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Registered retirement savings plan contributions, 2012

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Released: 2014-03-25

Total contributions to registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) amounted to $35.7 billion in 2012, up 3.8% from 2011. Data are based on tax returns filed for 2012.

Just under 6.0 million taxfilers contributed to an RRSP in 2012, virtually unchanged from 2011. The percentage of taxfilers who contributed to an RRSP edged down from 24.0% in 2011 to 23.7% in 2012. This percentage decline was mainly the result of an increase in the number of taxfilers.

Regionally, the highest percentage increases in the number of contributors to RRSPs occurred in Yukon (+3.3%), Alberta (+2.9%) and Nunavut (+2.8%).

Total contributions increased in most provinces and territories, led by Quebec (+7.7%) and Alberta (+7.0%). The Northwest Territories (-5.1%), Prince Edward Island (-2.3%), New Brunswick (-1.1%), and Nova Scotia (-0.2%) all reported declines.

To be eligible to contribute to an RRSP, a taxfiler must have either new room as a result of qualifying income from the previous year (generally employment income), or unused room from earlier years. The limit is based on 18% of the previous tax year's earned income, to a fixed maximum, less any pension adjustments, plus any unused room carried forward. The fixed maximum RRSP contribution in 2012 was $22,970, up from $22,450 in 2011.

Nationally, the median contribution was $2,930, a 3.5% increase from 2011. The median is the point at which half of the contributors contributed more than $2,930 and half less.

The median contribution to RRSPs was highest in Nunavut ($4,200), followed by Yukon ($3,500), Alberta ($3,480), and Northwest Territories ($3,430). Manitoba had the lowest median contribution at $2,350.

Among census metropolitan areas (CMAs), Calgary ($4,000) contributors had the highest median RRSP contribution, followed by those in Vancouver ($3,500) and Toronto ($3,480). Historically, these three CMAs have had the highest median RRSP contributions. Contributors in Barrie, Ontario ($2,300) had the lowest median RRSP contribution.

  Note to readers

All data in this release have been tabulated according to the 2011 Standard Geographical Classification used for the 2011 Census.

A census metropolitan area (CMA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred on a population centre (also known as the core). A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000, of which 50,000 or more must live in the core.

The data on RRSP Contributors (Catalogue number17C0006, various prices), RRSP Contribution Limits (Catalogue number17C0011, various prices) and Canadian Taxfilers (Catalogue number17C0010, various prices) are now available for Canada, the provinces and territories, federal electoral districts, economic regions, census divisions, census metropolitan areas, census agglomerations, census tracts, and postal-based geographies. These custom services are available upon request.

CANSIM tables for this release are available for Canada, the provinces and territories, census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations.

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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