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Canada's international investment position
Second quarter 2004

The System of National Accounts

In Canada, the National Accounts have been developed since the close of the Second World War in a series of publications relating to their constituent parts. These have now reached a stage of evolution where they can be termed ‘System of National Accounts’. For purposes of identification, all publications (containing tables of statistics, descriptions of conceptual frameworks and descriptions of sources and methods) which make up this System carry the term ‘System of National Accounts’ as a general title.

The System of National Accounts in Canada consists of several parts. The annual and quarterly Income and Expenditure Accounts (included with Catalogue nos. carrying the prefix 13) were, historically speaking, the first set of statistics to be referred to with the title ‘National Accounts’ (National Accounts, Income and Expenditure). The Balance of International Payments data (Catalogue nos. with prefix 67) are also part of the System of National Accounts and they, in fact, pre-date the Income and Expenditure Accounts.

Greatly expanded structural detail on industries and on goods and services is portrayed in the Input–Output Tables of the System (Catalogue nos. with prefix 15). The Catalogue nos. carrying the prefix 15 also provide measures of the contribution of each industry to total gross domestic product at factor cost as well as productivity measures.

Both the Input–Output tables and the estimates of Gross Domestic Product by Industry use the establishment as the primary unit of industrial production. Measures of financial transactions are provided by the Financial Flow Accounts (Catalogue nos. with prefix 13). Types of lenders and financial instruments are the primary detail in these statistics and the legal entity is the main unit of classification of transactors. Balance sheets of outstanding assets and liabilities are published annually.

The System of National Accounts provides an overall conceptually integrated framework in which the various parts can be considered as interrelated sub-systems. At present, direct comparisons amongst those parts which use the establishment as the basic unit and those which use the legal entity can be carried out only at highly aggregated levels of data. However, Statistics Canada is continuing research on enterprise company establishment relationships; it may eventually be feasible to reclassify the data which are on one basis (say the establishment basis) to correspond to the units employed on another (the company or the enterprise basis).

In its broad outline, the Canadian System of National Accounts bears a close relationship to the international standard as described in System of National Accounts, 1993, a joint publication of the Commission of the European Communities, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations and World Bank.

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Date Modified: 2004-09-30 Important Notices