Women now make up half of registered pension members

The number of women in Canadian registered pension plans reached a record high of 3.2 million as of January 2018, bringing them up to 50.5 per cent of plan members, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

It also found the number of Canadians in registered pension plans surpassed 6.3 million in 2017, increasing by 62,800 members, or one per cent. Public sector plans made up the vast majority of that total, with more than 49,000 new members — 34,100 women and 15,200 men. And public sector plans made up 52.6 per cent of total membership in registered pension plans.

Read: Women more worried about financial security in retirement than men: survey

In 2017, two-thirds (67 per cent) of employees in a registered pension plan were still in a defined benefit plan. That total, 4.2 million workers, is up 0.7 per cent from 2016. Defined contribution plan membership is also growing, up 3.5 per cent in 2017 to 18.4 per cent of all registered pension plan membership. The majority of the almost 1.2 million Canadians in DC plans work in the private sector.

Nearly 924,000 people, or 14.6 per cent of pension members members, belong to plans that don’t fall into conventional DB or DC arrangements, such as a hybrid, composite or combination plan. While the number of people in unconventional plans decreased by 4,200 members in 2017, Statistics Canada noted membership in these plans has “risen sharply over the past decade.”

Total employer and employee contributions to registered pension plans increased 1.5 per cent year over year, to reach $70 billion in 2017, with employer contributions for unfunded liabilities making up $9.7 billion. In the private sector, employers put in the vast majority (78.2 per cent) of total contributions, whereas in the public sector, employers were closer to an even split with their employees, at 58.5 per cent.

Read: Older employees to make up larger portion of Canadian workforce

Registered pension plans’ market value of assets increased by $124 billion in 2017 to reach nearly $1.9 trillion. Thirty-one large plans with 30,000 members or more made up more than half (56.3 per cent) of those assets and also accounted for half of total all plan membership.