In the United Kingdom it refers to the tax-payers' money that is given to the monarch and immediate members of the royal family, in order to perform their state duties and keep the royal household. The civil list is effectively the royal's salary.
In Canada the civil list was a common term during the pre-confederation period when it caused much controversy. The Canadian civil list referred to the payment for all officials on the government payroll. Great controversy arose as to whether the list would be controlled by the Governor or by the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly demanded control of all money matters, while the Governors worried that if the Assembly was given this power then certain positions would be delisted. Eventually under the Baldwin-Lafontaine government a compromise was reached with Lord Elgin.
The term civil list is no longer commonly used to describe the payment of civil servants in Canada.