on public order and safety ($12.0 billion), accounting for 46% of spending in 2016. PTLG expenses on police services experienced the strongest growth, rising 36% or $3.2 billion from 2008 to 2016. Among the provinces, police service expenses were highest on a per capita basis in New Brunswick ($365), Ontario ($360) and Saskatchewan ($352).

Expense on fire protection, which are exclusively incurred by PTLGs, totalled $4.8 billion in 2016, up 35% from 2008. Fire protection service expenses per capita were highest in Manitoba ($181), Alberta ($149) and Ontario ($147) in 2016.

Notable increase for broadcasting and publishing services in Ontario and British Columbia

CGG expenses on recreation, culture and religion totalled $17.1 billion in 2016, mainly on recreational and sporting services (33% share), cultural services (30%) and broadcasting and publishing services (19%). From 2008 to 2016, CGG expenses for broadcasting and publishing services reported the largest increase (31%) in this division.

From 2008 to 2016, broadcasting and publishing services increased sharply (+$732 million) among PTLGs, while they were relatively stable for the federal government (+$55 million). In 2008, federal government expenses on broadcasting and publishing services exceeded those of PTLGs by $1.5 billion. By 2016, the difference decreased to $0.8 billion.

PTLG increases in expenses for broadcasting and publishing services were the result of higher spending in Ontario (+$428 million) and British Columbia (+$320 million) in 2016 compared with 2008. These expense were linked to provincial subsidies to the film and media industries.

Expenses towards university education in Saskatchewan and Alberta rise sharply

CGG primary and secondary education expenses ($58.2 billion) remained the main expense in education, representing 62% of the total in 2016. However, the growth over the 2008 to 2016 period in university education expenses (+33%) was higher than the increase in primary and secondary education expenses (+27%).

PTLG university education totalled $20.8 billion in 2016, up 32% compared with 2008 ($15.7 billion). In 2016, PTLGs university education expenses per capita were highest in Saskatchewan ($883), Newfoundland and Labrador ($860) and Nova Scotia ($833).

Expenses for college education among the PTLGs totalled $10.4 billion in 2016, up 25% compared with 2008 ($8.4 billion). PTLG college education spending per capita was highest in Prince Edward Island ($404), Quebec ($337) and Alberta ($307).

Sustainable Development Goals

On January 1, 2016, the world officially began implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the United Nations' transformative plan of action that addresses urgent global challenges over the next 15 years. The plan is based on 17 specific sustainable development goals.

The release "Canadian Classification of Functions of Government: Selected Functions, 2016" is an example of how Statistics Canada supports the reporting on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This release will be used in helping to measure the following goals:

  Note to readers

Data for additional functional expense related to public order and safety, environmental protection, recreational, culture and religion and education are available for the first time for the period from 2008 to 2016. This represents 4 of the Canadian Classifications of Functions of Government (CCOFOG) 10 first-level categories referred to as divisions. Additional detail on other functions such as health, general public services and economic affairs will be made available in the fall of 2018.

Data for detailed CCOFOG groups are released with a provisional status, which means that although they are fit for use, they are subject to revision. The data will retain its provisional status until all 10 divisions are expanded.

Detailed groups of functional expenses are only provided on a consolidated basis, with the exception of the federal government.

Consolidation is a method of presenting one overarching statistic for a set of units. It involves eliminating all transactions and debtor–creditor relationships among the units being consolidated. In other words, the transaction of one unit is paired with the same transaction as recorded for the second unit and both transactions are eliminated.

Consolidated data are released for the provincial–territorial and local governments (PTLGs), which include provincial and territorial governments, health and social service institutions, universities and colleges, municipalities and other local public administrations, and school boards.

The constitutional framework of PTLGs in the territories differs from that in the provinces, leading to differences in the roles and financial authorities of government. These differences, as well as other geographic, demographic and socioeconomic dissimilarities between the North and the rest of Canada, give rise to marked disparities in government finance statistics.

PTLG data can be compared across provinces and territories because consolidation takes into account differences in administrative structure and government service delivery by removing the effects of internal public sector transactions within each jurisdiction.

Consolidated data are also released for the Canadian General Government, which combines federal government data with PTLG data, but excludes data for the Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan.

Detailed groups of functional expenses are available on a non-consolidated basis for the federal government to allow the analysis of the role of central government in delivering services to Canadians.

The CCOFOG expenses data exclude the acquisitions of non-financial assets and consumption of fixed capital expenses.

Because PTLG finance statistics vary significantly across jurisdictions in Canada due to size differences, per capita data are used to facilitate comparisons. Per capita data are based on population estimates for Canada, the provinces and the territories, available in CANSIM table 051-0001.

Annual 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, 2017 (fiscal year 2016/2017), are reported for the 2016 reference year.


The classification structure Canadian Classification of Functions of Government 2014 is 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;

Date modified: