Contributions to British Columbia-based defined benefit and defined contribution pension plans increased by 10 per cent in 2022, while contributions to target-benefit plans increased by 9.4 per cent, according to the B.C. Financial Services Authority’s annual pensions report.

The report, which analyzed data from more than 600 pension plans, found overall plan membership increased by 26 per cent since 2014, while mergers and windups led to a decline in the total number of plans. As of Dec. 31, 2022, 631 pension plans were registered in B.C.

DB pension plans paid more than $7.2 billion in pension benefits and transfers to members in their most recent fiscal year, while DB plan membership rose 3.7 per cent in 2022, even though B.C. had four fewer DB plans than a year earlier. Multi-employer plans accounted for 89 per cent of DB plan membership.

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DC plan membership increased by 4.6 per cent year over year and total aggregate contributions to DC pension plans rose by 10 per cent, boosted in part by a 14 per cent increase in voluntary contributions made by members. The combined employee and employer contributions fell slightly from $5,891 to $5,765 per active member because contributions didn’t keep up with the growth in active membership.

Target-benefit plans paid $638 million in benefits and transfers. Roughly one in five B.C. pension plan members belonged to a target-benefit plan as at Dec. 31, 2022, according to the report, which noted the average target-benefit plan member was age 52, compared to age 61 for DB plan members.

The report also found a continued shift away from publicly traded assets towards private investments, with real estate investments increasing by 12 per cent year over year to $33.2 billion.

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