Pensions plans gained 3.4 per cent in fourth quarter, StatsCan says

OTTAWA – Statistics Canada says employer-sponsored pension funds were worth more than $1.1 trillion at the end of December, a 3.4 per cent increase from September and up 4.6 per cent for the full year.

The gain compared with an increase of 14.2 per cent in 2010 and 10.5 per cent in 2009.

The value of pension fund investments in bonds at the end of the fourth quarter increased 3.6 per cent from the third quarter to $424.8 billion while investments in stocks recovered from losses in the third quarter, increasing 2.9 per cent to $338.5 billion.

Smaller amounts were invested in mortgages, real-estate and other types of assets.

The report included trustee-governed employer pension plans and their pension funds.

Five million Canadian workers are covered by trustee-governed employer pension plans. Another million workers are covered by employer pension plans that are managed by insurance companies under contract.

In the fourth quarter, 70.2 per cent of pension fund investments managed by trustees were in domestic holdings and 29.8 per cent in foreign holdings, unchanged from the previous quarter.

Revenue increased 34.4 per cent to $29.2 billion in the fourth quarter due to special payments made by employers to cover pension liabilities, increased investment income and profits from the sale of securities.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version gave inaccurate figures for the gains in 2011 and the number of pension plans included in the report.