Whether you just opened your first brokerage account or have been investing for years, you must own at least one dividend-paying stock, because they far outperform non-dividend-paying stocks over the long term and because they are less volatile in times of uncertainty.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at three stocks with yields up to 4.5% and track records of increasing their annual rates, so you can determine which would fit best in your portfolio.

1. Canadian REIT

Canadian REIT (TSX:REF.UN) owns one of the largest portfolios of retail, industrial, and office properties in North America with interests in 198 properties that total approximately 33 million square feet. It currently pays a distribution of $0.15 per share monthly, or $1.80 per share annually, which gives its stock a 4.5% yield at today’s levels.

It is also very important to make two notes.

First, Canadian REIT has raised its annual distribution for 14 consecutive years, and its 2.9% increase in June 2015 puts it on pace for 2016 to mark the 15th consecutive year with an increase.

Second, I think the company’s increased amount of funds from operations, including 8.5% year-over-year growth to $165.4 million in the first nine months of fiscal 2015, and its industry-leading payout ratio could allow this streak to continue going forward.

2. Sun Life Financial Inc.

Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX:SLF)(NYSE:SLF) is the third-largest insurance company in Canada with more than $846 billion in assets under management. It currently pays a dividend of $0.39 per share quarterly, or $1.56 per share annually, which gives its stock a 4% yield at today’s levels.

Investors must also make two important notes.

First, Sun Life Financial raised its dividend twice in 2015, its first increases since 2008, and its most recent increase in November puts it on pace for 2016 to mark the second consecutive year in which it has raised its annual dividend payment.

Second, the company has a medium-term target dividend-payout range of 40-50% of its net earnings, so its consistent growth, including 13.9% year-over-year growth to $1.66 billion in the first nine months of fiscal 2015, sets it up nicely for another increase in 2016.

3. Suncor Energy Inc.

Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU)(NYSE:SU) is the largest integrated oil and gas company in Canada. It currently pays a dividend of $0.29 per share quarterly, or $1.16 per share annually, which gives its stock a 3.7% yield at today’s levels.

It is also very important for investors to make two notes.

First, Suncor Energy has raised its annual dividend payment for 13 consecutive years, and its 3.6% increase in July 2015 puts it on pace for 2016 to mark the 14th consecutive year with an increase.

Second, I think the company’s ample cash flow from operations, including $5.51 billion in the first nine months of fiscal 2015, could allow for another increase in the near future.

Which of these dividend stocks should you buy?

Canadian REIT, Sun Life Financial, and Suncor Energy are three of the most attractive dividend-paying investment options in their respective industries. Foolish investors should take a closer look at each and strongly consider buying shares of at least one of them today.

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Fool contributor Joseph Solitro has no position in any stocks mentioned.