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Statistics -> Government of Canada debt

Government of Canada debt in selected years


Not only did the population of the world reach a record 7 billion people on October 31, 2011, but the Canadian Federal Debt also reached an all-time high.  Based on economic forecasts, the Federal Debt (accumulated deficit) reached $568 billion on October 31st.

The Canadian debt is confusing, because several different numbers are reported.  As of March 31, 2011, which is the financial year end for the Government of Canada, here are the various numbers, in $billions:

Total interest-bearing debt $801.8
Add accounts payable and accrued liabilities   119.1
Federal gross debt 920.9 
Less financial assets  -304.0
Net debt 616.9
Less non-financial assets     66.6
Federal debt (accumulated deficit) used by the CTF debt clock   $550.3

The total government gross debt is reported in the table below.  Most organizations focus on the Federal Debt (accumulated deficit), which is a much lower total than the gross government debt.

When the debt includes all levels of government, Canada's total gross government debt in 2011 is 84% of GDP, or $1.4 trillion.  See our article on Debt in Selected Countries for the significance of this number.

Year Federal
Gross Debt
Debt as
% of
Debt per
1967 $28.4 43.8% 20.0 $1,419
1971 38.0 42.2% 21.6 1,764
1976 61.0 35.1% 23.5 2,600
1981 123.6 39.3% 24.8 4,978
1986 319.4 65.8% 26.1 12,236
1991 487.7 71.7% 28.0 17,397
1996 691.3 85.3% 30.0 23,297
2001 713.6 66.3% 31.0 23,004
2006 702.5 51.1% 32.6 21,565
2007 705.8 48.7% 32.9 21,432
2008 824.2 51.4% 33.3 24,456
2009 883.3 57.8% 33.7 25,903
2010 883.3 57.8% 34.1 25,903
2011 920.9 56.7% 34.5 26,692
2012 967.7 56.2% 34.9 27,728

The Federal Gross Debt above is as reported in the Department of Finance Fiscal Reference Tables, Table 15 Gross and Net Debt.  These amounts are as at March 31st of each year.  See also the Department of Finance report Outstanding Debt at Year-End.  The 2012 Fiscal Reference Tables are not yet available in HTML format, as of October 5, 2012.

The % of GDP is based on the GDP at Market Prices (Statistics Canada V498074) for the prior calendar year.  For instance, the 2012 % of GDP is based on the 2011 GDP.  The amounts for the GDP are obtained from Statistics Canada table for Gross Domestic Product, Income-Based.

The population figures, which are as of July 31 of each year, are obtained from Statistics Canada Population by Year, by Province and Territory.

There is a wealth of information available on the Department of Finance website, including Fiscal Reference Tables where you can see not only Federal information, but also information such as the public accounts (net debt) of the provincial and territorial governments.

See also:

Canada's National Debt Clock which shows federal debt (accumulated deficit), not gross debt, from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Tax Tip:  Reduce your own debt, and pressure your government to reduce its debt.


Revised: October 05, 2012

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