Four out of five Canadians polled say they would choose a better pension — or any pension, for that matter — over a higher salary.
A survey by the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) also found 75 per cent worry about saving enough for retirement, 55 per cent worry about personal debt, and 64 per cent worry about government debt.
“It is clear that Canadians have a high level of anxiety around retirement security and that we, as a country, need to talk about how to address this growing concern,” said Jim Keohane, president & CEO of HOOPP, in a news release.
Most respondents (83 per cent) said governments should modernize regulations to allow for more innovative pension plans and savings arrangements. This is particularly relevant considering 56 per cent said they don’t have a workplace pension plan.
Five alarm fire
Anthony Quinn, community officer with CARP (Canadian Association for Retired Persons), says the results should serve as a call to action to all levels of governments.
“CARP members were vocal in their support for enhancements to the CPP, knowing that it would not benefit themselves, but would help support future retirees, 30 or 40 years down the line,” Quinn told Yahoo Finance Canada.
“And because saving is so difficult (for all generations), it's not a surprise that the vast majority of today's workers would prefer to have access to a company pension plan than an increase in their salary.”
Quinn says workplace pensions provide income in retirement, while taking stress off government programs. But he is concerned about some of Canada’s political parties’ approach.
“CARP members are also concerned about protecting that minority of workers who do have a pension plan and ensuring that their deferred wages are protected (in cases like Sears and Nortel), and we, along with many other groups, have been advocating to government to put those workers and their pensions at the front of the line of creditors when it comes to corporate bankruptcy; something that the Green Party and the NDP have promised to do if elected on October 21,” he said.
“Both federal Conservative and Liberal governments have so far failed to take action to protect pensioners while in majority leadership.”
The fallout of too much debt
Laurie Campbell, CEO of Credit Canada, says too much debt and not enough savings is a recipe for an impoverished retirement or having to work far into your golden years.
“It is evident that expecting Canadians to save on their own without a work-defined pension plan is failing,” Campbell told Yahoo Finance Canada.
“Couple that with high personal and government debt, it is no wonder Canadians are feeling particularly vulnerable and anxious. More needs to be done to ensure Canadians have the mechanisms and tools to save for their own retirement.”
Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.