Statistics Canada - Statistique Canada
Skip main navigation menuSkip secondary navigation menuHomeFrançaisContact UsHelpSearch the websiteCanada Site
The DailyCanadian StatisticsCommunity ProfilesProducts and servicesHome
CensusCanadian StatisticsCommunity ProfilesProducts and servicesOther links

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

PDF version More information Related products Statistical tables Highlights Contents

National balance sheet accounts
First quarter 2003


Note to readers

The national balance sheet accounts are statements of the balance sheets of all of the various sectors of the economy. They consist of the non-financial assets owned in the various sectors of the economy and of financial claims outstanding. National wealth is the sum of non-financial assets – produced assets, land surrounding structures and agricultural land - in all sectors of the economy. National net worth is wealth less what is owed to non-residents less what they owe to us (Canada's net international investment position, or net foreign liability); alternatively, it is the sum of the net worth of persons, corporations and governments.

This release marks the launch of the quarterly National Balance Sheet Accounts. Quarterly series run from the first quarter of 1990. At this point, only national net worth estimates are available on a seasonally-adjusted basis. However additional seasonally adjusted data will be provided over the course of the year. The text refers to data unadjusted for seasonal variation unless otherwise specified.

Revisions in this release cover the period from 1990 to 2002, but there are a few exceptions. Historical revisions cover capital stocks and land surrounding non-residential structures, resulting largely from the use of rebased price indices in the calculations as well as improved sectoring of these assets for the government sectors.

Users are advised that data for Canadian foreign investment in marketable securities (foreign investment) for certain institutional investors’ sectors, in particular in recent years, may differ from those reported in other Statistics Canada surveys. This difference is related to the increased gap between the book value of Canadian asset-holders marketable foreign equity securities at acquisition cost on the one hand, and the underlying book values of the foreign firms whose shares are being held and traded on the other. This situation will persist for the next few quarters, as the National Balance Sheet Accounts will continue to follow the International Investment Position concept for valuation of Canadian foreign investment in equity securities. However, this issue will be resolved as both accounts move to a common market valuation for tradable securities in the first quarter of 2004.

A measure of national wealth that includes selected natural resources is also available (CANSIM table 378-0005).

National net worth advanced 1.0% (seasonally adjusted) in the first quarter of 2003, compared to a 1.9% gain in the previous quarter. The slower growth in the quarter was driven by a significant increase in the net foreign liability – what Canadians owe to non-residents less what they owe to us – which offset the increase in national wealth. The rise in net foreign debt was related to the appreciation of the Canadian dollar which had a larger impact on Canada’s foreign currency denominated assets than on foreign currency-denominated liabilities. Strong fourth quarter growth in national net worth was also related to net foreign debt, which had declined sharply.

Chart: National net worth

National net worth reached $3.8 trillion or $120,900 per capita by the end of the first quarter of 2003. Per capita worth was up 0.6% from the fourth quarter of 2002 and 5.1% from the first quarter of 2002.

National balance sheet accounts1

  Fourth quarter 2001 First quarter 2002 Second quarter 2002 Third quarter 2002 Fourth quarter 2002 First quarter 2003 2001 2002
  billions of dollars, at period end
National net worth
not seasonally adjusted
National wealth 3,747 3,814 3,880 3,921 3,968 4,026 3,747 3,968
… … … … … … 5.3 5.9
- Net foreign debt -189 -212 -215 -204 -184 -210 -189 -184
… … … … … … … …
= National net worth 3,558 3,602 3,665 3,717 3,784 3,816 3,558 3,784
… … … … … … 5.9 6.4
National net worth per capita (dollars) 113,900 115,000 116,700 118,100 120,100 120,900 113,900 120,100
… … … … … … 4.8 5.4
Net worth:
seasonally adjusted
Personal sector 3,379 3,408 3,492 3,496 3,560 3,602 3,379 3,560
1.1 0.9 2.5 0.1 1.8 1.2 … …
+ Corporate sector 408 430 400 429 431 428 408 431
1.5 5.4 -7.0 7.3 0.5 -0.7 … …
+ Government sector -229 -229 -222 -211 -207 -207 -229 -207
… … … … … … … …
= National net worth 3,558 3,609 3,670 3,713 3,784 3,822 3,558 3,784
1.0 1.4 1.7 1.2 1.9 1.0 … …
1 The first line is the series itself expressed in billions of dollars. The second line, italicized, is the period to period percentage change.
... Not applicable

Advance in national wealth reflected strength in the housing market

National wealth (non-financial assets such as houses, automobiles, land, as well as business inventories and fixed capital) stood at $4.0 trillion at the end of the first quarter, advancing at a somewhat slower pace (+1.5%) than in the previous quarter. Growth arose principally from gains in the value of residential real estate, reflecting strong investment in new housing construction and the impact of substantial demand in the resale market. Strong non-farm inventory accumulation in the first quarter also contributed to growth in national wealth. The stock of consumer durable goods grew at a much slower pace, in line with the decline in expenditures on certain big-ticket items in the quarter, in particular automobiles.

Debt growth dampened by stronger Canadian currency

Total credit market debt (short-term paper, loans, mortgages and bonds) was unchanged from the previous quarter. This was the result of typical lower seasonal demand for funds in the first quarter, but also from the impact of an appreciating Canadian dollar. Debt growth was constrained by lower values of liabilities denominated in foreign currencies in the corporate and government sectors.

Corporate balance sheets strengthened further

Significantly higher undistributed earnings coupled with lower capital spending, pushed the corporate sector into a further huge surplus position in the first quarter following twelve unprecedented quarters of surplus. This allowed firms to continue to restructure their balance sheets.

Among non-financial private corporations, the debt-to-equity ratio declined sharply for a fourth consecutive quarter, extending its long-term slide. Strong profits combined with a modest demand for funds and the reduction of foreign currency-denominated debt accounted for the decline in leverage in the quarter. In addition, the ratio of short-term debt to long-term debt also declined further, as businesses took advantage of the low interest rates that prevailed over most of the quarter and continued to replace loan liabilities with bonds.

Household net worth advanced again

Household net worth advanced, but at a slower pace than in the fourth quarter. Net worth was led by gains in the value of household non-financial assets, in particular residential real estate in the first quarter. This was a continuation of the trend set in 2002, and reflected the boom in the housing market.

The housing boom also affected the demand for funds in the personal sector. The ratio of consumer credit and mortgage debt to personal disposable income rose to a new high of 99.0% (seasonally adjusted).

Household financial asset growth was constrained by declines in pension and mutual fund assets, reflecting in part the decline in value of foreign currency-denominated assets of these institutional investors.

Government net debt edged up, but continued to decline relative to Gross Domestic Product

Government net debt edged up in the quarter, reflecting the substantial narrowing of the combined surplus of the government sector, as well as other changes in assets and liabilities. Nevertheless, government sector net debt fell further relative to gross domestic product (seasonally adjusted), making for the fifth consecutive quarter of decline in this ratio. With the exception of two quarters of increases, this ratio has been in a steady decline since the second quarter of 1996.

Home | Search | Contact Us | Français Return to top of page
Date Modified: 2003-07-02 Important Notices