Finance Canada
Glossary of Frequently-Used Terms


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Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) (Bureau du surintendant des institutions financières (BSIF)).

A federal agency established under the Financial Institutions and Deposit Insurance System Amendment Act to supervise all federally regulated financial institutions. These include all banks, all federally-incorporated or registered insurance, trust, and loan companies, co-operative credit associations, and fraternal benefit societies. OSFI is also responsible for monitoring federally regulated pension plans. For more information, visit the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Web site.

Old Age Security (OAS) (Sécurité de la vieillesse (SV)).

A monthly payment to Canadians age 65 and over. OAS payments are taxable and are reduced for individuals with net income in excess of $53,215. For more information, visit Human Resources Development Canada's Old Age Security Program Web page.

operating balance (solde de fonctionnement).

For the federal government, the balance or difference between revenues and program spending, which includes all budgetary spending except interest on the public debt.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques (OCDE)).

A Paris-based organization with a membership of 29 industrialized countries responsible for study of and co-operation on broad range of economic, trade, scientific and educational issues. Canada has been a member since the organization was founded in 1961. For more information, visit the OECD Web site.

overcontribution allowance (marge de tolérance).

An amount (up to $2,000) of excess contributions permitted to a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to provide a margin of error for overcontributions without incurring a penalty tax of 1% a month. For more information, visit the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Registered Retirement Savings Plans Web page.

overnight financing rate (taux de financement à un jour).

The overnight financing rate is the rate at which investment dealers and other financial market participants borrow and lend funds for one business day. This is the rate over which the Bank of Canada has the most control. Through its daily operations the Bank affects the level of settlement balances in the financial system in order to influence the overnight interest rate. For example, if a commercial bank needs funds to cover the transactions at its branches during the day, it can borrow from the Bank of Canada at the bank rate, or on the overnight financing market from a participant that has excess funds. The rate charged for a one-day loan is the overnight rate. For more information on the Bank of Canada, visit the Bank of Canada Web site.

ownership restriction (restriction à la propriété).

Ownership restrictions limit the ownership by certain purchasers or of certain assets. An example would be limits on the number of shares an individual investor may own.

participation rate (taux d'activité).

The percentage of the population 15 years of age and older that is in the labour force.

payments system (système de paiements).

An electronic clearing and settlement system that enables cheques and other methods of payment to be used in transactions throughout the economy. This financial network includes the cheques payment system, the Visa and MasterCard credit card systems, the automated banking machine and debit card networks of Interac, and the separate clearing systems for debt and equities and for mutual funds. One part of the financial network was established in 1980 under the Canadian Payments Association Act to operate a national clearing and settlement system. The membership of the Canadian Payments Association is made up of the banks, trust companies, government savings institutions and major credit unions.

pension income credit (crédit pour revenu de pension).

A tax credit available on up to $1,000 of certain forms of pension income. The unused portion of the credit may be transferred to a spouse.

per capita (par habitant).

Per person. Economic measures such as gross domestic product (GDP) provide additional information when they are measured per capita. If GDP grows but the population grows faster, average GDP actually declines.

personal income (revenu personnel).

Income received by individuals from all possible sources.

personal income tax (impôt sur le revenu des particuliers).

Tax on personal income in Canada includes both federal and provincial personal income taxes. For more general information, visit the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Individuals Web page.

price stability (stabilité des prix).

A level of price increase that is so small it protects the purchasing power of the dollar.

primary market (marché primaire).

Market for new issues of securities. For further information, visit the Department of Finance Government of Canada Securities Web page
See also secondary market..

privatization (privatisation).

The transfer of government ownership of Crown corporations or public assets to the private sector. Privatization can improve efficiency, enhance competition and create investment opportunities for Canadians.

productivity or total factor productivity (productivité ou productivité totale des facteurs).

The efficiency with which people and capital are combined in the output of the economy. Productivity gains lead to improvements in the standard of living, because as labour, capital, etc. produce more, they generate greater income.

Property and Casualty Insurance Compensation Corporation (PACICC)   (Société d'indemnisation en matière d'assurances générales (SIAG)).

An industry funded, non-profit corporation that, in the event of the collapse of a property and casualty (P&C) insurer in Canada, will respond to claims of policyholders under most policies issued by P&C insurance companies. All property and casualty insurers licensed in a province or territory of Canada are required to be members of PACICC, except for insurers licensed to sell only specialty lines of insurance such as surety, fidelity, marine and aviation, as well as auto insurers in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

prospectus (prospectus).

A document required by securities laws to be filed and made available to potential investors in the context of a public securities offering. The prospectus must contain full, clear and plain disclosure of all material facts about the securities and the issuer.

protectionism (protectionnisme).

The use of government policies to protect domestic industries from foreign competition. Advocates of protectionism argue that it preserves domestic jobs and wage levels or gives fledgling domestic industries the opportunity to grow to a competitive size. Opponents maintain that protectionism hurts jobs and industries by supporting inefficient industries that are not competitive, which in turn reduces standards of living by making products more expensive. A tariff, which is essentially a tax applied to imported goods to make them more expensive relative to domestic products, is a protectionist measure. Other measures include non-tariff barriers to trade, such as import restrictions including quotas or prohibitions, and government policies of buying goods and services only from domestic suppliers.

prudential (prudence).

Exercising shrewdness, caution, skill and good judgment in the management of business matters.

Public Accounts of Canada or Public Accounts (Comptes publics du Canada ou comptes publics).

Financial statements for the federal government, which are audited by the Auditor General of Canada.

Public Debt Program (Programme du service de la dette publique).

The government's debt management program. It is designed to raise the funds required by the government at stable and low cost.

public float or publicly floated stock (fonds public d'actions).

The public float of a company's stock refers to shares that are listed and posted for trading on a recognized stock exchange in Canada and that are not owned or controlled by persons who have a significant interest in any class of voting shares.

Public Interest Impact Assessment (évaluation de l'incidence sur l'intérêt public).

Required to be submitted to the Minister of Finance for proposed mergers between large banks (i.e., banks with more than $5 billion in equity). The Assessment will (i) describe their business plan and objectives; (ii) clearly identify the benefits and costs to the nation and the public; and (iii) outline any mitigating steps in respect of public interest costs and any assurances in respect of public interest benefits.

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