Data quality, concepts and methodology: Concepts

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The following information should be used to ensure a clear understanding of the basic concepts that define the data provided in this product, of the underlying methodology of the survey, and of key aspects of the data quality. This information will provide you with a better understanding of the strengths and limitations of the data, and how they can be effectively used and analyzed. The information may be of particular importance to you when making comparisons with data from other surveys or sources of information, and in drawing conclusions regarding change over time.

Description of the data concepts


Beginning with the 1999 reference year, the Financial and Taxation Statistics for Enterprises program has undergone numerous significant changes which affect both the comparability and the historical continuity of the published statistics. Changes in industrial classification, methodology, data sources as well as content have all been introduced.

Data are now collected and compiled on the basis of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 2012 for the entire incorporated business population as depicted on Statistics Canada's Business Register. Such a census is made possible by supplementing data collected through Statistics Canada's Quarterly Survey of Financial Statements (QFS) and the survey of provincial or federal level government business enterprises, with administrative data available from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Consequently, the content of the Financial and Taxation Statistics for Enterprises has been affected in two ways. First, although the taxation statistics are not available for reference year 1999, they were re-introduced with the 2002 publication and are available beginning with reference year 2000. Second, although the financial data are still presented in the basic format of a balance sheet and income statement, certain detail items have changed.

Description and use of the data

The financial data presented herein comprise financial statements typically prepared by incorporated businesses to record their financial position and performance. The data include: asset, liability and equity items encompassed in a balance sheet, revenue and expense items as reported on an income statement, along with several common financial performance ratios. The taxation data are derived from the T2 Corporate Income Tax Return and include a reconciliation of book profit to taxable income and taxes payable.

These statistics are used in two broad ways. First, they provide a measure of financial position and performance of incorporated businesses by industry aggregations. They are used by a wide variety of economists and industry analysts in both the private and government sectors. Second they are used as the benchmark for the quarterly estimates of corporate profits in the Canadian System of National Accounts.


The domestic economy consists of personal, business and government sectors. This publication covers incorporated enterprises of the financial and non-financial business sectors and business enterprises controlled by federal or provincial governments. In addition, non-profit enterprises considered to be part of the incorporated business sector are also included.

The statistical unit

For statistical purposes, Statistics Canada defines a hierarchical structure of units for each firm. The four standard statistical units that are used are listed from largest to smallest below:

  1. Enterprise
  2. Company
  3. Establishment
  4. Location

The statistical unit for this publication is the enterprise. An enterprise can be a single corporation or a family of corporations under common ownership and/or control, for which a set of consolidated financial statements are produced.

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