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Registered retirement savings plan contributions, 2016

Released: 2018-02-16

Contributions to registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) totalled $40.4 billion in 2016, up 3.1% from 2015. Data are based on tax returns filed for 2016.

Increases in contribution amounts occurred in about half of the provinces and territories, while the other half experienced a decrease in 2016. New Brunswick (+8.5%) and Quebec (+6.0%) had the highest contribution increases, while the Northwest Territories (-4.8%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-4.7%) had the largest declines.

While there was an overall increase in total RRSP contributions, the total number of contributors was down slightly. Just over 5.9 million tax filers contributed to an RRSP in 2016, down 0.9% from 2015. The peak over the last decade occurred in 2007, when just under 6.3 million individuals contributed to an RRSP. Regionally, the highest percentage increases in the number of contributors to RRSPs occurred in Nunavut (+1.8%) and Quebec (+1.0%). The biggest decreases were in Newfoundland and Labrador (-4.9%), the Northwest Territories (-4.7%) and Alberta (-4.3%).

The percentage of tax filers who contributed to an RRSP edged down, from 22.9% in 2015 to 22.5% in 2016. This gradual downward trend can be observed over the previous 16 years. In 2000, for example, about 3 in 10 tax filers contributed to an RRSP.

Nationally, the median contribution in 2016 was $3,000, unchanged since 2013. In other words, half of the tax filers reporting RRSP contributions reported more than $3,000 and the other half reported less than $3,000.

Nunavut had the lowest percentage of tax filers who contributed to an RRSP (11.5%), but, as in previous years, those tax filers who did contribute made the highest median contribution to RRSPs ($4,060). British Columbia and Yukon had the second highest median contribution to RRSPs (both at $3,500). Manitoba had the lowest median contribution at $2,350.

Among census metropolitan areas (CMAs), Vancouver had the highest median RRSP contribution ($4,000), followed by Calgary ($3,950) and Toronto ($3,840). Historically, these three CMAs have had the highest median RRSP contributions. The lowest median RRSP contributions were in Belleville ($2,240), followed by Winnipeg ($2,370).

To be eligible to contribute to an RRSP, a tax filer must have unused room from earlier years or new room as a result of qualifying income from the previous year (generally, employment income). The RRSP limit is based on 18% of the previous tax year's earned income up to a fixed maximum, less any pension adjustments and plus any unused room carried forward. The fixed maximum RRSP contribution in 2016 was $25,370, up from $24,930 in 2015.



  Note to readers

All data in this release have been tabulated according to the 2016 Standard Geographical Classification used for the 2016 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.

Products

The data on RRSP Contributors (Catalogue number17C0006, various prices), RRSP Contribution Limits (Catalogue number17C0011, various prices) and Canadian Tax filers (Catalogue number17C0010, various prices) are now available for Canada, provinces and territories, 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.

The following table is also available: CANSIM table 111-0041: Summary characteristics of Canadian tax filers.

The technical reference guide "Investment Income, RRSP Contributions and Charitable Donations, T1 Family File, Preliminary Estimates" (Catalogue number72-211-X), presents information about the methodology, concepts and data quality for the data available in this release.

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; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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