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The best Canadian ETFs in 2021

See which Canadian ETFs are the highest performing by revenue.

The ETFs on this page are all Canadian, and we ranked them based solely on their returns. Given the volatility of the stock market, some of the ETFs listed here may have shifted since we last updated this page.

Best performing Canadian ETFs so far this year

As of May 2021, the top performing Canadian ETFs so far this year are:

SymbolETF nameYTD returnsAnnual dividend yield
ZCANSPDR Solactive Canada ETF12.24%3.99%
BBCAJPMorgan BetaBuilders Canada ETF10.03%2.16%
EWCiShares MSCI Canada ETF9.99%1.89%
FLCAFranklin FTSE Canada ETF9.96%2.27%
HEWCiShares Currency Hedged MSCI Canada ETF9.06%4.83%
IPFFiShares International Preferred Stock ETF6.04%3.69%
FXCInvesco CurrencyShares® Canadian Dollar Trust0.58%0.00%
SGDMSprott Gold Miners ETF-14.11%0.34%

Source: ETF Database

Best performing Canadian ETFs over 1 year

As of May 2021, the top performing Canadian ETFs over the last year are:

SymbolETF name1-year returnsAnnual dividend yield
ZCANSPDR Solactive Canada ETF73.36%3.99%
IPFFiShares International Preferred Stock ETF65.43%3.69%
BBCAJPMorgan BetaBuilders Canada ETF59.38%2.16%
EWCiShares MSCI Canada ETF59.35%1.89%
FLCAFranklin FTSE Canada ETF58.47%2.27%
HEWCiShares Currency Hedged MSCI Canada ETF44.50%4.83%
SGDMSprott Gold Miners ETF35.29%0.34%
FXCInvesco CurrencyShares® Canadian Dollar Trust11.53%0.00%

Source: ETF Database

Best performing Canadian ETFs over 5 years

As of May 2021, the top performing Canadian ETFs over the last 5 years are:

SymbolETF name5-year returnsAnnual dividend yield
ZCANSPDR Solactive Canada ETF59.88%3.99%
EWCiShares MSCI Canada ETF59.35%1.89%
HEWCiShares Currency Hedged MSCI Canada ETF57.81%4.83%
SGDMSprott Gold Miners ETF44.27%0.34%
IPFFiShares International Preferred Stock ETF24.15%3.69%
FXCInvesco CurrencyShares® Canadian Dollar Trust3.55%0.00%

Source: ETF Database

Compare trading platforms to invest in ETFs

Name Product Available asset types Stock Fee Option Fee Account Fee ETF Transaction Cost Feature Table description
Wealthsimple Trade
Stocks, ETFs
$0
N/A
$0
Free
Deposit and trade $100 and get a $50 bonus.
Pay no commissions when you trade Canadian stocks and ETFs with Wealthsimple Trade.
CIBC Investor's Edge
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs
$4.95 - $6.95
$4.95 - $6.95 (+$1.25 per contract)
$0 if conditions met, otherwise $100/year
$6.95
$4.95 - $6.95 is applicable for online stock, ETF and option trades only. Pay $4.95 when you qualify as an Active Trader (trade 150+ times per quarter).
An intuitive and easy-to-use platform with access to a variety of tools that help you make smart decisions and trade with confidence.
Interactive Brokers
Stocks, Bonds, Options, ETFs, Currencies, Futures
Min. $1.00, Max. 0.5% of trade value
$1.50 min. per order
$0 (if monthly commissions are greater than or equal to US$10.00)
Min. $1.00, Max. 0.5% of trade value
Extensive trading capabilities and global investment tracking.
Access market data 24 hours a day, six days a week and invest in global stocks, options, futures, currencies, bonds and funds from one single account.
Questrade
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities, Precious Metals
$4.95-$9.95
$9.95 + $1 per contract
$0
Free
Get $50 in free trades when you fund your account with a minimum of $1,000.
Opt for self-directed investing and save on fees or get a pre-built portfolio and take some of the guesswork out.
Qtrade Investor
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs
$6.95 - $8.75
$6.95 - $8.75 + $1.25 per contract
$0 if conditions met, otherwise $25/quarter
$0 - $8.75
Trade 100 select ETFs free of charge.
Qtrade Investor offers low trading commissions and an easy-to-use platform with access to powerful tools and a wide selection of investment options. Trade 100 ETFs free of charge and thousands more for $8.75 or lower.
Scotia iTRADE
Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities
$4.99-$9.99
$9.99 + $1.25 contract ($4.99 + $1.25 contract if completed 150 trades or more a quarter)
$0
$9.99 ($4.99 if completed 150 trades or more a quarter)
Pay no annual account fees.
Buy, sell and trade ETFs, Equities, Options and more with competitive commissions.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Picking the best ETFs for your situation

With thousands of ETFs to choose from, finding the best ones that fit your portfolio and investing strategy can help protect you from loss. Some points to consider when deciding which ETFs are best for you.

  • Timeframe. Decide your investment timeframe and under what circumstances you’d consider selling.
  • Have a strategy. Think about if you can afford to take on a riskier short-term investment or if you prefer to be more conservative. If you prefer lower risk, you could also consider index funds.
  • Understand the product. Do your research of the listed fund. Download its prospectus and read through the details.
  • Check the returns. Look at the returns, including all fees over different periods of time. How has it performed over a one-year period? How has it performed over several years?
  • Understand the fees. Fees strongly influence your return on investment. Make sure the returns outshine the ETF’s management fees and pick a broker with fees that match your trading habits.
  • Talk to a financial adviser. If you’re not clear about an investment, how it works or its returns, contact a licensed professional to help you learn more.

A beginner’s guide to exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

Understanding an ETF’s fees

There’s a direct correlation between high fees and an ETF’s overall performance. When fees are higher, returns tend to be lower and vice versa. There are two main costs involved when investing in listed funds: brokerage and management fees.

  • Brokerage fees. Like with stocks, your broker may charge a transaction fee every time you invest money into an ETF. This fee comes down to which trading platform or brokerage you use.
  • Management fee. This is often displayed as the management expense ratio (MER), which is the percentage of your return charged as fees by the ETF’s fund managers. Normally, the more work a fund manager has to do to keep the ETF profitable, the higher the fee – though this won’t always be the case. This is why many active ETFs charge higher fees than index ETFs, which passively track an index.

To find a platform that offers the lowest fees, you’ll first need to decide how much you want to invest in the fund and how many lump sums you’ll be investing over a year. If it’s just one lump sum, a platform that doesn’t charge an inactivity fee will be key. If you plan on frequently adding small amounts, the brokerage fee itself will be more important.

Brokerage fees range from around $0 to $5 per transaction and ETF management fees range from about 0.05% to 2.5%.

How to invest in an ETF

Once you’ve considered the risks of investing in ETFs and worked out your financial goals, you can buy and sell units in an ETF like any stock on the stock market through a fund manager or an online trading platform.

To invest in ETFs through an online trading platform, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Search for a trading platform that suits your investment needs.
  2. Sign up by providing personal details, proof of citizenship and proof of ID.
  3. Log in to your trading account.
  4. Move money into your trading account through a bank transfer.
  5. Search for the ETF on your platform and place an order.

Bottom line

Business cycles, demographic trends and bull or bear markets can often last for years, so ETFs with strong momentum sometimes continue to perform strongly — and vice versa.

Comparing recent performance of ETFs can help inform your investment planning and provide you with ideas for where to invest your money. From there, continue to research your investment choices and be as thorough with the trading platforms and services you consider.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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