Tuesday, April 10, 2018

"Welfare" Expenditures -- Public Accounts?

A researcher is interested in learning more about confirmed “welfare” expenditures in Canada, however it might be defined/normalized by StatCan.

We have located CANSIM 380-0079 (Current and capital accounts - General governments) as a means to get some numbers. This is looking at government transfers. The idea of using 380-0079 is based loosely on the context offered in the User Guide: Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts, where 380-0079’s row labelled “Less: Transfers paid to households” equates to “Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement, welfare, etcetera.” (n.b. text is listed directly from the user guide). My hunch, though, is that this might exclude the operating costs for social programs themselves.

I don’t know gov’t finances in CANSIM like others. Is there a better way to look at this issue? Another table or product to consider? E.g, is there a consolidated “Public Accounts of Canada + Provinces”? At the least, I’d like to get some certainty on what these values – transfers to households – mean in the table. E.g., do they just reflect gov’t spending to the HH for such social programs? Getting the fuller picture (spend to HH and operating costs) in tabular format would be amazing if at all possible, too.

CANSIM Table 380-0081 is the table that the client can use to extract the “welfare” estimates that we have available. In that table the variable is called Income Maintenance.

The estimates found in this series are strictly the amounts transferred from governments to qualifying households, and do not include amounts related to the administration of these programs. Public Sector Statistics Division does publish a functional breakdown of government expenditures, but our understanding is that it is only available at a high level of aggregation.