Active membership in Canadian registered pension plans topped 6.4 million in 2018, up about 85,000 members or 1.3 per cent from 2017, according to a new report by Statistics Canada.

Female members reached another all-time high at 3.24 million, rising by 49,200, with 35,500 males joining plans, coming to 3.17 million in 2018.

In addition, public sector plans saw an increase of about 65,000, with women making up more than twice as many new members as men. Public sector plan membership also accounted for more than half (52.9 per cent) of total registered pension plan members. Private sector plans grew in membership but not by as much, adding more than 15,000 men and just over 5,100 women.

Read: 2020 Top 100 Pension Funds Report: How have Canada’s DB pensions changed over the last decade?

The report noted 2018 saw a significant increase in overall registered pension plan membership, with a 0.4 per cent rise in the pension coverage rate — the proportion of all paid workers covered by a registered pension plan in the country, which sits at 37.5 per cent as of 2018.

While this represents the largest rise in the coverage rate since 2009, it remains lower than the numbers seen in the 1970s through the 1990s, which were consistently above 40 per cent. In 2018 overall, a higher percentage (39.5 per cent) of women were covered by a registered pension plan than men (35.6 per cent).

As for plan type, the number of Canadian employees covered by a defined benefit pension rose 1.2 per cent in 2018 to 4.3 million, accounting for 67 per cent of registered plan members overall and unchanged from 2017. Membership in defined contribution plans rose by 2.8 per cent to 1.2 million, coming to 18.6 per cent of overall registered pension membership. DC membership remained most common in the private sector, noted the report.

Membership in other types of arrangements, such as hybrid, composite and combination plans, only grew by 1,900 members in 2018. About 926,000 employees, or 14.4 per cent of registered pension plan members, were covered by plans classified as something other than DB or DC. 

Read: An overview of Canadian DB pension relief measures during coronavirus

Copyright © 2021 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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