Golden Years Postponed

CPA survey finds many Canadians now faced with the prospect of working longer before retirement

Proportionally more workers in Atlantic provinces living pay cheque to pay cheque and failing to save

HALIFAX, Sept. 8, 2011 /CNW/ - For many people, the 'golden years' are now a more distant dream. They are struggling to save for retirement and to make ends meet.

According to the third annual survey of employees conducted by the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA), 40% of Canadians said they'll likely have to retire later than they previously planned.

In Atlantic Canada, one-third of workers (33%) expect they'll have to postpone their retirement.

Living pay cheque to pay cheque

A major contributing factor to the low savings rate is that many Canadians are living close to the line. The CPA survey found that the majority of Canadian workers continue to live pay cheque to pay cheque, with 57% saying they would be in financial difficulty if their pay was delayed by even a week.

The region with the highest percentage of workers living pay cheque to pay cheque was Atlantic Canada (64%), followed by Ontario (60%), the Prairies (56%) and the West Coast (53%).

Financial planners generally recommend that people have approximately three months of expenses (rent, mortgage, bills, groceries, etc.) as an emergency fund.

Failing to save for retirement

Almost three-quarters of Canadian employees (74%) said they have saved less than a quarter of their retirement savings goal. It's even bleaker in the Atlantic provinces where the number is 81%.

"This is particularly troubling when you realize that even the older age groups are not saving for their retirement," states Dianne Winsor, CPM, Chairman of the CPA. "For example, more than 40% of Canadian employees aged 55 to 65 are still less than a quarter of the way to their retirement savings goal."

Another significant finding - 50% of employees across the country reported that they are currently saving only 5% or less of their net pay. Again, Atlantic Canada posted the most concerning regional level, with 57% of its workers saving at this low rate.

This is well below the 10% of net pay that financial planning experts generally recommend as a retirement savings rate.

Winsor noted that payroll professionals can often help employees administer a savings plan. This may include the employee directing a portion of their net pay to a separate savings account and/or into a Registered Retirement Savings Program. "Develop a savings plan, and then talk to your payroll professional about how you can administer it effectively through payroll," Winsor urged.

How much do employees feel they'll need to live comfortably in retirement?

Almost two-thirds of Canadian workers (63%) felt that they would need more than $750,000.

What could they do to improve their financial situation?

Most Canadians do understand what they could be doing to improve their financial situation and meet their retirement goals. Ranked in order of importance, respondents thought they should be spending less (32%), paying off credit card debt (22%), reducing their mortgage (19%) and contributing more to their retirement savings (14%).

Survey Reponses:

2,070 employees responded to this online survey open between July 6, 2011 and August 2, 2011 using a convenience sampling methodology. Respondents to the survey were recruited by members of the CPA with whom they work to get responses from employed Canadians. This Canadian Payroll Association developed survey was conducted by Framework Partners, a market research and strategic planning firm. The survey is consistent with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2% 19 times out 20, but as a non-probabilistic methodology was used a definitive margin of error cannot be expressed. 

About the CPA:

Payroll professionals in 1.5 million organizations across Canada are responsible for ensuring the timely and accurate payment of $810 billion in wages and taxable benefits, $250 billion in statutory remittances to the federal and provincial governments, and $90 billion in health and retirement premiums, while complying with more than 191 regulatory requirements. The Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) has influenced the payroll compliance practices and processes of hundreds of thousands of employers since 1978. As the authoritative source of Canadian payroll knowledge, the CPA affects the legislative processes and practices of payroll service and software providers, as well as hundreds of thousands of small, medium and large employers.

National Payroll Week (September 12-16) recognizes the accomplishments of payroll professionals and the CPA by building greater awareness of the size and scope of payroll and its impact on employers, employees and government across Canada.

SOURCE Canadian Payroll Association

For further information:

Visit, under Media Room, News Releases, for further information, including a summary of the findings from the 2011 CPA NPW Employee Survey. To book an interview, contact:

Wendy McLean-Cobban, CMP, ABC       Robert Stephens
Manager, Communications         PR POST
The Canadian Payroll Association       416-777-0368
416-487-3380 / 1-800-387-4693 ext. 111


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