Glossary of terms

Public Accounts of Canada 2017 Volume I—Top of the page Navigation

The following terms are used in this section and throughout the consolidated financial statements in Section 2 of this volume. The definitions are taken from the following primary sources:

  1. TERMIUM Plus®
  2. The CPA Canada Public Sector Accounting Handbook
  3. Glossary of frequently-used terms, Finance Canada
Accounts of Canada
The centralized record of the financial transactions of the Government of Canada, maintained by the Receiver General. The accounts of Canada summarize revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities transactions.
Accrued benefit obligation
The value of future benefits attributed to services rendered by employees and former employees to the accounting date.
Accumulated deficit
The accumulated net total of all past federal deficits and surpluses since Confederation plus accumulated other comprehensive income. The accumulated deficit is also equal to total liabilities less total assets—both financial and non-financial.
Actuarial valuation for accounting purposes
An assessment of the financial status of a benefit plan. It consists of the valuation of assets held to discharge the benefit liability and calculation of the actuarial present value of benefits to be paid under the plan. The valuation measures the obligations and attributes the costs of the benefits to the period; it also determines any gains or losses since the last valuation.
Allowance
Estimated potential losses on the realization of government financial claims or estimated financial obligations that would not otherwise be recorded in the financial statements.
Appropriation
Any authority of Parliament to pay money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Capital lease
A lease that, from the point of view of the lessee, transfers substantially all the benefits and risks incident to ownership of property to the lessee.
Consolidated Revenue Fund
The aggregate of all public moneys that are on deposit at the credit of the Receiver General for Canada.
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
A measure of price changes produced by Statistics Canada on a monthly basis. The CPI measures the retail prices of a "shopping basket" of about 300 goods and services including food, housing, transportation, clothing and recreation. The index is "weighted", meaning that it gives greater importance to price changes for some products than others—more to housing, for example, than to entertainment—in an effort to reflect typical spending patterns. Increases in the CPI are also referred to as increases in the cost of living.
Contingent liability
A potential debt which may become an actual financial obligation if certain events occur or fail to occur.
Contractual obligation
A written obligation to outside organizations or individuals as a result of a contract.
Deficit
The amount by which government expenses exceed revenue in any given year.
Defined benefit pension plan
A plan that specifies either the benefits to be received by employees after retirement or the method for determining those benefits.
Enterprise Crown corporation
A corporation which is not dependent on parliamentary appropriations and whose principal activity and source of revenues are the sale of goods or services to outside parties. An enterprise Crown corporation is ultimately accountable to Parliament, through a minister of the Crown, for the conduct of its affairs.
Financial assets
An asset on hand at the end of the accounting period, which could provide resources to discharge existing liabilities or finance future operations. Financial assets include cash and assets that are convertible into cash and are not intended for consumption in the normal course of activities.
Full accrual accounting
The method of recording transactions by which revenues and expenses are reflected in the determination of results for the period in which they are considered to have been earned and incurred, respectively, whether or not such transactions have been settled finally by the receipt or payment of cash or its equivalent.
G7 (Group of Seven)
The G7 consists of the world's seven largest industrial market economies: the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy and Canada. The leaders of these countries meet annually to discuss political and economic issues of mutual concern. In addition, G7 finance ministers meet several times a year to discuss economic policy. Their work is supported by regular, functional meetings of officials, including the G7 Finance Deputies.
Gross domestic product (GDP)
The total value of all goods and services produced within Canada during a given year. It is a measure of the income generated by production within Canada. Also referred to as annual economic output or, more simply, output. To avoid counting the same output more than once, GDP includes only final goods and services—not those that are used to make another product. GDP would not include the wheat used to make bread, but would include the bread itself. Real GDP values reflect adjustments for the impact of inflation, while nominal GDP values do not.
Net book value of tangible capital assets
The cost of tangible capital assets less both accumulated amortization and the amount of any write-downs.
Net debt
The total liabilities of the government less its financial assets.
Non-financial assets
An asset on hand at the end of the accounting period, which could not normally be converted to cash to pay off the debt, without disrupting government operations.
Operating lease
A lease in which the lessor retains substantially all the benefits and risks of ownership.
Other comprehensive income
Other comprehensive income holds any unrealized gains and losses resulting from the change in market value on assets that are classified as available-for-sale, derivative instruments used in hedging activities or actuarial gains and losses on pensions and other employee future benefits.
Public money
All money belonging to Canada received or collected by the Receiver General or any other public officer in his official capacity or any person authorized to receive or collect such money.
Real return bonds
These Government of Canada bonds pay semi-annual interest based upon a real interest rate. Unlike standard fixed-coupon marketable bonds, interest payments on real return bonds are adjusted for changes in the consumer price index.
Retail debt
Canada Savings Bonds and Canada Premium Bonds.
Surplus
The amount by which government revenue exceeds expenses in any given year.
Swap
An agreement that exchanges one type of return or financial instrument for another (e.g. a fixed for a floating rate of interest).
Tangible capital asset
A non-financial asset having physical substance that:
  1. is held for use in the production or supply of goods and services;
  2. has a useful economic life extending beyond an accounting period; and
  3. has been acquired to be used on a continuing basis.
Transfer payments
A transfer of money from a government to an individual, an organization or another government for which the government making the transfer does not:
  1. receive any goods or services directly in return as would occur in a purchase/sales transaction;
  2. expect to be repaid in the future, as would be expected in a loan; or
  3. expect a financial return, as would be expected in an investment.

Public Accounts of Canada 2017 Volume I—Bottom of the page Navigation

Date modified: