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Pension plans in Canada, as of January 1, 2013

Released: 2014-08-28

Membership in registered pension plans (RPPs) in Canada reached 6,185,000 in 2012, up 70,300 or 1.2% from the same date a year earlier.

Membership in public sector pension plans rose 0.6% to 3,179,300, while the number of members in private sector plans increased 1.7% to 3,005,700. The public sector accounted for 51.4% of total membership in RPPs.

In 2012, for the first time, the participation of women in RPPs equalled that of men. Female membership increased 1.3% to 3,092,500. Women represented 62.8% of membership in the public sector plans in 2012 and 36.5% in the private sector.

The pension coverage rate, the proportion of all employees covered by an RPP, was 38.4% in 2012, virtually unchanged from the previous year.

More than 4,422,800 employees were in defined benefit pension plans, down 1.2% from 2011. They accounted for 71.5% of employees with an RPP, compared with more than 84% a decade earlier.

Membership in defined contribution plans, the other most frequent type, increased 2.7% or 27,000 to 1,030,300. These plans accounted for 16.7% of all RPP membership. Nearly 86% of members in defined contribution plans work in the private sector.

Other plans, such as hybrids or composites, continued their upward trend. In 2012, over 731,800 employees belonged to these plans, up 15.5% from 2011.

In 2012, total employer and employee contributions to RPPs reached a record $62.1 billion. Employer contributions for unfunded liabilities accounted for $12.9 billion of the total in 2012, up from $11.7 billion in 2011. When payments for unfunded liabilities are excluded, employers contributed 62% of the total, while employee contributions accounted for the remaining 38%.

The market value of assets in RPPs totalled $1.4 trillion in 2012, up 8.8% from the previous year.

  Note to readers

Registered pension plans (RPPs) are established by employers or unions for employees. These data come from the Pension Plans in Canada Survey as of January 1, 2013.

A defined benefit plan defines the benefits to be paid according to a formula stipulated in the plan text. The employer's contributions are not predetermined, but are a function of the cost of providing the promised pension.

A defined contribution plan specifies the contributions made by the employer, as well as by the employee if the plan is contributory. Pension benefits paid are a function of accumulated contributions and investment returns.

Other plans include plans having a hybrid, composite, defined benefit / defined contribution and other component.

Membership is defined as active members of the pension plan currently making contributions to the pension plan or for whom contributions are being made.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; mediahotline@statcan.gc.ca).

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