The percentage of Canadians participating in an employer-sponsored pension plan continues to rise, with roughly 6.6 million plan members in 2020, up 57,000 from 2019, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

It found more than 4.4 million Canadians were covered by a defined benefit pension plan in 2020, up 1.7 per cent from 2019, noting the majority (72 per cent) of these plan members are public sector workers.

Membership in defined contribution pension plans accounted for 18 per cent of overall pension plan membership in 2020, decreasing slightly by roughly 7,300 plan members from 2019. Nine in 10 (87 per cent) DC plan members work in the private sector and, among these members, 63 per cent are male and 37 per cent are female. Among DC plan members in the public sector, women outnumber men two to one.

Read: Report finds retirees with DB pension plans draw down savings slower than those with DC plans

Membership in other plans not classified as conventional DB or DC pensions — such as hybrid, composite and combination plans — decreased by almost 11,000 members in 2020 and more than 952,000 workers, accounting for 14 per cent of plan membership, according to the report.

Public sector plans added roughly 60,000 participants (1.7 per cent) to their membership, while private sector membership fell by about 3,100 members (negative 0.1 per cent) in 2020. The report also found female membership continues to be more concentrated in the public sector, while male membership is higher in the private sector. Of the 21 larger public plans with more than 30,000 active members, women represent roughly two-thirds of membership in those plans.

Total employer and employee contributions fell to $71 billion in 2020, down by $52.4 million (negative 0.1 per cent) from 2019, according to the data. Employers accounted for 55 per cent ($39 billion) of contributions, while employee contributions accounted for 38 per cent ($27 billion). Employer contributions for unfunded liabilities represented eight per cent ($5.8 billion) of contributions.

The market value of pension plan assets increased by nearly $112 billion in 2020 to top $2.2 trillion. The largest 31 plans held 57 per cent of total assets, while accounting for half (52 per cent) of total membership.

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