Quebecers faring better than national average on most economic indicators, but financial stability still unattainable for many

Quebec employees' retirement goals challenged by debt and economy, payroll survey finds

MONTREAL, Sept. 7, 2016 /CNW/- For many working Quebecers, the road to a comfortable retirement is becoming longer and more difficult. A large contingent is living pay cheque to pay cheque, unable to save, and worried about the economy, according to the eighth annual Research Survey of Employed Canadians, released today by the Canadian Payroll Association ahead of National Payroll Week. The survey reveals that only 36% of working Canadians and 30% of those in Quebec expect the economy in their city or town to improve in the coming year

Many Quebecers still living pay cheque to pay cheque

Many working Quebecers are cash strapped and barely making ends meet. In Quebec, 38% live pay cheque to pay cheque (the lowest in Canada) and nearly one-quarter (23%) would find it tough to come up with $2,000 for an emergency. Nationally, almost half (48%) report it would be difficult to meet their financial obligations if their pay cheque was delayed by even a single week. Nearly one-quarter nationally (24%) say they probably could not come up with $2,000 if an emergency arose within the next month. Interestingly, Quebec employees fare better than most Canadians in retirement saving, prudent spending and debt management.

"A significant percentage of working Canadians carry debt, have a gloomy view of their local economy and are fearful of rising interest rates, inflation, and costs of living," says Patrick Culhane, the Canadian Payroll Association's President and CEO. "In this time of uncertainty, people need to take control of their finances by saving more. 'Paying Yourself First' (by automatically directing at least 10% of net pay into a separate savings account or retirement plan) enables employees to exercise some control over their financial future."

Incomes flat, saving capacity drained by spending and debt

"Survey data suggests that national household income growth has stalled, as respondents reporting household income above $100K has hardly increased in five years," says Alec Milne, Principal at research provider Framework Partners. "In fact, real incomes have actually declined on a national basis when inflation is taken into account."

While pay has remained largely unchanged, employees' spending and debt levels have affected their ability to save. According to the survey, 34% of employees in Quebec (and 40% nationally) spend all or more than their net pay. Nearly half (42% in Quebec and 47% nationally) are able to save just 5% or less of their earnings.

Despite Quebec employees' challenging financial situations, only 20% cite higher wages as a top priority (the lowest in Canada), and more than half (58%) prioritize a better work-life balance and a healthy work environment (the highest in Canada).

Nationally, 28% of respondents cite higher wages as a top priority. This is down from the average of 34% over the past three years. Instead, 48% nationally are most interested in better work-life balance and a healthy work environment.

"Clearly, many Canadians are concerned about their financial situation," says Lucy Zambon, the Canadian Payroll Association's Board Chair. "But better work-life balance does not have to mean reduced financial security if you spend within your means and 'Pay Yourself First' as a step towards financial well-being."

Many Quebecers feel overwhelmed by debt, but debt worry is lowest in Canada

Over one-third (39%) of working Canadians feel overwhelmed by their level of debt, an increase from the three year average of 36%. Debt levels have risen over the past year for 31% of respondents nationally. In Quebec, 22% feel overwhelmed by debt and 19% say their debt level has increased this year (the best results in all of Canada). While fewer Quebecers feel overwhelmed by debt than the national average, the percentage of those in Quebec feeling overwhelmed by debt has risen 3% over the past year. Unfortunately, 11% nationally and 8% in Quebec do not think they will ever be debt-free. 

Similar to prior years, 93% of respondents in Quebec and nationally, carry debt. Over half of respondents nationally (58%) said that debt and the economy are the biggest impediments to saving for retirement.

Retirement savings fall short, more savings needed to retire

Half of Canadians and 37% of Quebec respondents think they will need a retirement nest-egg of at least $1 million. While drastically fewer Quebecers than other respondents across Canada believe they will need to save $1 million dollars or more for retirement, the number has still increased year over year. Nationally, 75% (and 80% in Quebec) project that they will not be able to retire until at least age 60.

Unable to save adequately, the vast majority of working Quebecers have fallen far behind their retirement goals, with 73% (versus 76% nationally) saying they have saved only one-quarter or less of what they feel they will need.

Nearly one-half of employees nationally (45%) now expect they'll have to work longer than they had originally planned five years ago, primarily because they have not saved enough. Nationally, respondents' average target retirement has risen to 62, whereas these same respondents' target retirement age five years ago was 60.

How payroll can help

"Payroll professionals can arrange to automatically deduct a portion of an employee's net pay each pay period and direct it into a separate savings or retirement account, making it easier to save," Zambon explains.

To learn more about automatic savings – and how you can Pay Yourself First – talk to your payroll professional.

The Canadian Payroll Association's Research Survey of Employed Canadians is conducted to mark National Payroll Week (September 12-16, 2016). For more information about National Payroll Week, and the mission-critical role of payroll professionals, visit

Regional and national survey findings are available. Go to → Media Room for news releases and infographics.

Canadian Payroll Association spokespersons are available across Canada for interviews.

Canadian Payroll Association Research Survey of Employed Canadians

A total of 5,629 employees from across Canada, and from a wide range of industry sectors, responded to an online research survey between Monday, June 27th, 2016 and Friday, August 5th, 2016, using a convenience sampling methodology. The survey was developed by the Canadian Payroll Association and conducted by Framework Partners. The survey is consistent with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3% 19 times out of 20, but as a non-probabilistic methodology was used, a definitive margin of error cannot be expressed. 

Payroll Professionals - Keeping Canada Paid™

Canada's 1.5 million employers rely on payroll practitioners to ensure the timely and accurate annual payment of $901 billion in wages, $305 billion in statutory remittances to the federal and provincial governments, and $163 billion in health and retirement benefits, while complying with more than 200 federal and provincial regulatory requirements. Since 1978, the Canadian Payroll Association has annually influenced the payroll compliance practices and processes of over five hundred thousand organizational payrolls. As the authoritative source of Canadian payroll knowledge, the Canadian Payroll Association promotes payroll compliance through education and advocacy.

SOURCE Canadian Payroll Association

Image with caption: "The Canadian Payroll Association’s (CPA’s) eighth annual National Payroll Week (NPW) Research Survey shows that Canadian employees continue to live pay cheque to pay cheque, are struggling to save for retirement, feel overwhelmed by debt and are increasingly worried about their local economy. For more survey results, visit the NPW website at or the CPA’s website at (CNW Group/Canadian Payroll Association)". Image available at:

For further information: Robert Stephens,, 416.777.0368; Leslie Challis,, 416.767.0167; Alison Rutka,, 416.487.3380 x 125


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