The market value of assets held by Canadian trusteed pension funds totalled $1.9 trillion in the first quarter of 2018, up three per cent from the fourth quarter of 2017 and 5.7 per cent higher year over year, said Statistics Canada on Thursday.
It said that over 6.2 million Canadian workers belonged to employer-sponsored pension plans in the first quarter. Of this group, 5.2 million or 82.7 per cent belonged to pension plans with assets managed by trusteed funds, while the remainder had assets managed by insurance company contracts.
“Investments in short-term securities saw the largest rise in the first quarter, up 6.1 per cent to $83.8 billion, followed by investments in mortgages, up 4.2 per cent to $28.6 billion. Over that same period, the value of bond holdings grew 2.7 per cent to $601.3 billion, while stock holdings grew at a similar pace (+2.6 per cent to $577.2 billion),” said the federal agency.
StatsCan said foreign investments grew 5.1 per cent in the first quarter to $713.5 billion, accounting for 37.6 per cent of total holdings. Foreign bond investments rose 10.9 per cent in the first quarter to $84.9 billion.
“This followed two consecutive quarters of declines. Foreign stock holdings posted a second consecutive quarterly rise, up 6.8 per cent to $356.8 billion,” it said.
“Pension fund revenue fell 30.4 per cent in the first quarter to $42.4 billion. The decline was due, in part, to lower revenue from non-contributions (-37.9 per cent). Profit on the sales of securities declined 48.6 per cent to $12.2 billion, while investment income decreased 24.0 per cent to $13.5 billion in the first quarter. Revenue from contributions also fell in the first quarter, down 9.0 per cent to $14.5 billion.”
The federal agency added that expenditures declined 9.1 per cent to $22.2 billion in the first quarter. Pension payments, which accounted for over two-thirds of total expenditures, fell 3.5 per cent to $15.4 billion.
Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald, including 12 years as a senior business writer.