Canada's non-profit sector in macro-economic terms
Non-profit institutions1 (NPI) continue to make a significant contribution to the economic and social well-being of Canadians. In 2007, the value added or gross domestic product (GDP)2 of the core non-profit sector3 amounted to $35.6 billion, accounting for 2.5% of the total Canadian economy. This share increases to 7.0% when hospitals, universities and colleges are included, reaching $100.7 billion in 2007.
In 2007, GDP of the core non-profit sector grew4 by 5.8%, slightly slower than the Canadian economy (+ 6.0%). However, the core segment grew faster (+6.4%) than the economy as a whole in 2006. Over the 1997 to 2007 period, its growth in economic activity outpaced that of the overall Canadian economy in six out of eleven years.
Figure 1 Growth of gross domestic product
Description for Figure 1
On average economic activity in the core non-profit sector outpaced that of the total economy
GDP of the core non-profit sector grew by an annual average of 7.1% over the eleven-year period. This was faster than the Canadian economy as a whole (+5.8%), and also faster than the aggregate of hospitals,5 universities and colleges, which grew by 6.0%. As a result the level of economic activity in the core non-profit sector nearly doubled between 1997 and 2007.
Figure 2 Cumulative growth of gross domestic product, 1997 to 2007
Description for Figure 2
The economic contribution of the non-profit sector continues to exceed that of many key industries in Canada
Although the non-profit sector is not a specific industry, its GDP can be compared with selected key industries in Canada to provide a point of reference.6 It should be noted that this comparison does not consider the contribution of volunteering, which is particularly significant for the core non-profit sector.
In 2006, the latest year for which GDP by industry for Canada is available, the core non-profit sector generated 20% more value added than the entire accommodation and food services industry, more than 2.5 times that of agriculture, and generated nearly six times as much value added as the motor vehicle manufacturing industry.
The broader non-profit sector, which includes hospitals, universities and colleges, exceeded by more than one third the value added of the entire retail trade industry, and outpaced the value added of the mining, oil and gas extraction industry.
Figure 3 Gross domestic product: non-profit sector and selected industries, 2006
Description for Figure 3
Note: Data by industry is not yet available for 2007.
- What are referred to as non-profit institutions (NPI) in the System of National Accounts are commonly referred to as "non-profit organizations" in Canada. We will use the former term throughout this publication.
- GDP measures the productive activity generated as non-profit organizations undertake their missions in Canadian society. GDP refers to all goods and services produced in Canada's economic territory. It is also referred to as value added, output or economic activity.
- Throughout this document, the "core non-profit sector" refers to non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) and non-profit institutions classified to the corporate sector.
- All growth rates in this publication are calculated using nominal (current) values; that is, not adjusted for inflation.
- All references to hospitals throughout this document include residential care facilities.
- Industries (e.g., manufacturing, construction) are defined on an activity basis, while institutional sectors (e.g., households, businesses, governments) are defined on the basis of their role or motivation in an economic system. Institutional units included in the non-profit sector span a range of industry groups.
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