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

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Released: 2017-06-08

The market value of Canadian trusteed pension funds totaled $1.7 trillion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2016, up 0.4% from the previous quarter.

On an annual basis, pension fund assets increased 4.8% in value in 2016, compared with 8.5% in 2015.

Pension fund assets held in stocks increased 4.4% in the fourth quarter, while bond holdings decreased 3.5%. The value of mortgage investments has increased steadily over the last two years, rising 13.4% in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The value of foreign investments held in Canadian pension funds accounted for about one-third of total pension fund assets. Foreign stocks, which account for almost 50% of foreign investments, increased 4.2% in the fourth quarter, following a 6.0% gain in the third quarter.

Pension fund revenue increased 24.4% to $56.7 billion. Pension fund managers reported year-end increases in employer and employee contributions (+15.9%), investment income (+59.3%), and a 12.6% increase in profits from the sale of securities.

Expenditures increased 10.5% to $ 22.4 billion, mainly due to year-end increases in pension fund administration costs and losses from the sale of securities. While the increase in expenditures partially offset gains in revenue, net income still rose from $25.3 billion in the third quarter to $34.3 billion in the fourth quarter.

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

Telling Canada's story in numbers; #ByTheNumbers

In celebration of the country's 150th birthday, Statistics Canada is presenting snapshots from our rich statistical history.

In the early 1950s the growth of trusteed pension funds in Canada led to a demand for statistics on their financial operations. In 1953, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics conducted the first comprehensive Survey of Canadian Trusteed Pension Funds.

The survey collected data from 260 trusteed pension funds with 391,422 active members and assets totalling $835 million. Active members and employers contributed $177 million into the pension funds, and the funds paid out $20 million in benefits to 3,922 retired members.

Six decades later, the 2014 Census of Trusteed Pension Funds collected data from 8,876 trusteed pension funds with assets exceeding $1.5 trillion and 5.2 million active members. Contributions into the funds from active members and employers totalled $55.1 billion. Benefits paid to 5.0 million retired members totalled $52.4 billion.

Currently in Canada, 90% of employer pension fund assets are managed under a trusteed agreement.

  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.

With this release, data for the first quarter of 2015 to the third quarter of 2016 have been revised.

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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