Retirement Savings Data

Detailed information for taxation year 2016





Record number:


The retirement savings data file provides information on the number of Canadians participating in an employer-sponsored pension plans (e.g.registered pension plans (RPPs) and deferred profit sharing plans (DPSPs)) and contributing to registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) for the taxation year.

Data release - June 23, 2017


The retirement savings data file was created in order to provide socio-economic data on the retirement savings of Canadians through registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and employer-sponsored pension plans (e.g.registered pension plans (RPPs) and deferred profit sharing plans (DPSPs)). The data provide information on the characteristics of both savers and non-savers.

The data are derived from the information provided annually to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in individual tax returns.

The primary users of this information are the federal and provincial governments. Other main users include private consulting firms, financial institutions and insurance companies.

Reference period: Taxation year, the demographic variables such as the age and sex are at December 31.


  • Income, pensions and wealth
  • Income, pensions, spending and wealth
  • Older adults and population aging (formerly Seniors)
  • Pension plans and funds and other retirement income programs

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population covers individuals who completed a T1 tax return for the reference year by the date the file was sent to Statistics Canada. The universe includes taxfilers who live in the provinces and territories and excludes non-residents, persons who were not alive as of December 31 of the reference year.

Instrument design

Not applicable.


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

Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore, no sampling is done.

Data sources

Data are extracted from administrative files.

Data were extracted from T1 tax returns provided to Statistics Canada by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Error detection

During processing, there is some automatic editing. Variables with values of unity (a type of flag for CRA) are converted to zero. In total, for tax year 2008, for example, about 4.3% of the records had at least one field changed from a 1 to a 0. In a marginal number of cases, variables with values above some absolute maxima are corrected, some negative values are changed to be positive and those with outliers in the key fields are analyzed and corrected if required. Thus, very few records are changed.


The adjustments included the following:
- dollar values of one ($1) were converted to zero;
- in a few cases, variables that exceeded a prescribed maximum were adjusted;
- some negative values were changed to nil;
- the relationship between certain dollar fields was tested and adjusted if necessary;
- sex, if unknown, was randomly imputed.

Quality evaluation

The Small Area and Administrative Data Division (SAADD) at Statistics Canada produces annual information on RRSP contributions from the personal tax returns (record number 4106). This information was used to compare both levels and trends. The quality of the estimates was also evaluated using trend analysis.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. 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 data are in conformity with the provisions of the Statistics Act and are available only at the aggregate level.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Once the data are finalized, they are not revised. For analyses, data are sometimes adjusted to constant dollars for comparison with data from other years, but only current dollars are kept on the file.

Data accuracy

Data for year 2008 are derived from an early file from CRA. They benefit from timeliness, but lose some accuracy because of it. These earlier T1 tax files contain about 97% to 99% of the records on the final files.

The data are unadjusted apart from editing and estimation of missing components to achieve a definition of income that is closer to Statistics Canada's definition of income. There are no coefficients of variation from sampling, as the population studied is nearly a census of filers and the data are neither weighted nor adjusted to compensate for the earliness of the file.

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