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Consolidated Canadian Classification of Functions of Government, 2014

Released: 2016-03-30

Canadian general government (CGG) expenses increased 1.4% from 2013 to 2014, less than half the 2.9% average growth rate seen since 2008. Total CGG (federal, provincial–territorial and local governments combined) expenses, excluding acquisitions of non-financial assets and consumption of fixed capital expense, totalled $638 billion or $17,939 per capita.

CGG expenses can be broken down by their main socioeconomic function according to the Canadian variant of the international Classification of the Functions of Government. These breakdowns provide an important picture of the role governments play in delivering services, such as health, education, social protection, and public order and safety, to citizens

Highest spending on health and social protection

In 2014, the CGG spent the most on health at $4,334 per capita and social protection at $4,137 per capita. Social protection includes the Old Age Security program, child allowance programs, Employment Insurance program and similar income security programs. These two categories together represented almost half of total CGG expenses. Education expenses were the third highest at $2,524 per capita, followed by economic affairs, public order and safety, and defence spending. Housing and community amenities expenses, such as social housing and other community infrastructure projects, were the lowest at $228 per capita.

Government expenses rise faster than inflation rate

Over the 2008 to 2014 period, CGG spending grew by $99 billion (+18.4%) to $638 billion, with much of the growth occurring from 2008 to 2011.

Although all 10 functional categories reported higher spending over the period, the increases varied considerably, ranging from a growth rate of 29.5% for environmental protection to 0.5% for defence spending.

Spending on health programs, the largest functional category, rose 24.1% over the six-year period, an increase of almost $30 billion. The education functional category recorded a similar percentage gain, rising 24.2%, as governments spent an additional $18 billion on education programs. Expenses on social protection, the second largest functional category, were up 20.5% (+$25 billion). Spending on general public services rose $10 billion, an increase of 9.5%, reflecting higher debt servicing costs for provincial governments, as interest expenses increased by over $6 billion.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Expenses by function, Canadian general government, 2008 and 2014
Expenses by function, Canadian general government, 2008 and 2014

Health function the largest contributor to provincial–territorial and local governments' spending in 2014

Provincial–territorial and local governments (PTLG) expenses devoted to health were the largest functional category for all provinces and territories, except Yukon and Nunavut, where they were second. Spending on education was the second largest functional category in eight provinces. General public services spending was the third largest functional category in seven provinces.

In general, the shares for each of the functional components were consistent across the provinces, as each province essentially delivers the same level of service. There are exceptions, such as the fact that the Saskatchewan and Quebec provincial governments operate and administer auto insurance funds, which contributed to their relatively higher shares of social protection expenses compared with other provinces.

Prince Edward Island reports lowest per capita spending on health

PTLG spending on health ranged across the provinces in 2014 from $5,317 per capita in Newfoundland and Labrador to $3,858 per capita in Prince Edward Island. Health spending per capita was much higher in the Northwest Territories ($10,470) and Nunavut ($9,342). Expenses on health include transfers to non-government organizations to deliver programs, as well as direct health program spending in the form of salaries and wages and other operating costs.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Health spending per capita, provincial–territorial and local governments, 2014
Health spending per capita, provincial–territorial and local governments, 2014

Saskatchewan reports highest per capita spending on education

PTLG education spending varied across the provinces from $3,182 per capita in Saskatchewan to $1,987 in British Columbia. On average, territorial governments spent more than double what the provinces spent to deliver education programs.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Education spending per capita, provincial–territorial and local governments, 2014
Education spending per capita, provincial–territorial and local governments, 2014

British Columbia reports lowest per capita spending on general public services

PTLG general public services spending ranged across the provinces in 2014 from $3,181 per capita in Newfoundland and Labrador to $1,314 in British Columbia. General public services include general administrative expenses, as well as interest on public debt. In 2014, Newfoundland and Labrador reported the highest interest expense per capita among all the provinces and territories.

Chart 4  Chart 4: General public services spending per capita, provincial–territorial and local governments, 2014
General public services spending per capita, provincial–territorial and local governments, 2014

  Note to readers

This release introduces consolidated Canadian Classification of Functions of Government (CCOFOG) data for the period from 2008 to 2014. Consolidation is a method of presenting one overarching statistic for a set of units. It involves eliminating all transactions and debtor–creditor relationships among the units being consolidated. In other words, the transaction of one unit is paired with the same transaction as recorded for the second unit and both transactions are eliminated.

The CCOFOG expenses data exclude the acquisitions of non-financial assets and consumption of fixed capital expense.

Consolidated data are released for the provincial–territorial and local governments (PTLG), which include provincial and territorial governments, health and social service institutions, universities and colleges, municipalities and other local public administrations, and school boards.

PTLG data can be compared across provinces and territories because consolidation takes into account differences in administrative structure and government service delivery by removing the effects of internal public sector transactions within each jurisdiction.

Consolidated data are also released for the Canadian general government (CGG), which combines federal government data with PTLG data. The CGG does not include data for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Quebec Pension Plan (QPP).

Because PTLG finance statistics vary significantly across jurisdictions in Canada, per capita data are used to facilitate comparisons. Per capita data are based on population estimates for Canada, the provinces and the territories, available in CANSIM table 051-0001.

In 2014, the consolidation method removed $264.5 billion in internal revenues and expenses for the CGG.

Annual data correspond to the end of the fiscal year closest to December 31. For example, data for the federal government fiscal year ending on March 31, 2015 (fiscal year 2014/2015), are reported for the 2014 reference year.

Expenses within the Canadian Government Finance Statistics program are classified according to two different classification systems: the economic classification system, as well as a functional classification, the CCOFOG. The CCOFOG is a detailed classification of the functions, or socioeconomic objectives, that government units aim to achieve through various kinds of outlays. This is different than the economic classification system, which classifies each expense according to the type of expense incurred in the course of delivering the good or service to the public (for example, compensation of employees, use of goods and services, and social benefits).


The classification structure Canadian Classification of Functions of Government 2014 is available in the Definitions, data sources and methods module of our website.

Contact information

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