In 2020, more than 6.2 million Canadians put aside a total of $50.1 billion for their retirement by making contributions to their registered retirement savings plan, according to new data from Statistics Canada.
Compared with a year earlier, contributions increased 13 per cent in 2020, while the number of contributors increased 4.9 per cent. In current dollars, the median RRSP contribution has trended up since 2008 as contribution limits were raised — in 2020, it reached $3,600, the highest level on record and up from $3,260 in 2019.
Looking across Canada, the proportion of tax filers contributing to an RRSP and total contributions were up in seven of the 10 provinces and in the three territories in 2020. The largest increases in the median RRSP contribution was in Nunavut (up 26.7 per cent), Quebec (14 per cent) and Nova Scotia (10 per cent).
In 2019 and 2020, Quebec saw the highest contribution rates — 26.3 per cent in 2020 — and, since 2015, the province’s contribution rate has been increasing, with the gap widening between Quebec and the national rate. Yukon was next highest for the proportion of tax filers making contributions, at 24.5 per cent in 2020.
On the other hand, Newfoundland and Labrador was the only province where both the median contribution (down 8.3 per cent) to an RRSP and the proportion of tax filers making contributions (down 0.5 percentage points) declined in 2020.
In Alberta (up 1.7 per cent) and Saskatchewan (up 6.6 per cent), the median RRSP contribution increased in 2020, but the proportion of tax filers making contributions decreased (down 0.2 percentage points in each province).
The data also showed women’s median RRSP contribution was $2,960 in 2020, while the men’s median RRSP contribution was $4,280. “However, when considering RRSP behaviour at different levels of income, the picture is more nuanced, as women were more likely to contribute to an RRSP than their male counterparts for each level of income except at the highest of $160,000 or more and the median contributions of women and men were similar in most income groups.”