Canadians contributed $34.4 billion to RRSPs in 2011: StatsCan

Contributions a 1.6 per cent increase from year before

Total contributions to registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) amounted to $34.4 billion in 2011, up 1.6 per cent from 2010, according to Statistics Canada. Data are based on tax returns filed for 2011.

Just shy of six million tax-filing Canadians contributed to an RRSP in 2011, virtually unchanged from 2010. Since the number of number of people who filed taxes rose slightly during this period, the percentage of people who filed taxes and contributed to an RRSP slipped from 24.3 per cent in 2010 to 24 per cent in 2011.

Regionally, the highest percentage increases in the number of contributors occurred in Yukon (2.4 per cent) and Prince Edward Island (2.3 per cent). Total contributions to RRSPs increased in every province and territory. The largest increases were in Prince Edward Island (14.3 per cent) and the Yukon (9.4 per cent). The smallest increase was in British Columbia (0.1 per cent).

To be eligible to contribute to an RRSP, an individual must have either new room as a result of qualifying income from the previous year (generally employment income), or unused room from earlier years. The limit is based on 18 per cent of the previous tax year's earned income, to a fixed maximum, less any pension adjustments, plus any unused room carried forward. The fixed maximum RRSP contribution in 2011 was $22,450, up from $22,000 in 2010.

Nationally, the median contribution was $2,830, a 1.4 per cent increase from 2010. The median is the point at which half of the contributors contributed more, and half of them contributed less.

The median contribution to RRSPs was highest in the territories: Nunavut ($4,750), Yukon ($3,480) and the Northwest Territories ($3,450). Manitoba had the lowest median contribution at $2,310.

Among census metropolitan areas (CMAs), Calgary ($3,900) contributors had the highest median RRSP contribution, followed by those in Vancouver ($3,430) and Toronto ($3,380). Historically, these three CMAs have had the highest median RRSP contributions. Contributors in Barrie, Ont. ($2,210) had the lowest median RRSP contribution.

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