Pension Plans in Canada

Detailed information for January 1, 2011





Record number:


The purpose of the survey is to provide information on the terms and conditions of Registered Pension Plans (RPPs), membership in them and contributions made by and on behalf of the members.

Data release - May 25, 2012


The Pension Plans in Canada Survey is an annual census of all registered pension plans (RPPs) in Canada. It provides information on the terms and conditions of RPPs, membership in them and contributions made by and on behalf of the members.

Registered pension plans are plans established by either employers or unions to provide retirement income to employees. These plans are registered with the Canada Revenue Agency for tax purposes and, in most cases, also with the federal or a provincial pension regulatory authority.

The primary users of the Pension Plans in Canada Survey are the federal and provincial government pension authorities. Other main users include the National Economic Accounts Division (Statistics Canada), the federal government (Employment and Social Development Canada and Finance Canada), private consultant firms, insurance companies and academics. The data from Pension Plans in Canada Survey is also used to generate the estimate of the value of benefits accrued in registered pension plans for the Survey of Financial Security (record number 2620).

Reference period: January 1st

Collection period: October to January


  • Income, pensions, spending and wealth
  • Labour
  • Non-wage benefits
  • Pension plans and funds and other retirement income programs

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population is all Registered Pension Plans in Canada. The survey frame is drawn from information on plans registered with federal and provincial government pension authorities and, for plans not subject to their legislation, from the Canada Revenue Agency. Data are reported to Statistics Canada only when the pension authorities have registered the plan; some existing plans may not have completed this registration process and therefore are not included in Statistics Canada database.

Instrument design

The provision of this survey is governed by a co-operative statistical program established by the provincial and federal pension supervisory authorities and by Statistics Canada.


This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.

This methodology does not apply.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files.

Data on the Pension Plans in Canada Survey for 1960 and 1965 were based on direct surveys conducted by Statistics Canada. Since 1970, administrative data have gradually replaced the survey as the data source. Therefore, the program is now derived largely from data provided by ten pension supervisory authorities (nine provincials and one federal). Some of the jurisdictions provide the information electronically, others report it on paper.

For plans having members employed in Prince Edward Island but are not registered with one of the pension authorities, the information is collected directly from the respondent once every two years. The information for Public sector plans not registered with a pension authority is collected from annual reports or directly from the respondent. Data for small plans (individual or connected pension plans) that are not registered with a pension authority are imputed using data from Canada Revenue Agency.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

All the information received from the respondent is processed by Statistics Canada. Quality controls exist at the data capture and editing stages to minimize errors. The edit procedures make it possible to compare, for each plan, current information on members and contributions with that last reported. Whenever a large change is detected or the data for a given plan appear inconsistent, the plan is identified by a computer edit and is subject to correction or acceptance, as required.


If not reported, data on plan members and contributions are imputed by using the same figures that were most recently reported to Statistics Canada.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

Quality evaluation is done by comparing the information with the previous year data and by analysing the response rate. The response rate is determined by calculating, for those pension plans in the known universe, the percentage for which we have up-to-date membership and contribution data.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

The information presented in the tables has been reviewed to ensure that the confidentiality of data on individual pension plans is respected. The data have been tabulated in such a way as to make it impossible to determine the identity of any specific plan. In the tables, data that have been suppressed due to confidentiality are indicated by an "x".

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Historical data from 1974 to 1990 have been converted to reflect the content of the current questionnaire (January 1, 2004).
Data at January 1, 1988 have been revised.
Data at January 1, 1980, 1988, 1990, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 have been revised for the contributions made to registered pension plans.

Data accuracy

As data are provided by the different pension supervisory authorities, the completeness of the data may vary from one jurisdiction to the next. The overall response rate for membership data exceeds 90%.


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