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Canadian Govt. & Politics: Government & Party Finance — Clarifying

Government & Political Party Finance: Clarification and Direction: Finding the Facts


The following are sources that specifically address government finance, electoral and political party financing-related issues in contemporary Canadian government and politics. These sources should be consulted in addition to those listed in the main sections of this guide.


Departmental Performance Report Vocabulary. By Samek Janowski. Terminology Bulletin 242. Ottawa, ON: Translation Bureau, 1998. 44 p.

Has 94 entries with French equivalents, and most terms defined, to help standardize and clarify the terms to be used by federal departments and agencies in their reporting to Parliament.

Financial Audit Glossary. Office of the Auditor General of Canada. 

A short list of definitions for terms used in reports of federal government spending.

Vocabulary of Government Finance Management. By Yolande Bernard and Samek Janowski. Terminology Bulletin 232. Ottawa, ON: Translation Bureau, 1997. 580 p.

Provides French/English equivalents for 2,900 terms (and definitions for 920) used by the federal government in budget administration, government accounting and financial management.

Vocabulary of Public Sector Auditing. By Louiselle Gagnon and Charles Skeete. Terminology Bulletin 216. Ottawa, ON: Translation Bureau, 1992. 291 p.

Contains around 1,300 public sector auditing terms with French/English equivalents and 360 definitions.

Facts & Figures

General | Dates | People | Statistics


Department of Finance Canada.

Finance Canada prepares the federal government budget, creates tax policies, transfers funds to the provinces, and more. Besides links to the specific budget documents covered in the Primary Sources section of this guide, the site has general information on the work of the department.

"Financial Procedures". In Compendium: House of Commons Procedure Online. By Table Research Branch, House of Commons..

This section of the Compendium describes the process and documents involved in federal government spending.

"Financial Procedures". In House of Commons Procedure and Practice Section 18. By Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit.

Provides a more detailed description of the federal government financial procedures than the Compendium, with historical overviews.

Political Financing. Elections Canada.

This is the best source for information on Canadian federal election financing rules and regulations (limits on political donations, candidate and party spending limits, etc.). It also has the searchable databases of political party and association returns (expenses and contributions) and candidates' returns (electoral campaigns, nomination and leadership contests), third party election advertising reports, and related background material.

General | Dates | People | Statistics


36-Day Election Calendar. Elections Canada.

This table shows the sequence of events after an election is called and the dates by which certain electoral activities must occur in the 36 days before election day.

Canadian Political Facts and Trends. (Appendix A in How Ottawa Spends). Annual. School of Public Administration, Carleton University.

A regular appendix in this annual review, it shows a chronology of the key political developments in each year, especially events related to the special topic of the volume. All relate to the spending and policy priorities of the government.

"The Financial Cycle" In The House of Commons Procedure and Practice. 3rd ed., 2017. Ed. by Marc Bosc and Andre Gagnon. House of Commons.

This section of Chapter 18: "Financial Procedures" has a graphic and several paragraphs describing the federal government's annual cycle of financial transactions.

"The Financial Cycle". In Appropriations and the Business of Supply. p 9-11 and Appendix 1. By Jean Dupuis. PRB 04-05E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, 2004. 22 p.

This study provides a chronology of the annual federal budgetary cycle. Appendix 1 shows the same in graphic form.

General | Dates | People | Statistics


Auditors General of Canada, 1855 to Date. Library of Parliament.

This Parlinfo page lists all of the federal  Auditors General and their terms of office.

Chief Electoral Officers 1920 to Date. Library of Parliament.

This Parlinfo page lists all of the federal Chief Electoral Officers and their terms of office since 1920 when the position was created.

Former Presidents of the Treasury Board. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Lists all former Treasury Board Presidents since Confederation with their terms of office.

Departments and Roles 1867 - Today. Library of Parliament.

Tables can be adjusted to show all the federal Ministers of Finance, or any other department, with their terms of office, and in many cases, a biographical profile. Also includes Deputy Ministers, Critics, and others.

Parliamentary Budget Officers. Library of Parliament.

Lists the Officers and their years in office since 2017 when the position was created.

Provincial Auditors General. In Canadian Almanac & Directory. Toronto: Copp Clark, 1948 - . Annual.

This annual publication contains a list of provincial auditors general with contact information.

See also the Note on Major Biographies in the main section of this guide.

General | Dates | People | Statistics


Economic and Fiscal Statistics. Department of Finance.

Besides its role in the budgetary process, Finance Canada analyzes and provides advice to the federal government on the federal and provincial governments' economic and fiscal situation. Some of their key statistical reports include:

Economic and Fiscal Update. (Title varies.) Print: 1994 -  Online: 1995 - . Annual update on Canada's economic and fiscal situation and five-year forecast used by the Government of Canada for planning and pre-budget consultations.

Fiscal Monitor. Print: 1986 - . Online: 1996 - . A monthly report that provides tables and discussion highlighting the state of the government's finances.

Fiscal Reference Tables. (Formerly Economic and Fiscal Reference Tables.) Print: 1993 - . Online: 1996 - . Annual. Tables show the federal and provincial/territorial governments' financial position over the past years, with international comparisons. (Total revenues, expenditures, deficit/surplus, debt, etc.)

Election/Political Financing Statistics. Elections Canada.

This page has access to the databases on financial reporting showing information from the financial reports of candidates in federal elections, leadership and nomination contestants, registered electoral district associations, and registered political parties. These and other statistical tables show the expenses limits, expenses and revenues for each election, election expenses by category and by party, reimbursements by party, etc. Datasets available include contributions to candidates and political parties since 1993.

Voter Turnout at Federal Elections and Referendums. 1867 - . This table shows the number of electors, the population of Canada, the total ballots cast, and the voter turnout. Note the caveats stated.

Compendium of Election Administration in Canada. Annual. 1999 - . The "Statistics" chapter gives the cost of general elections for each province, territory and federally, and the cost per elector, election expenses by all parties and candidates, rates of pay for election officials (from returning officers to poll clerks), and the cost of referenda and plebiscites.

Fiscal Facts and Trends. (Appendix B in How Ottawa Spends.) School of Public Administration, Carleton University. Annual. 1981 - .

A regular feature in this annual review, this appendix presents statistics giving showing the federal government's fiscal position with some major economic policy indicators and international comparisons compiled from many sources including the Federal Budget Plan, Bank of Canada, Public Accounts, Fiscal Reference Tables, OECD Economic Outlook, Statistics Canada Daily, etc.

FON Data Sets (Finances of the Nation):

This project by academic researchers, in partnership with the Canadian Tax Foundation, makes available Canadian public finance data, e.g. federal debt and interest paid since 1867, federal revenue and spending across the provinces since 1961, provincial income statistics and tax rates, etc.

Income Statistics and GST/HST Statistics. Canada Revenue Agency.

As the agency responsible for collecting taxes, CRA compiles statistics on individual income taxes, corporate taxes, and GST/HST collected. Some key publications (now online tables):

Income Statistics. (Formerly Taxation Statistics, Corporation Taxation Statistics and Tax Statistics on Individuals). Annual. Print: 1946 - . Online: 2000 - . Tables show, for Canada, the provinces, and the top 100 cities (by number of filers), the total income tax returns filed, total income assessed, income distribution, deductions, federal and provincial taxes paid, major sources of income, child care expenses, etc. by several variables. There are also summary tables, and historical tables covering from 1966 on. Online tables from 2011 on also show individual tax statistics by federal electoral district, forward sortation area, and by tax bracket.
Compendium of GST/HST Statistics. Annual. 2003 - . This report provides a 10-year profile of GST/HST registrants by province, major industry, etc. (2003 ed. covers 1991-2001.)  Online GST/HST statistics tables cover five years.
GST/HST Incremental Federal Rebate for Municipalities Report. (Formerly Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) Rebate for Municipalities Report. Annual 2004 - .  Shows the rebate amount for each municipality by province.

Public Finance Historical Data, 1965/66 - 1991/92. Statistics Canada, 1992. 208 p.

Twenty-six years of government revenue and expenditure statistics for the federal, provincial and local governments in Canada. Also included are consolidated revenues and expenditures, giving an indication of the total size of the governments.

Indemnities, Salaries and Allowances. ParlInfo. Library of Parliament.

Tables show the base salary and related pay for Members of the House of Commons (Prime Minister, Speaker, Leader of the Opposition, Ministers, etc.), for Senators, and Governors General since 1867.

Statistics Canada's Statistics By Subject: Government Statistics, and Economic Accounts Statistics.

These pages attempt to bring together all of Statistics Canada's public finance-related statistics on the website: tables, analytical studies, news releases, special surveys, etc. "Government Statistics" includes tables that update the annual Public Sector Statistics, (1998/99 - 2008) with revenue, expenditure, asset and liability data for all three levels of government and institutions in the public sector and much more. "Economic Accounts" includes a portrait of the federal and provincial economies and their structures and more.
Check your library catalogue or the Government of Canada Publication Catalogue for earlier editions of these publications, and others.

Statistics Canada Data. (Formerly "Canadian Statistics", "Summary tables", "CANSIM tables", etc.)

The "Data" tab on the Statistics Canada website is a way to limit a search to just statistical tables and infographics. Enter a keyword, or select tables by subject, e.g. "Government", or "Economic Accounts".

Provincial/Territorial and Municipal Statistics Related to Government Finance:

Besides the actual budget documents mentioned in the Primary Sources section of the main part of this guide, Statistics Canada and the Ministry of Finance in most provinces and territories, and some municipalities, also provide compilations of provincial/territorial and municipal economic and fiscal statistics on their websites. Municipal Financial Statistics are also reported annually by the provincial department responsible for local government in a report called Municipal Statistics or Annual Report of Municipal Statistics. Banks and other financial institutions also provide economic analysis, forecasts and summaries. Some examples: Provincial Monitor: An Update on Provincial Economic and Fiscal Matters by BMO, and Provincial/City Economies by RBC, which tracks the economies of 27 major cities.

TIP: Search your library's catalogue using keywords in the subject field: statistics and finance and [the name of the province] to find older or print versions of these kinds of publications.

Local Government Performance Index. By the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. 2007 - .
An open database of the financial data reported in the annual financial reports of around 100 cities in Canada.

Overview & Background Information

Encyclopedias | Annual Reviews | Textbooks | Parliamentary and Legislative Research Papers


Funding of Political Parties and Election Campaigns: A Handbook on Political Finance. By Elin Falguera, Samuel Jones, Magnus Ohman. Stockholm, Sweden: International IDEA, 2014. 458 p.

Provides a good introduction to the importance of party financing issues to democracy with a detailed analysis of how parties are financed around the world, summarizing the legal and regulatory framework of political party financing in over 100 countries, and providing guidance for reform.

"Political Party Financing in Canada" In The Canadian Encyclopedia. By Harold Jansen; updated by Andrew McIntosh. Updated Dec. 2020.

This article in The Canadian Encyclopedia explains the background and issues with party and election finance regulation in Canada.

Encyclopedias | Annual Reviews | Textbooks | Parliamentary and Legislative Research Papers

Annual Reviews:

Finances of the Nation. By Canadian Tax Foundation. (Formerly The National Finances and Provincial & Municipal Finances). Annual. Print: 1955 - 2001. Online: 2002 - 2012:
Continued by FON Data Sets: and survey article in Canadian Tax Journal 2014 - .

Provides an annual review of the expenditures and revenues of the federal, provincial/territorial, and selected city governments in Canada. The Data Sets include historical data, e.g. federal debt and interest paid since 1867, federal revenue and spending across the provinces since 1961, provincial income statistics and tax rates, etc. Articles analyzing the data are also available on the site.

How Ottawa Spends. Founding editor: Bruce Doern, School of Public Administration, Carleton University. Editors and publishers vary over the years. (Formerly How Ottawa Spends Your Tax Dollars). Annual. 1981 - . Online only: 2015 - .

An annual review of the federal government’s spending and public policy. Essays by leading Canadian scholars examine the key issues facing the government each year. The focus of each annual volume changes based on the major issues of the year. Appendices provide an overview of the government's fiscal position, major economic policy indicators with international comparisons and key political developments. (The 1999-2000 volume looked back at the changes in federal policy and politics over the previous two decades.)

Encyclopedias | Annual Reviews | Textbooks | Parliamentary and Legislative Research Papers

Textbooks (Selected Titles):

Canadian Public Finance: Explaining Budgetary Institutions and the Budget Process in Canada. By Geneviève Tellier. Transl. by Käthe Roth. University of Toronto Press, 2019. 256 p.

Shows how the federal and provincial/territorial public budgets are developed, and the steps involved in the budget process, from agenda-setting, formulation, adoption, and implementation, to evaluation.

Money, Politics, and the Law: A Study of Electoral Campaign Finance Reform in Canada. By K.D. Ewing. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. 254 p.

Provides an analysis of electoral expenditure controls in Canada with comparisons with those in the U.K. and U.S.

Political Party Financing in Canada. By K.Z. Paltiel. Toronto: McGraw Hill, 1970. 200 p.

This is a classic text on the topic describing party finance and fundraising within Canada's major political parties from pre-war times to 1968. (The author wrote many more articles and reports on this topic, e.g. Party, Candidate and Election Finance: A Background Report, Study no. 22 of the Royal Commission on Corporate Concentration in 1977, and Studies in Canadian Party Finance, as part of the Advisory Committee to Study Curtailment of Election Expenditures, reporting to the House of Commons Committee on Election Expenses in 1966.)
NOTE: Although not textbooks per se, some of the many publications of the 1991 Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing described in Primary Sources - What was Written - Government Publications have been used as such for more current information.

The Politics of Public Money. By David Good. 2nd ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014. 416 p.

Analyses changes in the federal budgetary process, budgetary reforms, and the influence of insiders in government spending.

The Politics of Public Spending in Canada. By Donald Savoie. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990. 433 p.

A detailed description of federal government spending practices.

Public Finance in Canada. By Harvey S. Rosen, J-F. Wen, and Tracy Snodden. 4th Can. ed. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2012. 544 p.

A widely used text intended for undergraduate and graduate students with some knowledge of micro-economic theory. Chapters cover public expenditures, taxation, and political economy.

Tax, Borrow & Spend: Financing Federal Spending in Canada, 1867-1990. By W. Irwin Gillespie. Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1991. 347 p.

A history based on an analysis of budget speeches, showing how Canadian governments taxed and borrowed to finance spending from 1867-1990. Appendices include tables showing revenue, deficit and debt for each year, major revenue sources, dates of budget speeches, etc.

Encyclopedias | Annual Reviews | Textbooks | Parliamentary and Legislative Research Papers

Parliamentary and Legislative Research Papers (Selected Titles):

Appropriations and the Business of Supply. By Jean Dupuis. PRB 04-05E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, 2004. 22 p.

Provides an historical overview of the federal government budgetary process, including the role of standing committees.

Balance Sheets and Budget Surpluses: An Analysis, 1997-1998 - 2003-2004. By Marc-André Pigeon. PRB 05-38E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, 2005. 16 p.

Examines how the federal government allocated its budget surpluses between 1997/98 and 2002/03.

Committees and Estimates: Powers, Performance and Possible Strategies. By Michael Dewing, Alex Smith and Jack Stilborn. PRB 05-78E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, 2006. 20 p.

Explores the role of parliamentary committees in reviewing departmental spending estimates.

Does Reporting on Results Make a Difference? By Alex Smith. In Brief series No. 2019-04-E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, Parliamentary Information & Research Service, Feb. 2019. 8 p.

Provides a brief history of the federal government's results-based reporting programs since 1969.

Ecological Fiscal Reform. By Frédéric Beauregard-Tellier. In Brief series. PRB 05-95E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, 2006. 2 p.

A brief introduction to the movement to make Canada's fiscal framework consistent with sustainable development objectives.

Federal Government Spending: A Priori and A Posteriori Control Mechanisms By Odette Madore. PRB 05-50E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, 2006. 10 p.

Describes how the federal government (the country's largest and most complex organization) manages expenditures.

Federal Spending, Changing Trends. By Jean Soucy and Marion Wrobel. Current Issue Review 87-2E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, Parliamentary Research Branch, 2000. (Revised periodically since 1987.)

Examines federal budgets from 1993 on.

Fiscal Policy in Canada: The Changing Role of the Federal and Provincial Governments. By Jean Soucy and Marion Wrobel. Current Issue Review 91-2E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, Parliamentary Research Branch, 2000. 22 p. (Revised periodically since 1991.)

This brief paper looks at trends in provincial and federal fiscal policy since 1975.

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada: Beyond Bean Counting. By Sebastien Defoy, revised by Lindsay McGashan. Background Paper no. 2011-71-E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, 2014. 15 p.

The Parliamentary Financial Cycle. By Alex Smith, revised by Shaowei Pu. Background Paper no. 2015-41-E. Library of Parliament, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, 2019. 27 p.

An overview organized around the budget, the estimates, and the public accounts.

Political Financing and Campaign Regulation. By Sebastian Spano. PRB 05-79E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, 2006. 11 p.

This background paper describes the limits imposed on campaign financing, summarizes the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations for reform, and party positions on financing reform.