2016 CESP Annual Statistical Review

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Alternate formats

Request other formats online or call 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232). If you use a teletypewriter (TTY), call 1-800-926-9105. Large print, braille, audio cassette, audio CD, e-text diskette, e-text CD and DAISY are available on demand.

On this page

About this report

Each year, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) produces the Annual Statistical Review (ASR). The 2016 ASR provides statistics on Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) and the education savings incentives, offered under the Canada Education Savings Program, for the period between January 1 and December 31, 2016, as well as annual and cumulative historical data.

The ASR is primarily concerned with statistical information relating to beneficiaries who have received a Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) or Canada Learning Bond (CLB) payment.

Introduction

ESDC administers the CESG and the CLB, two education savings incentives linked to RESPs. This report includes an outline of each education savings incentive, an executive summary that outlines the key highlights of 2016, and an overview of the evolution of the take up of the education savings incentives, with a particular focus on children from middle- and low-income Canadian families.

Part I: Saving for post-secondary education

This section describes the range of education savings incentives available for post-secondary education (PSE) in Canada. These include both federal and provincial incentives, all of which are linked to RESPs. Unless otherwise noted, this report focuses on the federal education savings incentives: the CESG and the CLB.

In relation to education savings incentives, the term post-secondary education includes full-time or part-time studies in an apprenticeship program, or at a Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP), trade school, college, or university.

Registered Education Savings Plans

To receive the education savings incentives, a registered plan, called an RESP, must be opened with an institution that offers RESPs, such as banks, financial planners and insurance companies.

Typically, a parent, grandparent, or other family member opens an RESP and names a child as a beneficiary. The individual opening the RESP is called the subscriber. Subscribers do not need to be related to the beneficiary to open an RESP.

There are three types of RESPs:

  • Individual plans: a single beneficiary is named and does not need to be related to the subscriber
  • Family plans: multiple beneficiaries may be named but they must all be related by blood or adoption to the subscriber; and
  • Group plans: savings for several (non-family) beneficiaries of the same age cohort are pooled together and collectively invested by a scholarship plan dealer

Funds in an RESP can be held in a variety of forms (for example, savings deposits, guaranteed investment certificates, mutual funds and other types of investments) and grow tax-free until withdrawn. There are plenty of RESP options available, including low- or no-fee options.

Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)

The CESG consists of a basic amount (Basic CESG) and an additional amount of CESG (Additional CESG) for beneficiaries from middle- and low-income families.

Basic CESG

Basic CESG is a payment of 20 percent on the first $2,500 of personal contributions made into an RESP each year, up until the end of the calendar year in which the beneficiary turns 17. The Basic CESG is available to all eligible beneficiaries, regardless of adjusted income.

Additional CESG

Beneficiaries from middle- or low-income families may also qualify for the Additional CESG. This is an additional amount of either 10 percent or 20 percent on the first $500 of personal contributions made each year, on or after January 1, 2005, up until the end of the calendar year in which the beneficiary turns 17. The amount of Additional CESG that a beneficiary can receive depends on the adjusted income of the beneficiary's primary caregiver.

For example, beneficiaries from families with adjusted income of up to $45,282 in 2016 (the lowest income tax threshold, indexed annually) may get 20 percent of Additional CESG on the first $500 contributed to an RESP each year. That represents up to $100 on top of the 20 percent Basic CESG. Children getting benefits under the Children’s Special Allowance Act (children in care) also get the 20 percent of Additional CESG.

Alternatively, beneficiaries from families with 2016 adjusted income between $45,282 and $90,564 (the second income tax bracket) may get 10 percent of Additional CESG on the first $500 contributed to an RESP each year. That represents up to $50 on top of the 20 percent Basic CESG.

The Government of Canada contributes a maximum lifetime amount of $7,200 in Basic and Additional CESG to each beneficiary.

Canada Learning Bond (CLB)

The CLB is available to beneficiaries born on or after January 1, 2004, who are from low-income families or getting benefits under the Children’s Special Allowance Act. Personal contributions are not required to receive the CLB.

The CLB provides an initial payment of $500, and $100 for each year of eligibility up to age 15, to a maximum of $2,000, and is retroactive. This means CLB payments can be requested for years the beneficiary was eligible, even for years before they were named in an RESP.

Defining low income

As of July 1, 2017, eligibility for the CLB is based, in part, on the number of qualified children and the adjusted income of the primary caregiver, as outlined in the Canada Education Savings Act. For the 2017 to 2018 benefit year (July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018), eligibility for the CLB is based, in part, on the following:

Table 1: Eligibility thresholds
Number of qualified children Adjusted income
1 to 3 up to $45,916
4 less than $51,809
5 less than $57,724
6 less than $63,640

Note: Beneficiaries from larger families with higher adjusted income may also be eligible for the CLB. Information relating to CLB eligibility for larger families with higher adjusted incomes is available on request.

For the 2016 to 2017 benefit year (July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017), eligibility for the CLB was based, in part, on whether the primary caregiver would have received the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) had it continued to be paid for that period.

Before July 1, 2016, beneficiaries were eligible for the CLB when the primary caregiver was eligible to receive the NCBS.

Provincial education savings incentives

In addition to the federal education savings incentives, three provinces provide education savings incentives:

Through the British Columbia Education and Training Savings Grant, the Government of British Columbia offers a one-time deposit of $1,200 into the RESPs of beneficiaries born on or after January 1, 2006. ESDC administers this incentive on behalf of British Columbia.

The Government of Saskatchewan offers up to $250 per beneficiary through the Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings (SAGES). ESDC administers this incentive on behalf of Saskatchewan. (Note: In its 2017 to 2018 budget, Saskatchewan announced that it is temporarily suspending the SAGES payments, effective January 1, 2018).

The Government of Quebec administers its own education savings incentive, called the Quebec Education Savings Incentive. This refundable contribution-based tax credit pays a 10 percent top-up directly into an RESP. Beneficiaries may get up to $250 per year, plus another $50 per year if they are from middle- and low-income families.

Part II: Executive summary

Investing in tomorrow

For young Canadians to make the most of future opportunities, they need to be equipped with the knowledge, skills and experience that come from PSE. By investing in PSE for young Canadians, the Government of Canada is investing in the skilled and innovative workforce of tomorrow.

According to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, between 2005 and 2015, employment rates were consistently higher among individuals with PSE than those who had not attained that level of education. Indeed, 71 percent of jobs already require some form of PSE.

Education builds a strong middle class

Access to funding is an important factor in the decision to pursue PSE. Research shows that when money is set aside for PSE, children are more likely to access higher-learning opportunities than those without savings. Early savings in RESPs means saving over a longer period to get the maximum benefit of the incentives, plus accumulated earnings on funds in the RESP. This leads to more funds to access PSE when the time comes. Helping more middle- and low-income Canadians to save for the PSE of children helps reduce barriers to higher learning.

This report underscores a number of positive trends in terms of both the number of Canadians saving for PSE and the amount they are saving, particularly those from middle- and low-income families.

Currently, 51 percent of eligible children (0 to 17 years of age) in Canada have received the education savings incentives. The Government of Canada is committed to helping the remaining 49 percent of eligible children, particularly those from middle- and low-income families, access the education savings incentives.

Government priorities

Making PSE more affordable for Canadians is a priority for the Government of Canada. Through the CESG and the CLB, as well as other social and economic initiatives, the government is:

  • helping young people succeed in the changing labour market; and
  • contributing to a strong middle class

Also, in support of the mandate letter commitments of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, to work “collaboratively with provinces, territories and Indigenous Peoples to improve promotion of RESPs and Canada Learning Bonds, to make registration simpler, and to increase take up rates,” ESDC is undertaking efforts to:

  • promote the benefits of early savings in RESPs to all Canadians; and
  • ease access to the CLB for children from low-income families

Furthermore, in Budget 2017, the Government of Canada announced the following measures to improve access to the CLB:

  • undertake a pilot project to explore innovative approaches to increase awareness and take-up of the CLB; and
  • amend the Canada Education Savings Act to allow the cohabiting spouse or common-law partner of the primary caregiver to apply for the CLB and an additional amount of the CESG on behalf of an eligible child

The more skills and training Canadians acquire, the better the outcomes, both for individuals and for society as a whole. Working together, the Government of Canada and its partners and stakeholders can make a difference. Efforts of existing and new stakeholders in promoting awareness of the incentives to middle- and low-income Canadians are particularly valuable. ESDC encourages community and business partners to leverage the information contained in the ASR to promote the benefits of early savings in RESPs.

Securing opportunities: Growing personal contributions

Canadians contributed $4.43 billion in RESPs in 2016. For its part, the Government of Canada paid $1.02 billion in education savings incentives into these RESPs, representing 23 cents for every dollar contributed by Canadians.

In 2016, 2.77 million RESPs received $884 million in Basic CESG and Additional CESG.

  • Middle- and low-income CanadiansFootnote 1 saved more in RESPs and received an increased share of the incentives:
    • million RESPs received $301 million in Basic and Additional CESG (a 350 percent increase from the $67 million in 2006); and
  • 1.76 million RESPs received the Basic CESG only, representing an increase of 30 percent (from $447 million in 2006 to $583 million in 2016)
Figure 1: Proportion of CESG beneficiaries in receipt of the A-CESG
Graphs comparing the 2006 and 2016 proportions of CESG beneficiaries in receipt of the A-CESG. Text version below.
Description of figure 1

In 2006, 13% of RESPs received both the Basic and Additional CESG, while 87% of RESPs received the Basic CESG only.

In 2016, 34% of RESPs received both the Basic and Additional CESG, while 66% of RESPs received the Basic CESG only.

Also, 546,141 beneficiaries from low-income families received $134 million in CLB.

  • 126,979 beneficiaries received the initial $500; and
  • 419,162 beneficiaries received annual amounts of $100

Additional opportunities

More Canadians are taking advantage of the education savings incentives each year. There are over 7 million children in Canada (up to 17 years of age) and, by the end of 2016, 51 percent (or 3.6 million children) had received a CESG since the incentive was introduced in 1998.

This means another 3.4 million children were not benefiting from any education savings incentives in 2016, of which nearly 1.8 million were eligible for the CLB. That is why the Government of Canada is looking to engage partners to reach out, especially to low-income families, to increase awareness and understanding of the benefits of early savings in RESPs and help close the gap.

Growing RESP assets

Total RESP assets reached $51.3 billion by 2016, compared to $27.6 billion ten years earlier.

Total assets include:

  • personal contributions to an RESP
  • federal education savings incentives
  • provincial education savings incentives; and
  • accumulated earnings on all of the above

Making the grade: RESP withdrawals to fund Post-Secondary Education

Once the beneficiary is enrolled in a qualified PSE program, a request can be made for an Education Assistance Payment (EAP). An EAP is made up of accumulated earnings and the education savings incentives in the RESP (CESG, CLB and provincial incentives). EAPs are taxable income for the RESP beneficiary, who often has a modest income while studying, so the amount of tax paid on EAPs is generally low.

The beneficiary can use EAP funds to pay for PSE-related expenses such as tuition, text books, accommodation and more.

Education savings incentives are all about getting more Canadians access to the PSE they need to:

  • improve their job prospects
  • reduce student debt; and
  • strengthen the labour market

What proves that the education savings incentives are working

More children are benefitting from early savings in RESPs to pay for PSE:

  • $3.56 billion was withdrawn from RESPs, supporting PSE for approximately 420,000 beneficiaries; and of that
  • $710 million was withdrawn from RESPs that contained Basic and Additional CESG, thus supporting PSE for nearly 86,500 beneficiaries (20.5 percent) from middle- and low-income families

Part III: Education savings incentives and post-secondary education

Each year, more Canadians are using RESPs to save for the PSE of a child. This is particularly true for Canadians from middle- and low-income families.

The earlier Canadians save in RESPs, the more education savings incentives they receive. Considering potential earnings on the funds in the RESP, saving early can significantly increase the funds available to finance PSE.

Benefits of saving early for post-secondary education

Opening an RESP early can make a difference in terms of how much funding may be available for PSE.

How it all adds up

The cost of PSE continues to rise. According to Statistics Canada’s Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs survey, the average undergraduate student tuition fee for the 2015 to 2016 academic year was $6,191. Similar trends are occurring with college and apprenticeship programs.

Even though governments offer financial support to middle- and low-income students in the form of student grants and loans, and even if Canadians live in provinces offering free tuition to eligible students from low-income families (for example Ontario and New Brunswick), it still pays to start saving early for the following reasons:

  • tuition is not the only cost of PSE: additional expenses may include administration fees, books, tools, and accommodation and living expenses
  • not all programs are eligible for free tuition; and
  • free tuition may not apply to students from out of the province

Funds in RESPs can be used to pay for all these expenses, whether students are enrolled in full or part-time studies in a trade school, CEGEP, college, university or an apprenticeship program.

The following illustrates how early savings really add up over time.

Scenario 1: Saving for a child from birth

Ayan and Nasir are married with a newborn child, Johnny. They have a net adjusted income of $45,000 and receive the Canada Child Benefit, a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families. They always wanted to save for their child’s PSE, so they opened an RESP when Johnny was born and applied for the CLB.

Using some of the money from the Canada Child Benefit, Ayan decides to put $2 per day ($730 per year) into an RESP. Her contributions collect even more money – because the Basic and Additional CESG deposited into her son’s RESP. Along with the maximum CLB of $2,000, and assuming 1 percent compound interest on these savings over an 18-year period, the RESP account could build to $21,000 to help cover Johnny’s PSE expenses.

Scenario 2: Saving later when child is older

Fatima is a single mother with a 10-year old child, Sophie. Fatima has a net adjusted income of $45,000. Until now, she has not been able to save for Sophie’s PSE, even though she knows how important it is to give her a good start in life. Fatima opens an RESP and starts saving for Sophie when her daughter is 10 years old, using part of the Canada Child Benefit. She deposits $2 a day ($730 per year) into an RESP, which attracts both Basic and Additional CESG.

In the process of completing the application, the financial institution informs her that Sophie is also eligible for the CLB retroactively, for a maximum amount of $2,000. With 1 percent compound interest on the personal contributions and the education savings incentives provided by the Government of Canada, the RESP could grow to $10,000 to help cover Sophie’s PSE expenses.

Scenario 3: Catching up with savings

Because Fatima started saving later, there will be $11,000 less in the RESP by the time Sophie is enrolled in PSE.

The good news is that if Fatima wants to catch up with Ayan and Nasir, she can do so by increasing her daily contributions to $4.50 per day, which works out to be $1,642.50 annually. That would mean more than twice the amount of daily contributions. Under this scenario, Fatima would only miss out on approximately $1,000 in Additional CESG and $1,000 in interest.

Lesson learned: the earlier the savings, the greater the ability to maximize the incentives and accumulate earnings. It really pays to start saving early for PSE!

Figure 2: The benefits of saving early in RESPs: Comparing educational savings at age 18
Graphs showing the benefits of saving early in RESPs: comparing educational savings at age 18. Text version below.

Note: provincial incentives are not included in these scenarios.

Description of figure 2

Scenario #1 involves saving $2 a day from birth in an RESP, receiving both the Basic and Additional CESG, the CLB, and accumulation of interest (1% annual rate). Savings in this scenario amount to $21,603 at the time the beneficiary turns 18 years old ($13,140 in personal contributions, $2,628 in Basic CESG, $1,800 in Additional CESG, $2,000 in CLB, and $2,035 in interest).

Scenario #2 involves saving $2 a day from age 10 in an RESP, receiving both the Basic and Additional CESG, the CLB, and accumulation of interest (1% annual rate). Savings in this scenario amount to $10,424 at the time the beneficiary turns 18 years old ($5,840 in personal contributions, $1,168 in Basic CESG, $800 in Additional CESG, $2,000 in CLB, and $616 in interest).

Scenario #3 involves saving $4.50 a day from age 10 in an RESP, receiving both the Basic and Additional CESG, the CLB, and accumulation of interest (1% annual rate). Savings in this scenario amount to $19,486 ($13,140 in personal contributions, $2,628 in Basic CESG, $800 in Additional CESG, $2,000 in CLB, and $918 in interest).

Personal contributions into RESPs

Canadians are saving more than ever in RESPs, for the PSE of children.

Personal contributions into RESPs attract federal education savings incentives and, in some cases, provincial education savings incentives. Funds in an RESP may be directed to straight savings deposits, guaranteed investment certificates, mutual funds or other types of investments until the beneficiary is ready for higher education. Whatever the type of investment the subscriber chooses, RESP funds grow tax-free until withdrawn.

Annual personal contributions

In 2016 alone, Canadians contributed $4.43 billion into RESPs.

Figure 3: Annual personal contributions
Graphical representation of the annual RESP contributions. Text version below.
Description of figure 3

Years range from 2000 to 2016. Amount of annual contributions was $1.71 billion in 2000; $1.87 billion in 2001; $1.99 billion in 2002; $2.08 billion in 2003; $2.28 billion in 2004; $2.47 billion in 2005; $2.68 billion in 2006; $3.00 billion in 2007; $3.12 billion in 2008; $3.18 billion in 2009; $3.44 billion in 2010; $3.59 billion in 2011; $3.76 billion in 2012; $3.94 billion in 2013; $4.10 billion in 2014; $4.30 billion in 2015, and $4.43 billion in 2016. Year-over-year change in contributions was 9% in 2000; 9% in 2001; 6% in 2002; 5% in 2003; 10% in 2004; 8% in 2005; 9% in 2006; 12% in 2007; 4% in 2008; 2% in 2009; 8% in 2010; 4% in 2011; 5% in 2012 and 2013; 4% in 2014; 5% in 2015, and 3% in 2016.

Average per beneficiary: Nationally and by province and territory

In 2016, the average personal contribution, per beneficiary, reached $1,513.

Figure 4: Average annual personal contribution per beneficiary: Nationally
Graphical representation of the average annual personal contribution per beneficiary: Nationally. Text version below.
Description of figure 4

Years range from 2001 to 2016. The average annual personal contribution was $1,308 in 2001. Since then, annual personal contributions decreased slightly to $1,279 in 2002 before gradually increasing to $1,287 in 2003; $1,325 in 2004; $1,349 in 2005; $1,359 in 2006; $1,427 in 2007; $1,440 in 2008; $1,424 in 2009; $1,461 in 2010; $1,457 in 2011; $1,464 in 2012; $1,478 in 2013; $1,493 in 2014; $1,507 in 2015, and $1,513 in 2016.

Most provinces and territories saw a growth in the average annual amount of personal contributions. Prince Edward Island experienced the highest growth (5 percent) relative to all other jurisdictions. British Columbia, Ontario, and each of the three territories had higher average personal contributions than the national average of $1,513.

Table 2: Average annual personal contribution per beneficiary: Nationally and by province/territory
Province and Territory 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Nunavut $1,571 $1,655 $1,746 $1,807 $1,841 $1,922 $1,793 $1,977 $1,956
British Columbia $1,589 $1,582 $1,632 $1,636 $1,655 $1,670 $1,691 $1,711 $1,714
Yukon $1,507 $1,435 $1,612 $1,535 $1,569 $1,554 $1,592 $1,629 $1,677
Ontario $1,567 $1,551 $1,596 $1,595 $1,604 $1,625 $1,644 $1,665 $1,670
Northwest Territories $1,568 $1,529 $1,543 $1,465 $1,527 $1,529 $1,498 $1,537 $1,590
Alberta $1,453 $1,409 $1,433 $1,427 $1,437 $1,440 $1,459 $1,445 $1,444
Saskatchewan $1,293 $1,286 $1,324 $1,324 $1,342 $1,373 $1,406 $1,424 $1,425
Prince Edward Island $1,152 $1,159 $1,212 $1,207 $1,196 $1,190 $1,241 $1,275 $1,339
Nova Scotia $1,202 $1,191 $1,225 $1,223 $1,228 $1,247 $1,274 $1,286 $1,289
Quebec $1,175 $1,167 $1,195 $1,179 $1,181 $1,191 $1,202 $1,224 $1,248
Manitoba $1,222 $1,217 $1,227 $1,232 $1,213 $1,211 $1,215 $1,234 $1,235
Newfoundland and Labrador $1,032 $1,051 $1,092 $1,113 $1,135 $1,153 $1,190 $1,221 $1,221
New Brunswick $1,036 $1,035 $1,062 $1,076 $1,096 $1,132 $1,141 $1,177 $1,189
Canada $1,440 $1,424 $1,461 $1,457 $1,464 $1,478 $1,493 $1,507 $1,513

Personal contributions in RESPs with CLB beneficiaries

Every year, the average amount of personal contributions made into RESPs receiving the CLB continues to grow. In 2016, an average of $1,078 in personal contributions was made into 76.9 percent of these RESPs. This is despite the fact that personal contributions are not required to receive the CLB. Since it became available in 2005, a total of $5 billion in personal contributions has been deposited into RESPs receiving the CLB.

Table 3: Annual Average Personal contributions in RESPs
Year 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016
Average Personal Contribution $963 $1,044 $1,016 $1,021 $1,057 $1,078

Breaking it down

In 2016, personal contributions of up to $1,000 were provided in 45.7 percent of RESPs; $1,001 to $2,500 was provided in 40.1 percent of RESPs; and $2,501 or more was provided in 14.2 percent of RESPs.

Figure 5: Breakdown in the amount of personal contributions to RESPs
Graphical representation of the distribution of personal contributions in 2016. Text version below.
Description of figure 5

In 2016, personal contributions between $1 to $500 were made in 23% (672,265) of RESPs, personal contributions between $501 to $1,000 were made in 22.7% (664,671) of RESPs, personal contributions between $1,001 to $1,500 were made in 17.9% (523,942) of RESPs, personal contributions between $1,501 to $2,000 were made in 7.1% (207,013) of RESPs, personal contributions between $2,001 to $2,500 were made in 15.1% (443,293) of RESPs, and personal contributions of $2,501 or more were made in 14.2% (416,315) of RESPs.

Making it count: The role of RESP promoters

The role of promoters—the financial institutions offering RESPs and the education savings incentives—is essential. They facilitate the application process and help the subscriber understand the various investment options.

RESP promoters, of which there are approximately 90, are classified into four categories, including:

  • Banking services: deposit-taking institutions that provide private and commercial services to their clients
  • Investment services: institutions that provide services to clients in investment banking, brokerage services, wealth management, fund operation, and private equity, security and commodity exchanges
  • Scholarship plan dealers: institutions that offer registered plans in a group plan format by age cohort and also family and individual plans; and
  • Insurance and other: institutions that offer insurance to clients (property, casualty, life, and health) and other registered plan promoter types

The charts below show the distribution of the education savings incentive payments among the various types of RESP promoters.

Figure 6: CESG payments by promoter type
Graphical representation of the Canada Education Savings Grant payments in 2016 by promoter type. Text version below.
Description of figure 6

Of total Canada Education Savings Grant payments, Investment Services received 39.7% ($350.6 million); Banking Services received 32.1% ($283.4 million); Scholarship plan dealers received 23.3% ($205.8 million); and Insurance and Other received 5% ($43.8 million).

Investment Services received 39.7 percent, Banking Services received 32.1 percent, Scholarship plan dealers received 23.3 percent, and Insurance and Other received 5 percent of total CESG payments.

Figure 7: CLB payments by promoter type
Graphical representation of the Canada Learning Bond payments in 2016 by promoter type. Text version below.
Description of figure 7

Of the total Canada Learning Bond payments, Banking Services accounted for 51.7% ($69.4 million); Scholarship plan dealers accounted for 21.8% ($29.2 million); Investment Services accounted for 18.6% ($24.9 million); and Insurance and Other accounted for 8% ($10,7 million).

Banking Services received 51.7 percent, Scholarship plan dealers received 21.8 percent, Investment Services received 18.6 percent, and Insurance and Other received 8 percent of total CLB payments.

Government payments

This section provides details on Basic CESG, Additional CESG and CLB payments.

CESG payments

The Basic and the Additional CESG payments are proportional to the personal contributions that Canadians make into RESPs. In 2016 alone, Canadians saved $4.43 billion in RESPs. As a direct result, 2.77 million RESPs received $884 million in CESG.

As the following table and graph shows, $398.5 million (or 45.1 percent) went to beneficiaries in Ontario. Another $168.3 million (or 19 percent) went to beneficiaries in Quebec. The next highest amounts went to beneficiaries in British Columbia ($125.9 million, or 14.2 percent) and Alberta ($105.9 million, or 12 percent).

Table 4: Annual amount of CESG payments: Nationally and by province and territory (in millions of dollars)
Province and Territory 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Ontario $300.0 $325.6 $342.3 $358.0 $371.7 $380.2 $393.6 $398.5
Quebec $99.3 $109.1 $117.4 $126.6 $135.8 $144.3 $155.6 $168.3
British Columbia $91.5 $98.7 $103.2 $108.1 $113.5 $117.2 $121.7 $125.9
Alberta $73.5 $79.0 $83.8 $89.5 $95.2 $99.9 $105.9 $105.9
Saskatchewan $16.2 $17.4 $18.3 $19.4 $20.7 $22.0 $23.4 $24.4
Manitoba $15.5 $16.8 $17.9 $18.9 $19.8 $20.6 $21.8 $22.9
Nova Scotia $11.2 $12.0 $12.4 $12.7 $13.2 $13.5 $13.7 $13.9
New Brunswick $9.1 $9.6 $9.8 $10.1 $10.5 $10.6 $11.0 $11.2
Newfoundland and Labrador $6.8 $7.3 $7.5 $7.7 $7.9 $8.1 $8.3 $8.3
Prince Edward Island $1.7 $1.9 $2.0 $2.0 $2.1 $2.2 $2.3 $2.5
Northwest Territories $0.6 $0.6 $0.6 $0.6 $0.7 $0.7 $0.7 $0.8
Yukon $0.5 $0.6 $0.6 $0.7 $0.7 $0.7 $0.8 $0.8
Nunavut $0.1 $0.1 $0.1 $0.2 $0.2 $0.2 $0.2 $0.2
Canada   $628  $680 $717 $755 $793 $821 $859 $884
Figure 8: Proportion of 2016 CESG payments by province and territory
Graphical representation of the proportion of 2016 CESG payments by province and territory. Text version below.
Description of figure 8

In 2016, 45.10% of CESG payments were made in Ontario; 19.0% of CESG payments were made in Quebec; 14.2% of CESG payments were made in British Columbia; 12.0% of CESG payments were made in Alberta; 2.8% of CESG payments were made in Saskatchewan; 2.6% of CESG payments were made in Manitoba; 1.6% of CESG payments were made in Nova Scotia; 1.3% of CESG payments were made in New Brunswick; 0.90% of CESG payments were made in Newfoundland and Labrador; 0.30% of CESG payments were made in Prince Edward Island; 0.10% of CESG payments were made in Northwest Territories; 0.10% of CESG payments were made in Yukon; and 0.02% of CESG payments were made in Nunavut.

Payments to beneficiaries from middle- and low-income families

Over a 10-year period, the amount deposited by the Government of Canada into RESPs receiving both Basic and Additional CESG (therefore, for beneficiaries from middle- and low-income families) rose by nearly 350 percent (from $67 million in 2006 to $301 million in 2016), while the amount deposited into RESPs with only Basic CESG increased by 30 percent.

This demonstrates that the proportion of Government of Canada CESG money going to beneficiaries from middle- and low-income families is increasing every year.

Figure 9: Annual CESG payments by beneficiary type
Graphical representation of the annual Canada Education Savings Grant payments by beneficiary type. Text version below.
Description of figure 9

Years range from 2005 to 2016. CESG payments have two components: Basic CESG payments and Additional CESG payments. The Basic CESG payment to beneficiaries in receipt of only the Basic CESG was $435 million in 2005; $447 million in 2006; $474 million in 2007; $467 million in 2008; $466 million in 2009; $496 million in 2010; $500 million in 2011; $512 million in 2012; $533 million in 2013; $550 million in 2014; $571 million in 2015; and $583 million in 2016. The Additional CESG payment was $7 million in 2005; $14 million in 2006; $22 million in 2007; $29 million in 2008; $35 million in 2009; $39 million in 2010; $46 million in 2011; $52 million in 2012; $56 million in 2013; $58 million in 2014; $61 million in 2015; and $64 million in 2016. The Basic CESG payment made to Additional CESG beneficiaries was $27 million (7.3%) in 2005, $53 million (13.1%) in 2006, $83 million (18.2%) in 2007, $108 million (22.6%) in 2008, $127 million (25.8%) in 2009, $145 million (27.1%) in 2010, $170 million (30.2%) in 2011; $191 million (32.3%) in 2012; $203 million (32.7%) in 2013; $213 million (33%) in 2014; $228 million (33.6%) in 2015; and $237 million (34.1%) in 2016.

CLB payments keep growing

The cumulative amount of CLB payments reached $855 million in 2016. This table shows how the total has been distributed across the country since 2005.

Figure 10: Cumulative CLB payments (in millions of dollars)
Graphical representation of the cumulative CLB payments the country in 2016. Text version below.
Description of figure 10

Since 2005, the cumulative CLB payments made to beneficiaries in: Nunavut was $0.11 million; Northwest Territory was $0.4 million; Saskatchewan was $22.44 million; Newfoundland and Labrador was $7.05 million; Nova Scotia was $14.58 million; New Brunswick was $12.5 million; Yukon Territory was $0.5 million; Manitoba was $30.98 million; Prince Edward Island was $2.49 million; Alberta was $95.92 million; Ontario was $334.65 million; Quebec was $216.5 million; and British Columbia was $114.62 million.

Combined payments: Basic and Additional CESG with the CLB

Combining the Basic and Additional CESG with the CLB, the total amount of education savings incentives paid by the Government of Canada into RESPs held by middle- and low-income CanadiansFootnote 2 increased by 417 percent (from $84 million in 2006 to $435 million in 2016). In contrast, payments to beneficiaries who received the Basic CESG increased by only 30 percent over the same time period (from $447 million in 2006 to $583 million in 2016). This also encompasses a portion of the children from middle and low-income families who have yet to receive the Additional CESG and the CLB.

This further supports the observation that the proportion of total incentive payments being made by the Government of Canada into RESPs for beneficiaries from middle- and low-income families is increasing every year.

Figure 11: Ten-year comparison of CESG/CLB payments by beneficiary type
Graphical representation of the combined payment of Basic and Additional CESG and the CLB by beneficiary type. Text version below.
Description of figure 11

In 2006, the combined payment of Basic and Additional CESG and the CLB was $84 million ($17 million CLB; $14 million Additional CESG; and $53 million CESG paid to Additional CESG beneficiaries). In the same year, $447 million of Basic CESG was paid to non-Additional CESG beneficiaries. In 2016, the combined payment of Basic and Additional CESG and the CLB was $435 million ($134 million CLB; $64 million Additional CESG; and $237 million CESG paid to Additional CESG beneficiaries). In the same year, $583 million of Basic CESG was paid to non-Additional CESG beneficiaries.

Participation and beneficiaries

This section breaks down participation rates across the country, which means the extent and degree to which Canadians are taking advantage of education savings incentives. Of particular note are the growing participation rates for beneficiaries from middle- and low-income families.

National participation rates: CESG

According to Statistics Canada’s annual population estimates, there were, as of July 1st 2016, over 7 million children who were 0 to 17 years of age and were therefore eligible for Basic CESG. This map shows the breakdown.

Figure 12: Estimated number of CESG-eligible children by province and territory
Graphical representation of the Estimated number of CESG-eligible children in 2016 by province and territory. Text version below.
Description of figure 12

The number of CESG eligible children in 2016, by province, was: 7,629 (0.1%) in the Yukon; 11,181 (0.2%) in the Northwest Territories; 13,241 (0.2%) in Nunavut; 91,087 (1.3%) in Newfoundland and Labrador; 28,346 (0.4%) in Prince Edward Island; 163,658 (2.3%) in Nova Scotia; 134,410 (1.9%) in New Brunswick; 1,538,169 (21.9%) in Quebec; 2,695,174 (38.4%) in Ontario; 297,495 (4.2%) in Manitoba; 263,121 (3.7%) in Saskatchewan; 929,305 (13.2%) in Alberta; and 845,863 (12.1%) in British Columbia.

Of these 7 million, 51.1 percent (or 3,589,146) are named as RESP beneficiaries.

Figure 13: Cumulative CESG participation rate (Aged 0–17)
Graphical representation of the 2016 CESG participation rate. Text version below.
Description of figure 13

In 2016, there were 3,589,146 beneficiaries aged 0-17 and an estimated 7,018,679 eligible children aged 0-17. The participation rate is determined by dividing the number of beneficiaries by the number of eligible children. In 2016, the national participation was 51.1%.

Provincial participation rates: CESG

In 2016, three provinces surpassed the national participation rate of 51.1 percent:

  • British Columbia (55.3 percent)
  • Ontario (54.6 percent)
  • Alberta (51.3 percent)
Table 5: CESG participation rate: Nationally and by province and territory
Province and Territory 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
British Columbia 42.7% 44.2% 45.8% 47.7% 49.4% 51.5% 52.9% 54.1% 55.3%
Ontario 42.7% 44.5% 46.5% 48.5% 50.3% 51.8% 53.1% 54.2% 54.6%
Alberta 39.3% 41.0% 42.8% 44.7% 46.3% 47.8% 48.9% 51.0% 51.3%
Quebec 31.9% 33.9% 36.0% 38.5% 41.0% 43.2% 45.5% 47.9% 50.1%
New Brunswick 37.3% 38.7% 40.0% 40.8% 41.8% 42.6% 43.5% 44.1% 44.2%
Newfoundland and Labrador 38.9% 39.7% 40.8% 41.6% 42.2% 43.1% 43.6% 44.0% 43.8%
Yukon 32.6% 33.8% 34.7% 36.5% 37.5% 39.0% 40.1% 41.0% 42.3%
Nova Scotia 33.4% 34.6% 36.1% 37.6% 39.0% 40.2% 41.1% 41.7% 42.1%
Prince Edward Island 34.2% 34.8% 36.0% 36.7% 37.8% 38.8% 39.8% 40.6% 41.6%
Saskatchewan 32.0% 32.6% 33.3% 34.3% 35.2% 36.1% 36.8% 37.8% 38.8%
Manitoba 28.0% 29.0% 30.3% 31.6% 33.0% 34.4% 35.5% 36.4% 37.4%
Northwest Territories 21.0% 22.1% 23.2% 24.4% 25.6% 26.5% 28.1% 28.9% 29.4%
Nunavut 3.9% 4.1% 4.3% 4.5% 4.7% 4.8% 5.0% 5.3% 5.6%
Canada 38.4% 40.1% 41.9% 43.8% 45.7% 47.3% 48.7% 50.2% 51.1%

Cumulative number of beneficiaries: Basic CESG by age group and province and territory

Since 1998, 5.74 million beneficiaries of all ages have received the Basic CESG. Of these, 3.59 million are currently between 0 and 17 years of age while 2.15 million beneficiaries are now 18 years old or older.

Figure 14: Cumulative number of CESG beneficiaries by age group
Graphical representation of the Cumulative number if CESG beneficiaries by age group. Text version below.
Description of figure 14

Years range from 1998 to 2016.The cumulative number of beneficiaries is in millions. The number of beneficiaries is given for two age categories: between 0 and 17 years of age, and over 17 years of age. All beneficiaries in these counts have received the CESG at least once in their lifetime. The following is the count of beneficiaries over 17 years of age as of each year: in 1998, there were no beneficiaries; as of 1999, there were 10,000 beneficiaries; as of 2000, there were 40,000 beneficiaries; as of 2001, there were 80,000 beneficiaries; as of 2002, there were 150,000 beneficiaries; as of 2003, there were 230,000 beneficiaries; as of 2004, there were 320,000 beneficiaries; as of 2005, there were 420,000 beneficiaries; as of 2006, there were 530,000 beneficiaries; as of 2007, there were 650,000 beneficiaries; as of 2008, there were 780,000 beneficiaries; as of 2009, there were 930,000 beneficiaries; as of 2010, there were 1.08 million beneficiaries; as of 2011, there were 1.24 million beneficiaries; as of 2012, there were 1.40 million beneficiaries; as of 2013, there were 1.58 million beneficiaries; as of 2014, there were 1.76 million beneficiaries; as of 2015, there were 1.95 million beneficiaries; and as of 2016, there were 2.15 million beneficiaries. The following is the count of beneficiaries between 0 and 17 years of age as of each year: in 1998, there were 700,000 beneficiaries; as of 1999, there were 1.12 million beneficiaries; as of 2000, there were 1.41 million beneficiaries; as of 2001, there were 1.65 million beneficiaries; as of 2002, there were 1.84 million beneficiaries; as of 2003, there were 1.97 million beneficiaries; as of 2004, there were 2.09 million beneficiaries; as of 2005, there were 2.23 million beneficiaries; as of 2006, there were 2.39 million beneficiaries; as of 2007, there were 2.54 million beneficiaries; as of 2008, there were 2.67 million beneficiaries; as of 2009, there were 2.79 million beneficiaries; as of 2010, there were 2.91 million beneficiaries; as of 2011, there were 3.04 million beneficiaries; as of 2012, there were 3.16 million beneficiaries; as of 2013, there were 3.28 million beneficiaries; as of 2014, there were 3.38 million beneficiaries; as of 2015, there were 3.49 million beneficiaries; and as of 2016, there were 3.59 million beneficiaries.

Table 6: Cumulative number of beneficiaries aged 0 to 17 in receipt of the Basic and Additional CESG by province and territory (in thousands)
Province and Territory 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 %
Ontario 1,177 1,224 1,274 1,325 1,366 1,397 1,424 1,453 1,473 41.0
Quebec 491 518 548 586 622 657 692 731 771 21.5
Alberta 319 337 355 375 395 417 436 464 476 13.3
British Columbia 364 377 391 405 418 432 443 454 468 13.0
Manitoba 79 82 86 90 95 99 103 107 111 3.1
Saskatchewan 76 78 81 84 87 90 94 97 102 2.8
Nova Scotia 60 61 63 65 66 67 68 68 69 1.9
New Brunswick 54 55 57 57 58 58 59 59 59 1.7
Newfoundland and Labrador 37 38 39 39 40 40 40 40 40 1.1
Prince Edward Island 10 10 10 11 11 11 11 11 12 0.3
Northwest Territories 2.5 2.5 2.6 2.8 2.9 2.9 3.1 3.2 3.3 0.1
Yukon 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.8 2.9 3.0 3.1 3.2 0.1
Nunavut 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.0
Canada 2,672 2,786 2,909 3,044 3,165 3,276 3,375 3,492 3,589 100

Annual beneficiaries: Basic and Additional CESG

In 2016, 2.77 million RESPs received a combination of the Basic and the Additional CESG. More specifically, 1.01 million RESPs received both the Basic and the Additional CESG, while 1.76 million RESPs received only the Basic CESG.

The proportion of RESPs getting both the Basic and Additional CESG increased by 200 percent between 2006 and 2016, from 12 percent to 36 percent whereas the proportion of RESPs getting just the Basic CESG has decreased by 24 percent since 2006, from 88 percent to 64 percent.

This suggests that the proportion of beneficiaries from middle- and low-income families receiving the CESG is increasing every year. In addition, personal contributions make up a growing component of total RESP assets.

Figure 15: Annual number of beneficiaries in receipt of the Basic and Additional CESG
Graphical representation of the Annual number of beneficiaries who received Basic and Additional grant. Text version below.
Description of figure 15

Years range from 1998 to 2016. The number of beneficiaries receiving Basic CESG only was 700,000 in 1998; 1.05 million in 1999; 1.24 million in 2000; 1.38 million in 2001; 1.49 million in 2002; 1.55 million in 2003; 1.65 million in 2004. In 2005, the number of beneficiaries receiving Additional CESG was 120,000 while the number of beneficiaries receiving Basic CESG only was 1.63 million; in 2006, the number of beneficiaries receiving Additional CESG was 230,000 while the number of beneficiaries receiving Basic CESG only was 1.65 million; in 2007, the number of beneficiaries receiving Additional CESG was 350,000 while the number of beneficiaries receiving Basic CESG only was 1.66 million; in 2008, the number of beneficiaries receiving Additional CESG was 460,000 while the number of beneficiaries receiving Basic CESG only was 1.61 million; in 2009, the number of beneficiaries receiving Additional CESG was 550,000 while the number of beneficiaries receiving Basic CESG only was 1.59 million; in 2010, the number of beneficiaries receiving Additional CESG was 620,000 while the number of beneficiaries receiving Basic CESG only was 1.62 million; in 2011, the number of beneficiaries receiving Additional CESG was 740,000 while the number of beneficiaries receiving Basic CESG only was 1.61 million; in 2012, the number of beneficiaries receiving Additional CESG was 830,000 while the number of beneficiaries receiving Basic CESG only was 1.62 million; in 2013, the number of beneficiaries receiving Additional CESG was 880,000 while the number of beneficiaries receiving Basic CESG only was 1.66 million; in 2014, the number of beneficiaries receiving Additional CESG was 920,000 while the number of beneficiaries receiving Basic CESG only was 1.7 million; in 2015, the number of beneficiaries receiving Additional CESG was 970,000 while the number of beneficiaries receiving Basic CESG only was 1.73 million; and in 2016, the number of beneficiaries receiving Additional CESG was 1.01 million while the number of beneficiaries receiving Basic CESG only was 1.76 million. The total number of beneficiaries was 700,000 in 1998, 1.05 million in 1999, 1.24 million in 2000, 1.38 million in 2001, 1.49 million in 2002, 1.55 million in 2003, 1.65 million in 2004, 1.75 million in 2005, 1.88 million in 2006, 2.01 million in 2007, 2.07 million in 2008, 2.13 million in 2009, 2.24 million in 2010, 2.35 million in 2011, 2.45 million in 2012, 2.54 million in 2013, 2.61 million in 2014, 2.71 million in 2015, and 2.77 million in 2016.

New beneficiaries: Basic and Additional CESG

Since the introduction of the Additional CESG in 2005, the annual number of new beneficiaries getting both the Basic and the Additional CESG has steadily increased. In 2016, 47.1 percent of new beneficiaries received the Basic and the Additional CESG.

Figure 16: Number of new beneficiaries in receipt of the Basic and A-CESG
Graphical representation of the Number of new beneficiaries in receipt of the Basic and A-CESG. Text version below.
Description of figure 16

The annual number of new beneficiaries is in thousands. Years range from 2005 to 2016. New beneficiaries in receipt of both the Basic and Additional CESG: 32,000 in 2005, 82,000 in 2006, 100,000 in 2007, 111,000 in 2008, 111,000 in 2009, 115,000 in 2010, 139,000 in 2011, 137,000 in 2012, 132,000 in 2013, 129,000 in 2014, 138,000 in 2015, and 138,000 in 2016. New beneficiaries in receipt of the Basic CESG only: 202,000 in 2005, 189,000 in 2006, 176,000 in 2007, 155,000 in 2008, 144,000 in 2009, 159,000 in 2010, 154,000 in 2011, 152,000 in 2012, 157,000 in 2013, 154,000 in 2014, 167,000 in 2015, and 156,000 in 2016. Total new beneficiaries: 234,000 in 2005, 271,000 in 2006, 276,000 in 2007, 265,000 in 2008, 255,000 in 2009, 275,000 in 2010, 293,000 in 2011, 289,000 in 2012, 288,000 in 2013, 283,000 in 2014, 305,000 in 2015, and 293,000 in 2016.

Age of new beneficiaries: CESG

The line in the graph below traces the average age of new Basic CESG beneficiaries. In 1998, the average beneficiary was about 8 years of age. Since then, the average age has fallen, remaining below 4 years since 2008. In 2016, the average age was 3.6 years of age.

Figure 17: Annual average age and number of new beneficiaries in receipt of the CESG
Graphical representation of the annual average age and number of new beneficiaries in receipt of the CESG. Text version below.
Description of figure 17

The annual number of new beneficiaries is in thousands. Years range from 1998 to 2016. In 1998, there were 698,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 1999, there were 434,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2000, there were 317,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2001, there were 279,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2002, there were 257,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2003, there were 206,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2004, there were 218,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2005, there were 234,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2006, there were 271,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2007, there were 276,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2008, there were 265,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2009, there were 255,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2010, there were 275,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2011, there were 293,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2012, there were 289,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2013, there were 288,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2014, there were 283,000 new CESG beneficiaries; in 2015, there were 305,000 new CESG beneficiaries; and in 2016, there were 293,000 new CESG beneficiaries. The average age of these new beneficiaries was 7.98 in 1998, 6.91 in 1999, 6.17 in 2000, 5.74 in 2001, 5.40 in 2002, 5.38 in 2003, 5.22 in 2004, 4.82 in 2005, 4.34 in 2006, 4.21 in 2007, 3.92 in 2008, 3.64 in 2009, 3.59 in 2010, 3.58 in 2011, 3.54 in 2012, 3.52 in 2013, 3.46 in 2014, 3.57 in 2015, and 3.66 in 2016.

National participation rates: CLB

The number of beneficiaries both eligible for and receiving the CLB is growing.

To calculate the participation rate, the total number of beneficiaries who have ever received the CLB (963,805) is divided by the underlying eligible population (2.78 million children, 0 to 12 years of age).

The CLB participation rate has steadily increased over 10 years, from 6 percent in 2006 to 34.7 percent in 2016.

Figure 18: Cumulative CLB participation rate (Aged 0–13)
Graphical representation of the 2016 CLB participation rate. Text version below.
Description of figure 18

In 2016, there were 963,805 beneficiaries and an estimated 2,779,165 eligible children. The participation rate is determined by dividing the number of beneficiaries by the number of eligible children. In 2016, the national participation for the CLB was 34.7%.

Between now and 2020, approximately 250,000 more children will become eligible for the CLB each year. After 2020, the first group of children to have become eligible (in 2004) will surpass the maximum eligibility age of 15. At that stage, the underlying population of eligible children will stabilize.

Provincial participation rates: CLB

In 2016, three provinces surpassed the national participation rate of 34.7 percent:

  • British Columbia (40.7 percent)
  • Quebec (39.5 percent)
  • Ontario (35.2 percent)
Table 7: CLB participation rate by province and territory
Province and territory 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
British Columbia 20.4% 23.7% 26.0% 28.9% 31.8% 34.3% 36.5% 38.1% 40.7%
Quebec 19.3% 22.9% 25.1% 27.6% 30.9% 33.0% 34.9% 37.0% 39.5%
Ontario 16.5% 20.1% 22.7% 26.1% 29.4% 31.3% 32.8% 33.9% 35.2%
Alberta 16.3% 19.0% 21.3% 23.7% 26.4% 28.6% 30.5% 33.0% 33.8%
Prince Edward Island 10.0% 12.4% 14.3% 16.4% 19.3% 21.3% 22.7% 24.0% 25.3%
New Brunswick 9.8% 11.9% 14.5% 19.7% 21.2% 22.0% 22.8% 23.6% 24.7%
Manitoba 10.2% 11.8% 14.6% 16.9% 19.2% 20.7% 22.0% 23.4% 25.2%
Yukon Territory 15.4% 17.7% 19.4% 16.8% 18.7% 21.7% 22.7% 23.5% 24.9%
Nova Scotia 10.1% 11.8% 14.6% 16.8% 19.3% 20.6% 21.8% 22.6% 23.8%
Newfoundland and Labrador 10.7% 13.0% 15.1% 17.4% 19.2% 19.9% 21.0% 21.8% 22.7%
Saskatchewan 11.6% 14.0% 16.2% 16.7% 18.2% 19.3% 20.4% 21.4% 22.8%
Northwest Territories 3.8% 4.8% 5.8% 7.1% 7.8% 8.4% 9.3% 10.0% 10.5%
Nunavut 1.3% 1.5% 1.5% 1.5% 1.5% 1.5% 1.6% 1.6% 1.7%
Canada 16.6% 19.8% 22.2% 24.9% 27.9% 29.8% 31.5% 33.1% 34.7%

New and annual beneficiaries: CLB

The dynamics that contribute to the growth in CLB beneficiaries include:

  • the number of new beneficiaries
  • the continuing eligibility of existing beneficiaries; and
  • the underlying population of eligible children

The cumulative underlying population of eligible children was 2.8 million in 2016.

Meanwhile, the cumulative number of children who have ever received the CLB has increased by 12.5 percent, (from 830,735 children in 2015 to 963,805 children in 2016). The growth is a result of 126,979 new beneficiaries having received the CLB.

If growth projections hold true, 250,000 more children will become eligible for the CLB in 2017, of which 130,000 beneficiaries will be receiving it for the first time.

Figure 19: CLB participation rate: Nationally
Graphical representation of the Canada Learning Bond participation rates by year. Text version below.
Description of figure 19

Both the cumulative number of beneficiaries and eligible children are in millions. Participation rate is in percentages. Years range from 2005 to 2016. As of 2005, there were no CLB beneficiaries out of 270,000 eligible children; as of 2006, there were 30,000 CLB beneficiaries out of 460,000 eligible children; as of 2007, there were 80,000 CLB beneficiaries out of 650,000 eligible children; as of 2008, there were 140,000 CLB beneficiaries out of 860,000 eligible children; as of 2009, there were 220,000 CLB beneficiaries out of 1.09 million eligible children; as of 2010, there were 300,000 CLB beneficiaries out of 1.33 million eligible children; as of 2011, there were 390,000 CLB beneficiaries out of 1.58 million eligible children; as of 2012, there were 510,000 CLB beneficiaries out of 1.82 million eligible children; as of 2013, there were 610,000 CLB beneficiaries out of 2.06 million eligible children; as of 2014, there were 720,000 CLB beneficiaries out of 2.29 million eligible children; as of 2015, there were 840,000 CLB beneficiaries out of 2.53 million eligible children; and as of 2016, there were 960,000 CLB beneficiaries out of 2.78 million eligible children. The cumulative Canada Learning Bond participation rate was 0.3% as of 2005, 6.0% as of 2006, 11.8% as of 2007, 16.6% as of 2008, 19.8% as of 2009, 22.2% as of 2010, 24.9% as of 2011, 27.9% as of 2012, 29.8% as of 2013, 31.5% as of 2014, 33.1% as of 2015, and 34.7% as of 2016.

In 2016, 546,141 beneficiaries received $134 million in CLB.

This breaks down into 126,979 new beneficiaries who received a minimum of $500 and 419,162 existing beneficiaries who continued receiving the annual amount of $100.

Figure 20: Annual CLB payments and number of beneficiaries in receipt of the CLB
Graphical representation of the Annual Canada Learning Bond payments and beneficiaries. Text version below.
Description of figure 20

Years range from 2005 to 2016. In 2005, a total of 800 children received $500,000 in CLB; in 2006, a total of 26,700 children received $16.6 million in CLB; in 2007, 66,100 children received $33.4 million in CLB; in 2008, 109,600 children received $47.2 million in CLB; in 2009, 156,300 children received $56.1 million in CLB; in 2010, 204,900 children received $64.9 million in CLB; in 2011, 267,300 children received $80.2 million in CLB; in 2012, 336,300 children received $99.3 million in CLB; in 2013, 383,500 children received $100.7 million in CLB; in 2014, 430,600 children received $106.3 million in CLB; in 2015, 480,100 children received $116.4 million in CLB; and in 2016, 546,100 children received $134.2 million in CLB.

RESPs: Total assets

An RESP is required to access the education savings incentives. Whether a combination of personal contributions and the education savings incentives or incentives alone, the money set aside in these plans grows tax-free until withdrawn when the beneficiaries enroll in PSE.

RESP assets reached $51.3 billion by December 31, 2016. The chart below shows the total market value of assets for each year since 1998, when the CESG was introduced.

Figure 21: Total RESP assets by year
Graphical representation of the RESP assets by year. Text version below.
Description of figure 21

Years range from 1998 to 2016. The value of RESP Assets was $4 billion in 1998. Since then, RESP assets have grown gradually to $5.6 billion in 1999; $7.2 billion in 2000; $8.2 billion in 2001; $10 billion in 2002; $12.6 billion in 2003; $15.2 billion in 2004; $18 billion in 2005; $21.3 billion in 2006; and $23.4 billion in 2007. In 2008, the value dropped to $22.6 billion but continued rising again to $25.9 billion in 2009, $27.6 billion in 2010, $31.6 billion in 2011, $35.6 billion in 2012, $40.5 billion in 2013, $44.4 billion in 2014, $47 billion in 2015, and $51.3 billion in 2016.

Assets by promoter type

In 2016, Investment Services held the largest RESP market share of 46.4 percent, Banking Services held 26.5 percent, Scholarship plan dealers held 23 percent, and Insurance and Other held 4.1 percent.

Figure 22: RESP assets by promoter type
Graphical representation of the Proportion of RESP asset values by promoter type. Text version below.
Description of figure 22

In 2016, Investment Services had 46.4% ($23.8 billion) of market share; Banking Services had 26.5% ($13.6 billion) of market share; Scholarship plan dealers had 23% ($11.8 billion) of market share; and Insurance and Other had 4.1% ($2.1 billion) of market share.

RESP withdrawals for post-secondary education

The Government of Canada believes that RESPs and education savings incentives make good financial sense for Canadians. Money that accumulates in an RESP may not be enough to fund a complete post-secondary program, particularly when factoring in living and other expenses. However, using RESPs to save for PSE may help reduce the reliance on loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

This section looks at those who benefited from RESP funds in 2016. It explains how the withdrawal process works and describes the difference that education savings incentives are making when it comes to the average cost of PSE.

Withdrawing: Education Assistance Payments (EAPs)

EAPs consist of federal and provincial education savings incentives paid into RESPs plus accumulated earnings over time. These amounts can be withdrawn upon proof of enrolment and become taxable income to the beneficiary. Since most beneficiaries earn limited income during their post-secondary studies, the amount of tax payable on this money is generally low.

Total withdrawals: Nationally

In 2016, Canadians withdrew a total of $3.56 billion to help cover the cost of PSE for 419,611 beneficiaries. The average amount of the withdrawal was $8,487.

Table 8: Total RESP withdrawals
Year 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
(1) Total Value (in billions) $2.15 $2.44 $2.77 $3.07 $3.29 $3.56
(2) Number of Students 310,513 335,934 360,980 382,173 396,957 419,611
(3) Average = (1) / (2) $6,926 $7,255 $7,671 $8,045 $8,298 $8,487

Total withdrawals: Beneficiaries who received Basic and Additional CESG

Of the total RESP withdrawals, $710 million was withdrawn from RESPs for 86,478 beneficiaries from middle- and low-income familiesFootnote 3 who had benefited from both the Basic and the Additional CESG. The average withdrawal amount was $8,207.

Table 9: RESP withdrawals for beneficiaries from low- and middle income families in receipt of both Basic and Additional CESG
Year 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
(1) Total value (in millions) $210 $290 $390 $490 $600 $710
(2) Number of students 27,580 38,123 49,680 61,586 73,034 86,478
(3) Average = (1) / (2) $7,531 $7,638 $7,900 $8,030 $8,226 $8,207

Total withdrawals: Beneficiaries who received only the Basic CESG

$2.85 billion was withdrawn from RESPs for 333,133 beneficiaries who had benefited from only the Basic CESG. The average withdrawal amount was $8,559.

Table 10: RESP Withdrawals for students in receipt of the Basic CESG only
Year 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
(1) Total value (in millions) $1,940 $2,150 $2,380 $2,580 $2,690 $2,850
(2) Number of students 282,933 297,811 311,300 320,587 323,923 333,133
(3) Average = (1) / (2) $6,867 $7,206 $7,635 $8,048 $8,314 $8,559

Breakdown of RESP withdrawals

In 2016, beneficiaries received $1.46 billion in the form of EAPs and subscribers withdrew $2.10 billion in the form of PSE withdrawal, for a total of $3.56 billion RESP withdrawals.

Figure 23: Education assistance payments and PSE withdrawals
Graphical representation of the Educational assistance payments and post-secondary education withdrawals by year. Text version below.
Description of figure 23

Years range from 1998 to 2016. RESP withdrawals for PSE are given by total withdrawals, EAPs and PSE withdrawals. For post-secondary education purposes, $300,000 was withdrawn in 1998 ($200,000 in PSE withdrawals and $100,000 in EAPs); $14 million was withdrawn in 1999 ($13 million in PSE withdrawals and $1 million in EAPs); $46 million was withdrawn in 2000 ($38 million in PSE withdrawals and $8 million in EAPs); $93 million was withdrawn in 2001 ($53 million in PSE withdrawals and $40 million in EAPs); $237 million was withdrawn in 2002 ($145 million in PSE withdrawals and $92 million in EAPs); $445 million was withdrawn in 2003 ($285 million in PSE withdrawals and $160 million in EAPs); $641 million was withdrawn in 2004 ($402 million in PSE withdrawals and $239 million in EAPs); $842 million was withdrawn in 2005 ($516 million in PSE withdrawals and $327 million in EAPs); $1,097 million was withdrawn in 2006 ($652 million in PSE withdrawals and $445 million in EAPs); $1,342 million was withdrawn in 2007 ($777 million in PSE withdrawals and $565 million in EAPs); $1,441 million was withdrawn in 2008 ($887 million in PSE withdrawals and $554 million in EAPs); $1,573 million was withdrawn in 2009 ($1,011 million in PSE withdrawals and $562 million in EAPs); $1,952 million was withdrawn in 2010 ($1,248 million in PSE withdrawals and $704 million in EAPs); $2,151 million was withdrawn in 2011 ($1,392 million in PSE withdrawals and $759 million in EAPs); $2,437 million was withdrawn in 2012 ($1,584 million in PSE withdrawals and $853 million in EAPs); $2,769 million was withdrawn in 2013 ($1,738 million in PSE withdrawals and $1,031 million in EAPs); $3,075 million was withdrawn in 2014 ($1,836 million in PSE withdrawals and $1,238 million in EAPs); $3,294 million was withdrawn in 2015 ($1,960 million in PSE withdrawals and $1,334 million in EAPs); and $3,561 million was withdrawn in 2016 ($2,101 million in PSE withdrawals and $1,460 million in EAPs).

Withdrawing personal contributions from an RESP

RESP subscribers can withdraw their personal contributions when the beneficiary enrolls in PSE. There are penalties (that is education savings incentives may have to be repaid to the government) to withdraw contributions when a beneficiary named in the RESP is not yet eligible for an EAP. Once requirements are met, the subscriber’s RESP promoter will facilitate the withdrawal of their personal contributions in any tax-free increment specified, including a lump sum.

Government of Canada outreach activities

Despite the increased savings in RESPs, there remains room for improvement. In particular, there needs to be more encouragement to open RESPs and to obtain the CLB for children from low income families.

This section describes the primary challenges faced by those who are eligible, yet not receiving, the incentives. In addition, it summarizes government outreach activities and plans to address these challenges.

Challenges to access

The challenges that may be encountered in opening RESPs and applying for the incentives on behalf of an eligible child include:

  • low awareness
  • lack of documents needed to get a Social Insurance Number, including a child’s birth certificate
  • low levels of financial literacy, which is instrumental in making investment decisions
  • poor experiences with, or limited access to, financial institutions and services
  • logistical challenges attending appointments in person at financial institutions, such as transportation, child care, and time off work

Some groups may have more difficulty overcoming these obstacles than others. These could include newcomers, single parents and Indigenous people, as well as those living in rural or isolated communities.

An updated approach

Since 2013, ESDC has made improvements to encourage greater take-up of these incentives targeted to middle- and low-income families. Three separate application forms, one each for Basic CESG, Additional CESG and the CLB, were combined into one simplified form for ease of access to all education savings incentives. As such, anyone who opened an RESP prior to 2013 may wish to inquire with their financial institution to ensure that beneficiaries receive all of the education savings incentives for which they are eligible.

For several years, including 2016, ESDC conducted several different outreach activities.

Direct contact with eligible families: quarterly, 30,000 to 50,000 letters are sent to families with children newly eligible for, but not yet receiving, the CLB.

Support for community-based organizations: ESDC provides secretariat support to the Canada Learning Bond Champions’ Network. The network consists of community-based organizations, financial institutions, and other organizations with an interest in supporting Canadians in accessing the CLB.

Education Savings Week: ESDC also provides secretariat support to the Education Savings Week Working Group. This group consists of community partners engaged in a variety of activities to promote early savings for PSE, and helps raise awareness of the incentives. Education Savings Week coincides with Financial Literacy Month (November), National Child Day (November 20) and Financial Planners Week.

ESDC is looking to partner with more key stakeholders to increase outreach and help raise awareness of the incentives and the importance of early savings for PSE. ESDC would like to partner with organizations involved in:

  • poverty reduction
  • services for low-income families
  • child welfare
  • multicultural services and services for newcomers
  • Indigenous services
  • education services
  • financial intermediary services

With the support of Service Canada and other federal departments, including the Canada Revenue Agency and the Department of Finance, ESDC will continue to work with existing stakeholders to:

  • help identify children from middle- and low-income families not already benefiting from the incentives
  • offer information on and help with applying for a SIN
  • help people open RESPs

The data in this report

Each year, ESDC produces an Annual Statistical Review of the education savings incentives. The report provides statistics on RESPs, the Basic CESG, the Additional CESG and the CLB for the period from January 1 to December 31, 2016, as well as historical data.

The statistical information relates to beneficiaries who have received the CESG and the CLB.

Data sources: The data are sourced from the CESP reporting database, which compiles data from approximately 90 RESP promoters.

Dates: The date on which a transaction between an RESP subscriber and an RESP promoter took place (transaction date) was used for the calculation of both the Basic and Additional CESG and EAPs. Statistics related to the CLB are calculated based on the processing date, which is the date on which the incentive was paid into an RESP.

Rounding: Due to rounding decimal points, numbers presented throughout this report may not add up precisely and may not always exactly reflect the absolute figures.

Aggregation and non-Canadian Residents: National totals include data on beneficiaries whose regional identity is either unknown or outside of Canada; as such, provincial and territorial statistics may not add up exactly to the stated national total.

Historical data: The 2016 report supersedes previous editions. Due to the nature of financial transactions, the data for previous years are also updated because of the existence of transaction reversals, repayments, data errors or reporting by financial institutions that may have been delayed. For example, subscribers may apply for (and beneficiaries may receive) incentives from prior years in which they were entitled that would appear in the CESP administrative database in the current year. Another example is that promoters may report transactions up to three years after they have taken place. Additionally, all figures reported are nominal and thus do not account for inflation.

Readers who require older data or wish to refer to available data should refer to the corresponding data sets on the Open Government Portal, or contact the CESP at 1-888-276-3624 or by email at cesp-pcee@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: