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Foreign control in the Canadian economy, 2017

Released: 2019-09-11

Both Canadian (+5.3%) and foreign-controlled (+2.8%) asset values increased in 2017. The foreign-controlled share of assets decreased marginally, from 16.3% in 2016 to 15.9% in 2017. This was the tenth consecutive year where the share of assets under foreign control decreased.

Foreign-controlled revenue (+6.3%) and Canadian-controlled revenue (+5.9%) both increased in 2017. The share of revenues under foreign control in 2017 was virtually unchanged from the previous year at 27.5%. Canadian-controlled operating profits rose 16.5%, and those under foreign control were up 19.7%. The share of profits under foreign control in 2017 increased to 17.2%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Shares of assets, operating revenue and operating profits under foreign control in Canada, 2008 to 2017
Shares of assets, operating revenue and operating profits under foreign control in Canada, 2008 to 2017

Enterprises controlled from the United States maintained the largest overall share of foreign-controlled assets in Canada (50.9%), followed by the United Kingdom (10.8%) and Japan (5.8%).

Infographic 1  Thumbnail for Infographic 1: Assets under foreign control by country, 2017, all industries
Assets under foreign control by country, 2017, all industries

To provide additional geographic-level detail on foreign control in Canada, data have been compiled by macro-region and by country, including a residual category for each macro-region.

In 2017, more than half of all assets under foreign control belonged to enterprises from the Americas macro-region, followed by Europe (31.5%) and Asia (14.1%). Although there was little change in these proportions from the previous year, the share of foreign-owned assets belonging to enterprises from the Americas and Europe macro-regions has declined over the last decade, while Asia has seen its share increase.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Shares of total foreign-controlled assets by macro-region from 2008 to 2017
Shares of total foreign-controlled assets by macro-region from 2008 to 2017

  Note to readers

Under the authority of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Statistics Canada administers the Corporations Returns Act, which requires the collection of financial and ownership information on corporations conducting business in Canada. This information is used to evaluate the extent of non-resident control of the Canadian corporate economy.

The Corporations Returns Act requires that an annual report be submitted to Parliament summarizing the extent of foreign control in Canada.

The financial information on foreign control in the Canadian economy is derived from administrative data received from the Canada Revenue Agency. This information is based on financial statements filed with corporate annual income tax returns. Therefore, the reference period has a lag of two years.

These statistics are compiled from enterprise-level data. An enterprise can be a single corporation or a family of corporations under common ownership or control, for which consolidated financial statements are produced.

Three components are used to measure foreign control: assets, operating revenue and operating profits.

Asset-based measures of foreign control provide a longer-term perspective. Assets are a stock item, reflecting economic decisions and market conditions that evolve more slowly over time.

Revenue-based measures, on the other hand, represent a flow item and are closely tied to the business cycle. Revenue tends to reflect current business conditions, causing revenue-based measures to be more volatile than asset-based measures.

Profits are a measure of the financial health and well-being of an economy and can be used to assess its performance and sustainability.


The report Corporations Returns Act, 2017 (Catalogue number61-220-X), is now available.

Contact information

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