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Quarterly financial statistics for enterprises, fourth quarter 2017

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Released: 2018-02-22

Canadian corporations' operating profits

$98.6 billion

Fourth quarter 2017

-1.9% decrease

(quarterly change)

Overall operating profits

Overall, Canadian corporations earned $98.6 billion in operating profits in the fourth quarter, down $1.9 billion or 1.9% from the third quarter. The financial industries were largely responsible for the decline.

Compared with the fourth quarter of 2016, operating profits for Canadian corporations were down 0.7% in the fourth quarter.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Quarterly operating profits
Quarterly operating profits

Non-financial industries

In the non-financial industries, operating profits were up 2.3% from the third quarter to $66.0 billion in the fourth quarter, as operating revenues increased 0.9% or $8.0 billion. Overall, operating profits were up in 8 of 17 non-financial industries.

Compared with the fourth quarter of 2016, operating profits for Canadian non-financial corporations increased 8.4% in the fourth quarter.

Operating profits down slightly in retail and wholesale trade

Operating profits in retail trade edged down 0.2% from the third quarter to $5.5 billion in the fourth quarter. This decrease was led by the food and beverages stores industry (-9.7%).

In wholesale trade, operating profits decreased 1.3% from the third quarter to $7.0 billion in the fourth quarter. An 11.7% decline in operating profits for the machinery, equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers led the decrease for this sector.

Manufacturing sector: Commodity prices contribute to higher operating profits

Operating profits in manufacturing were up 6.6% from the third quarter to $15.4 billion in the fourth quarter, with 8 of 13 manufacturing industries reporting increases.

Most of the gain in operating profits was attributable to petroleum and coal products manufacturing (+33.5%) and primary metal manufacturing (+20.1%). This increase was mainly the result of higher oil prices and base metal prices.

Operating profits in the air, rail and ship products and other transportation equipment manufacturing sector rose by $230 million in the fourth quarter.

These increases were partially offset by a 14.4% decline in motor vehicle and parts manufacturing, to $1.2 billion. The decrease reflected lower production, partly the result of temporary shutdowns at assembly plants during the quarter.

Excluding petroleum and coal products manufacturing, operating profits for the manufacturing sector rose 3.1% to $13.2 billion.

Operating profits up for the information and cultural industries

Operating profits for the information and cultural industries rose 5.7% to $5.1 billion in the fourth quarter. Telecommunications' operating profits rose 4.5%, partly due to a rise in wireless revenue, and an increased number of customers on higher-rate plans.

Operating profits in the transportation and warehousing sector declined 1.5% to $5.7 billion in the fourth quarter. This decrease was led by the transportation industry, as the sector saw profits decline 2.2%. Pipelines, warehousing and transportation support industries were down 0.4%, partly due to a pipeline shutdown.

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

Financial industries

Operating profits down in the financial sector

Operating profits in the financial industries declined 9.4%, down from $35.9 billion in the third quarter to $32.5 billion in the fourth quarter.

Operating profits for depository credit intermediation increased 1.0% to $12.2 billion.

Operating profits for insurance carriers and related activities declined 46.6% to $4.1 billion in the fourth quarter. Life, health and medical insurance carriers led the drop, posting a $3.7 billion loss for the quarter. This sharp decrease was the result of fair value adjustments to actuarial liabilities, which increased the related expenses by $9.9 billion.

Net income for the life, health and medical insurance carriers declined 27.5% to $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter.

Property and casualty insurance carriers' operating profits increased 7.6% to $1.3 billion.

  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 of 2017 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.

For more details on the concept of actuarial liabilities, consult the page Actuarial Liabilities.

Real-time CANSIM tables

Real-time CANSIM tables 187-8001 and 187-8002 will be updated on March 12. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Financial statistics for enterprises for the first quarter of 2018 will be released on May 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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