Statistics -> Government of Canada Debt
The Canadian debt is confusing, because several different numbers are reported. As of March 31, 2015, which is the financial year end for the Government of Canada, here are the various numbers, in $millions:
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.
Note that full accrual accounting was introduced in the fiscal year ending March 31, 1984. This made the data from 1984 onward not directly comparable with earlier years. The Gross Debt in earlier years would have been higher using full accrual accounting.
When the debt includes all levels of government, Canada's total gross government debt in 2011 was 84% of GDP, or $1.4 trillion. See our article on Debt in Selected Countries for the significance of this number.
The Federal government paid $26.6 billion in interest expense for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015. The interest expense for each year can be found in the Department of Finance Fiscal Reference Tables 2015, Table 7 Expenses (Public Debt Charges).
The Federal Gross Debt above is as reported in the Department of Finance Fiscal Reference Tables 2015, Table 15 Gross and Net Debt. These amounts are as at March 31st of each year. See also the Department of Finance report Federal Debt - Table 8 Outstanding Debt at Year-End.
The % of GDP is based on the GDP at Market Prices (Statistics Canada V498074) for the prior calendar year. For instance, the 2015 % of GDP is based on the 2014 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.
The party in power is from the Parliament of Canada website.
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.
In 2011, the Canadian federal government committed to making their government more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens, through participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
Tax Tip: Reduce your own debt, and pressure your government to reduce its debt.
Revised: October 13, 2015
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