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Census of Trusteed Pension Funds, 2016

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Released: 2017-12-05

The market value of employer sponsored trusteed pension fund assets was $1.7 trillion in 2016, up 13.4% from $1.5 trillion in 2014.

The number of trusteed pension funds in Canada declined slightly in 2016 to 8,592 funds. Membership totalled 5.3 million Canadian workers. Public sector funds had 3.1 million active members, unchanged from 2014. Active members in private sector funds totalled 2.2 million members, down 2.5% from 2014.

Revenues and expenditures increase

Revenues rose 7.9% from 2014, to $183.7 billion in 2016. Employer and employee contributions increased 3.7%. Investment income grew 16.5%, while gains from profits on the sale of securities were virtually unchanged (-0.8%) from 2014.

Pension fund expenditures increased 18.0% to $83.2 billion, mainly due to a 14.3% increase in pension benefit payments. Administration costs edged up 1.5% to $6.1 billion.

Growth in foreign investments

In 2005, the federal government lifted the 30% foreign content limit in registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and pension funds. Since then, investments in foreign assets have been steadily increasing, reaching 33.0% of total pension fund assets in 2016. This was up from 24.2% in 2004, which was the last year the census was conducted before the restriction was lifted.

In 2016, foreign equities accounted for 71.9% of total investment in equities, up from 44.0% in 2004. Foreign bond investments also increased, rising from 3.8% in 2004 to 15.4% in 2016.

  Note to readers

The Census of Trusteed Pension Funds tracks the number of funds, membership and financial information of employer-sponsored trusteed pension funds. Data are available by sector (public or private), type of plan and contributory status.

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