This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Skip booklet index and go to page content

2011/2012 Report on Plans and Priorities - Future-oriented Financial Statements

Summary of significant accounting policies

The future-oriented financial statements have been prepared in accordance with Treasury Board accounting policies listed below, which are consistent with Canadian generally accepted accounting principles for the public sector. The presentation and results using the stated accounting policies do not result in any significant differences from Canadian generally accepted accounting principles.

Significant accounting policies are as follows:

(a) Parliamentary authorities
Environment Canada is financed by the Government of Canada through Parliamentary authorities. Financial reporting of authorities provided to Environment Canada do not parallel financial reporting according to generally accepted accounting principles since authorities are primarily based on cash flow requirements. Consequently, items recognized in the Statement of Operations are not necessarily the same as those provided through authorities from Parliament. Note 5 provides reconciliation between the bases of reporting.

(b) Net Cash Provided by Government
Environment Canada operates within the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), which is administered by the Receiver General for Canada. All cash received by Environment Canada is deposited to the CRF and all cash disbursements made by Environment Canada are paid from the CRF. The net cash provided by Government is the difference between all cash receipts and all cash disbursements including transactions between departments of the Government.

(c) Revenues
Are presented on an accrual basis:

Revenues from regulatory fees are recognized in the accounts based  on the services provided in the year. Funds received from external parties for specified purposes are recorded  upon receipt as deferred revenue. These Revenues are recognized in the period in which the related expenses are incurred. Funds that have been received are recorded as deferred revenue, provided the department has an obligation to other parties for the provision of goods, services or the use of assets in the future. Other Revenues are accounted for in the period in which the underlying transaction or event occurred that gave rise to the revenue takes place.

(d) Expenses
Expenses are recorded on the accrual basis:

  • Grants are recognized in the year in which the conditions for payment are met. In the case of grants which do not form part of an existing program, the expense is recognized when the Government announces a decision to make a non-recurring transfer, provided the enabling legislation or authorization for payment receives parliamentary approval prior to the completion of the financial statements;
  • Contributions are recognized in the year in which the recipient has met the eligibility criteria or fulfilled the terms of a contractual transfer agreement, provided that the transfer is authorized and a reasonable estimate can be made;
  • Vacation pay and compensatory leave are accrued as the benefits are earned by employees under their respective terms of employment;
  • Services provided without charge by other government departments for accommodation, employer contributions to the health and dental insurance plans, legal services and worker's compensation are recorded as operating expenses at their estimated cost.

(e) Employee future benefits

  • Pension benefits: Eligible employees participate in the Public Service Pension Plan, a multi-employer pension plan administered by the Government. Environment Canada’s contributions to the Plan are charged to expenses in the year incurred and represent the total departmental obligation to the Plan. Current legislation does not require Environment Canada to make contributions for any actuarial deficiencies of the Plan.
  • Severance benefits: Employees are entitled to severance benefits under labour contracts or conditions of employment. These benefits are accrued as employees render the services necessary to earn them. The obligation relating to the benefits earned by employees is calculated using information derived from the results of the actuarially determined liability for employee severance benefits for the Government as a whole.

(f) Contingent liabilities
Contingent liabilities are potential liabilities which may become actual liabilities when one or more future events occur or fail to occur. To the extent that the future event is likely to occur or fail to occur, and a reasonable estimate of the loss can be made, an estimated liability is accrued and an expense recorded. If the likelihood is not determinable or an amount cannot be reasonably estimated, the contingency is disclosed in the notes to the financial statements.

(g) Environmental liabilities
Environmental liabilities reflect the estimated costs related to the management and remediation of environmentally contaminated sites. Based on management’s best estimates, a liability is accrued and an expense recorded when the contamination occurs or when Environment Canada becomes aware of the contamination and is obligated, or is likely to be obligated to incur such costs. If the likelihood of Environment Canada’s obligation to incur these costs is either not determinable, or if an amount cannot be reasonably estimated, the costs are disclosed as contingent liabilities in the notes to the future-oriented financial information.

(h) Inventory
Inventory consists of parts, material and supplies held for future program delivery and not intended for resale. Inventory is valued at cost using the average cost method. If there is no longer any service potential, inventory is valued at the lower of cost or net realizable value.

(i) Tangible capital assets
All tangible capital assets and leasehold improvements having an initial cost of $10,000 or more are recorded at their acquisition cost. Environment Canada does not capitalize intangibles, works of art and historical treasures that have cultural, aesthetic or historical value, assets located on Indian Reserves and museum collections.

Amortization of tangible capital assets is calculated on a straight-line basis over the estimated useful life of the asset as follows:

Asset classAmortization Period
Buildings25 to 40 years
Works and Infrastructure20 to 40 years
Machinery and Equipment2 to 30 years
Vehicles3 to 25 years
Leasehold ImprovementsLesser of the remaining term of lease or useful life of the improvement
Leased tangible capital assetsOver term of lease/useful life

Assets under construction are recorded in the applicable capital asset class in the year that they become available for use and are not amortized until they become available for use.

Date modified: