Pension plan coverage in Canada remains at 38 percent | National Union of Public and General Employees

Pension plan coverage in Canada remains at 38 percent

The rate of participation in pension plans increased slightly for women, while men registered a small decline.

Ottawa (25 May 2010) – Membership in registered pension plans (RPPs) increased 1.7 percent in 2008 to just over 6.0 million, the first time the number of active participants has surpassed that level. This is according to Statistics Canada Pension Plans in Canada Survey at January 1, 2009 which was released today.

The number of registered pension plans as of January 1, 2009 remained virtually unchanged at 19,200.

 

Women accounted for 83 percent of the growth in RPP membership. In 2008, they represented 49.1 percent of total membership, a slight increase over 2007.

In addition, all the growth came from the public sector, where RPP membership increased 4.3 percent compared with a 0.7 percent decline in the private sector. Again, women accounted for 86 percent of the growth in RPP membership in the public sector.

Membership in private sector plans still represents more than one-half of total RPP membership, but its share has continued to decline. In 2008, private sector plans accounted for 51 percent of total membership, down from 52 percent in 2007.

About 4.5 million people, or 75 percent of those with a RPP, were in a defined benefit pension plan. The rate of participation in these plans has declined constantly from more than 85 percent a decade earlier.

Membership in the other most frequent type of plan, defined contribution, remained virtually unchanged at 939,200, about 16 percent of the total.

Membership in other types of pension plans, including hybrids and combinations, accounted for almost 10 percent of total membership. This type of membership showed high gains, increasing by 29.9 percent to 565,400 in 2008. This growth came mainly from sponsors in the private sector who added a defined contribution component to their defined benefit plans for new entrants.

About 38 percent of employees had a registered pension plan in 2008, roughly the same as the previous three years. However, the rate of participation in pension plans continued to increase for women, while men registered a small decline.

In the public sector, the coverage rate was 84 percent; in the private sector, it was just over 25 percent, down slightly from 2007.

Total employee and employer contributions to RPPs in 2008 exceeded $40 billion for a third consecutive year. Employers contributed 67 percent of the total in 2008 compared with 68 percent in 2007. More than 20 percent, or $6 billion, of the employer contributions were for unfunded liabilities.

The economic downturn that started in the fall of 2008 had an impact on market assets in RPPs. At the end of 2008, the market value was $1,016 billion, down 12 percent from the previous year. This also had a significant impact on the funding situation of RPPs.
In terms of solvency, the latest results, for the three-year period ending in 2008, show that about 75 percent of RPPs had a solvency deficiency. This means their liabilities were greater than their assets.

Registered pension plans (RPPs) are established by employers or unions for employees. These data come from the Pension Plans in Canada Survey at January 1, 2009.

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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

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