Participation rate in RRSPs same as previous 2 years

Average contribution $4,670: Survey
||Last Updated: 03/01/2012

Despite ongoing volatility in the financial markets, 38 per cent of Canadians contributed or planned to contribute to their registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) before the Feb. 29 deadline. The participation rate remained essentially unchanged from the previous two years (39 per cent last year, 38 per cent two years ago), found the survey of 1,500 people by BMO Financial Group.

Canadians contributed an average of $4,670 to their RRSPs this year, compared to $4,538 last year.

"It's very encouraging that, despite the instability we've seen in the markets over the last several months, almost 40 per cent of Canadians made saving for retirement a priority by making a contribution to their RRSP this year," said Tina Di Vito, head of the BMO Retirement Institute. "Regardless of how the markets are doing, it's critical for Canadians to take ownership of their retirement and save through vehicles such as RRSPs and TFSAs on an ongoing basis."

Other key findings from the study:
•Men were more likely to have contributed to an RRSP than women this year (41 per cent versus 34 per cent).
•Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba had the highest proportion of those who contributed to an RRSP in the country (42 per cent).
•British Columbians contributed the highest average amount in the country ($6,703).
•Mutual funds were the investment of choice this RRSP season with 59 per cent of respondnets investing in them, followed by guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) at 25 per cent, equities at 22 per cent, bonds at 12 per cent and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) at six per cent.

Of those who did not make a contribution this year, 61 per cent cited a lack of funds as the reason, found BMO. This was followed by:
•already having enough money for retirement (14 per cent)
•lack of confidence in the economy (nine per cent)
•not thinking it was important to make a contribution (four per cent).

"Many Canadians are financially stretched and saving for retirement often gets pushed down on the list of financial priorities," said Di Vito.

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