Transfers to Persons

… a core concept in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100

Federal Expenses, 2016-17

Concept description

The term transfers to persons (or transfers to individuals) usually refers to payments made by governments for income support or income supplement.

The major transfers made by the Government of Canada can be seen in the top three entries in Table 6 (below) of the Annual Financial Report of the Government of Canada for 2016-17:

  • Elderly benefits: $48.2 billion
  • Employment Insurance: $20.7 billion
  • Children’s benefits: $22.1 billion

Provincial government transfers

Provincial governments also provide transfers to persons. In the case of Ontario, the distinction between transfers to persons and other transfers is not delineated as clearly as in the federal table above, but Summary table 3 of the Ontario Estimates for 2017-18 below shows that the volume of transfers of all types (to persons, corporations, agencies, and other governments) is considerable. Total transfers in 2017-18 were projected to be $110.7 billion out of a total of $133.6 billion in operating spending.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Federalism (core topic) in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100 Governance and Institutions.


Finance Canada, Annual Financial Report of the Government of Canada
Fiscal Year 2016–2017, at, accessed 20 May 2018.

Government of Ontario, Estimates 2017-18, Summary table 3 – Operating (2017-18), at, accessed 20 May 2018.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 20 May 2018.

Image: Finance Canada, Composition of Expenses for 2016-17, at, accessed 20 May 2018.