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Pension Satellite Account, 2012

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Released: 2013-12-09

With the strong performance in equity markets in 2012, particularly on the international front, pension wealth advanced to $2.6 trillion by the end of the year, an increase of 9.1% (or $214 billion) from 2011. This represents an increase in pace from 2011, when pension wealth rose by 3.6% (or $82 billion).

Assets in individual registered saving plans grew to $928 billion at the end of 2012, an increase of 8.0% (or $69 billion) from a year earlier. This growth was much stronger than the 3.0% gain (or $25 billion) at the end of 2011.

Wealth in employer-based pension plans rose 9.2% (or $119 billion) from 2011 to $1.4 trillion by the close of 2012. This follows a 3.6% increase (or $45 billion) in 2011. Assets held in individual registered saving plans and employer-based pension plans accounted for 91.7% of total pension wealth at the end of 2012, almost unchanged from the 92.0% recorded for 2011.

At the end of 2012, wealth in trusteed pension plans increased by 10.6% (or $105 billion), making them the main contributor to the growth in the wealth of employer-based pension plans.

Pension wealth accounted for 49.8% of total financial assets held by households at the end of 2012, up slightly from 49.4% in 2011.

Wealth in social security plans stood at $213 billion at the close of 2012, an increase of 13.7% (or $26 billion) from a year earlier.

Pension plan contributions rose by 4.3% in 2011, compared with a 2.3% gain in 2010. In 2011, contributions were up for employer-based plans (+4.8%), social security plans (+3.5%) and individual registered saving plans (+4.3%).

Pension withdrawals increased by 4.3% in 2011, compared with a 7.4% advance in 2010. In 2011, withdrawals increased for employer-based pension plans (+2.8%), social security plans (+5.1%) and individual registered plans (+5.6%).

Investment income of pension plans rose by 9.6% in 2011, following a 5.0% gain in 2010. Investment income grew across all three pension tiers in 2011: social security plans (+20.0%), employer-based pension plans (+10.1%) and individual registered saving plans (+5.9%).

  Note to readers

The Pension Satellite Account (PSA) provides an integrated stock-flow representation of the Canadian pension system. The PSA accounts fully articulate the wealth positions (level of assets) as well as the pension inflows (contributions, investment income), outflows (withdrawals), and realized and unrealized gains and losses that contribute to change in wealth (revaluations and other changes in assets).

The PSA presents annual estimates for each of the three tiers of the Canadian pension system: social security, employer-based pension plans, and voluntary individual registered saving plans. The institutional dimension of the PSA presentation has been mainly defined by data availability. The breakdown of the three tiers into further detail is provided where data supported it and reflects a mixture of detail by program and by institutional dimension.

This release covers the level of pension assets at market value for the period 1990 to 2012 and the pension flows for the period 1990 to 2011. Flows for 2012 will be available with the next PSA release in the fall of 2014, when final administrative data files for 2012 become available. With this release of the PSA, the data were revised for the 1990 to 2011 period.

An overview of the scope and structure of the Pension Satellite Account as well as sources and methods used to derive its stocks and flows estimates is available in the Guide to the Canadian Pension Satellite Account (Catalogue number13-599-X), available from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

The National economic accounts module, accessible from the Browse by key resource module of our website, features an up-to-date portrait of national and provincial economies and their structure.

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; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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