Canadian pensions fared well in 2017 thanks to strength of stock markets: Mercer

The Mercer consulting group says defined-benefit pension plans in Canada generally ended 2017 in better financial condition than they've experienced for most of the past decade.

The firm says many of the Canadian defined benefit pension plans that it tracks were fully funded, or very close to fully funded, at the end of the year.

It says defined-benefit plans were helped by surging stock markets, particularly in the fourth quarter.

However, a decline in long-term interest rates offset some of the gains in equities.

According to Mercer estimates, a typical balanced pension portfolio with a combination of equity and fixed-income investments would have returned 5.3 per cent during the fourth quarter of 2017.

Mercer says the median solvency ratio for its 604 pension clients in Canada was 97 per cent, meaning half of the pension plans had enough assets to cover at least 97 per cent of their obligations.