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Employer pension plans (trusteed pension funds), third quarter 2016

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Released: 2017-03-08

The market value of employer-sponsored pension funds grew 3.9% in the third quarter of 2016 to $1.7 trillion, following a 1.8% increase in the second quarter.

Pension fund investments in stocks grew 5.3% in the third quarter, surpassing the 4.3% gain in the value of shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange for the same period. The value of bond holdings increased 4.1%, while investments in mortgages grew 4.6%.

Foreign investments held in Canadian pension funds increased 5.0% in value in the third quarter, following a 1.0% increase in the second quarter. Foreign investments accounted for a little less than one-third of the total pension fund assets.

Pension fund revenues declined 12.3% in the third quarter, compared with a 55.4% increase in the second quarter. Employer and employee contributions fell 7.3% to $13.5 billion. Meanwhile, investment income decreased by 23.4%, compared with a 19.8% gain in the second quarter. The decline in revenue was offset in part by an 8.3% increase in profits from the sale of securities.

Expenditures fell 11.0% due to reduced pension payments, administration costs, and cash withdrawals from the funds. This decrease in expenditures helped offset lower revenues, but the overall result was a decline in net income, which fell from $29.2 billion in the second quarter to $25.4 billion in the third quarter.

Over 6.2 million Canadian workers are members of employer-sponsored pension plans. Of this group, 5.2 million (83.3%) workers belong to pension plans with assets managed by trusteed funds. The remaining members have assets managed by insurance company contracts.

  Note to readers

For the purposes of this survey, trusteed pension funds include the assets of one or more registered pension plans: those held under a trust agreement, those held by a pension corporation or pension fund society, those administered under legislation of the Government of Canada or government of a province of Canada, and those held by an insurance company for investment management only.

Excluded from the survey are pension funds held in total under an annuity insurance contract.

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