TORONTO — Canadians are struggling to save for retirement, with many planning to push back the next phase of their life amid inflation and higher interest rates, according to a new survey from the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan.
“With a prolonged period of rising inflation and interest rates, Canadians of all ages are finding it much harder to save for retirement, and specifically the older age group that really should be looking forward to retirement,” said Ivana Zanardo, head of plan services at HOOPP.
Inflation has been slowly cooling in recent months, but at 4.4 per cent in April year over year it’s still more than double the central bank’s target rate of two per cent. The Bank of Canada last week raised its overnight rate to 4.75 per cent after several straight months of holding it steady, citing the risk of sticky inflation.
The survey from HOOPP and Abacus Data released Thursday found that 44 per cent of non-retired Canadians aged 55 to 64 have less than $5,000 in savings, with one in five from that group saying they have not set anything aside for retirement.
“The picture is bleak for those older Canadians,” said Zanardo.
More than half of those surveyed aged 55 to 64 said if inflation keeps rising, they will have to push back their intended retirement date.
“What really stood out for us this year and what was concerning is the older age group, and the fact that they’re just not as prepared for retirement as one would hope they would be,” said Zanardo.
“At a period in their life when they should be getting excited about retirement, because of inflation and raising interest rates they’re now considering whether they can retire when they had planned on and whether they should be pushing that day out.”
Abacus Data CEO David Coletto said in the press release that in the five years of conducting this survey, around 70 per cent of respondents have consistently agreed that Canada is heading for a retirement crisis.
“These findings for older Canadians suggest a crisis might be looming ever closer if current economic trends continue,” Coletto said.
Having enough money for retirement is one of the major concerns survey respondents outlined. Among everyone surveyed, 44 per cent said they haven’t set any money aside for retirement in the past year, an increase of six per cent year over year.
Young adults aged 18 to 34 are also struggling to plan for the future, with half saying they’re living beyond their means, and most saying they’re worried about the impact of higher interest rates on their retirement savings and ability to pay down debt.
“We’ve always said that saving early and saving often is the best way to prepare for retirement,” said Zanardo, but that’s easier said than done when the cost of living is on the rise.
“This group is concerned with their income keeping up with inflation, being able to afford housing, and most importantly, their ability to save for retirement,” she said.
Despite rising costs, almost 70 per cent of people surveyed said they would take lower pay in exchange for a better pension. Meanwhile, 78 per cent said they believe all employers should be required to contribute in some way towards pensions for workers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2023.
Rosa Saba, The Canadian Press