Canadian Classification of the Functions of Government (CCOFOG) Methodology


CCOFOG data are presented for all general government sectors: the federal general government sector, the provincial general and territorial government sector, the local general government sector, the colleges and universities sector, and the health, school board and Canada and Quebec Pension Plan sectors. Canadian Classification of the Functions of Government (CCOFOG) coding is applied at the program level for the general ledger accounts, specified purpose accounts, special funds, and income statements of specific entities, such as colleges and universities.

For the province of Nova Scotia, program expenses were estimated from the provincial general government budget documents. This is similar to the methodology used in the previous Financial Management System (FMS) framework.

Data composition

The published CCOFOG data represent only expenses, with the exception of the consumption of fixed capital. They also exclude acquisitions of non-financial assets. The CCOFOG data are currently available for the period 2008 to 2012.

Data reliability

CCOFOG provisional data are being released for the first time in November 2014. This provisional qualifier signals to users that although the data are fit for use, they are subject to revisions. Over the next year these data will be integrated into the rest of the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (the National Accounts, Balance of Payments, International Investment Position, Input-Output Tables) resulting in revisions as data, concepts and methods are reconciled and aligned within the national accounts framework.

Data limitations

A CCOFOG-based analysis must be limited exclusively to a chronological analysis of a single jurisdiction in a single government sector. Transfers among jurisdictions and among government sectors are not consolidated, which means that, in practice, if the health and education sectors, for example, are added to the general provincial government sector, we are over-estimating expenses as a result of the double-counting of the value of the transfers.

Inter-provincial comparisons are also strictly impossible because the non-reconciliation of transfers means that we cannot compare a government sector that has different responsibilities in two provinces. For example, Ontario delegated a majority of its social housing responsibilities to the local government sector, but British Columbia did not. Thus, comparing CCOFOG data from division 710 – Social Protection, for the general government sector for these two provinces is statistically invalid.

Coding process

The CCOFOG classification has three levels. The highest level is referred to as the division and has 10 separate categories. The second level is referred to as the group and the lowest level is referred to as the class. In this initial CCOFOG release the data are presented at the division level and exclude amortization of non-financial assets expenditures. In November 2015, the data will be presented at the group level.

The primary mandate of a government’s program, together with additional information provided by the Canadian Government Finance Statistics (CGFS) coding, is used to assign the CCOFOG classification. When a program has multiple mandates requiring multiple CCOFOG codes, available financial documents are used to determine the main proportion of the observed expense. The total value of the government’s program is then assigned to that CCOFOG code.

In general, special funds usually have a single function and thus a single CCOFOG code is assigned. For example, a social housing authority would have all expenses coded to 71069 – Housing.

The assignment is always at the lowest level of CCOFOG detail, which is the class level.

General assignment principles

The 2014 Government Finance Statistics Manual, published by the International Monetary Fund, provides an overview of the COFOG assignment rules in Chapter 6 and its annex. Canada rigorously adheres to the guidelines described in the manual but has introduced certain nuances that more accurately reflect the Canadian reality. The “Detailed assignment decisions” section explains these nuances by class and/or function.

When a program significantly impacts a number of different classes in the same group, or if there wasn’t enough detail, an aggregate was sometimes created. For example, aggregate 70459 – Transport n.e.c. was created to represent the sum of transport expenses that could not be specifically allocated to the Road Transport, Water Transport, Railway Transport, Air Transport and Pipelines and other transport systems classes.

Detailed assignment decisions

Division 701- General public services

Centralized services such as Access Ontario are classified under 70133 – Other general services. Services shared by certain departments, such as information technology and human resources, are deemed to be “centralized” if they cover more than two departments.

Government research institutes are generally classified under Basic research (70149); most other research institutes are assigned to applied research or experimental development in their area of expertise (health, agriculture, etc.).

All negotiations of territorial treaties with Aboriginal bands are included in class 70169 – General public services.

All expenses identified under the CGFS classification as interest expense, are classified under 70179 – Public debt transactions.

Transfers to governments for infrastructure expenses are coded under group 7018 – Transfers of a general character between different levels of government. Code 70181 was created to identify transfers to the federal government, while code 70182 identifies transfers to provincial governments and code 70183, transfers to local governments.

Division 702- Defence

Military defence is exclusively a federal government jurisdiction – these expenses will not be found at the provincial/territorial or local level.

Division 703- Public order and safety

In Canada, probation and parole monitoring programs are the responsibility of prison administrations and not the courts as recommended by the Government Finance Statistics Manual. To preserve the comparability of international data, we have left these programs under the courts, but we have set them apart by identifying them by a specific code, 70331. This code will make it easier to transfer the program when Canada publishes its public order and safety expenses under its Justice framework.

Similarly, two key Public order and safety programs in Canada also received their own unique codes: 70332 for legal aid and 70333 for administrative tribunals.

704- Economic affairs

Expenses related to status of women boards and other gender equality initiatives are included in 70412- General labour affairs because, historically, the employment component was the initial focus of these programs.

A CCOFOG group was created to integrate the expenses of programs involving immigration and citizenship, namely, 70413 – Citizenship and immigration.

As mentioned earlier, a special aggregation was created to combine transport expenses when there is not enough detail to identify a specific class: 70459 – Transport n.e.c.

705 – Environmental protection

At the local government level, it is sometimes difficult to separate water supply (70639) and waste water management (70529) expenses; in these instances, a new CCOFOG classification was created to aggregate the two types of expenses (70631).

706 – Housing and community amenities

At the local government level, it is sometimes difficult to separate water supply (70639) and waste water management (70529) expenses; in these instances, a new CCOFOG classification was created to aggregate the two types of expenses (70631).

707 – Health

708 – Recreation, culture and religion

709 – Education

The level of available detail in our source data on education expenses does not allow us to estimate pre-elementary and elementary data or the first and second cycles at the secondary level. We have therefore grouped these classes together in a new aggregated category, 70929 – Elementary and secondary education.

We are also unable at this time to separate non-doctoral higher education (70941) from doctoral (70942); we have therefore combined these two classes into a new aggregated category University education (70949).

Furthermore, when there was not sufficient detail to distinguish college education (70939) from university education (70949), the default choice was to classify this expense under university education (70949).

Internships and apprenticeships were included in division 709 – Education only when such hours were essential to obtain credits toward the degree or diploma. Otherwise, internships and apprenticeships are included in division 704 – Economic affairs under group 70412 – General labour affairs.

710 – Social protection

To accommodate the requirements of public order and safety expenses, under group 7107 – Social exclusion n.e.c. a new class was created 71071 – Victims of crime.


Date modified: