Only 26% of Canadian tax filers contributed to RRSPs in 2010

RRSP system is one of Canada's most expensive social programs, costing the federal and provincial governments over $17 billion in foregone tax revenue

Ottawa (7 December 2011) – Of the 93% of Canadian tax filers who were eligible to contribute to a registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) in 2010, only 26% actually made contributions. Half of all those RRSP contributions were made by the top ten percent income earners. Just under six million tax filers contriubted to RRSPs in 2010, a slight decline of 0.2% in 2009.

The total RRSP contributions in 2010 were $33.9 billion, which represented about 5.1% of the total room available to eligible taxfilers.

Nationally, the median contribution was $2,790, a 4.1% increase from 2009. The median is the point at which half of the contributors contributed more than $2,790 and half less.

Despite the fact that only one in four eligible Canadian tax files contributed to an RRSP and half of them are the top ten percent of income earnes, the RRSP system is one of Canada's most expensive social programs.

According to the federal Finance Department, the RRSP program will cost the federal government over $12 billion this fiscal year in foregone tax revenues - even after collecting $2.6 billion in deferred taxes on RRSP withdrawals. The program costs provincial governments more than $5 billion, for a total bill of at least $17 billion per year.

In comparison, the federal governments spent a mere $8 billion on Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefits in 2010. GIS benefits are paid to about 680 000 of Canada’s lowest-income seniors.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE