Financial Literacy

Canadians would rather have a pension than a raise, HOOPP research reveals

By: Lisa Coxon on December 13, 2019

Eight out of 10 Canadians would rather have a better pension — or any pension at all — than a higher salary, says recent research commissioned by the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP).

Conducted by Abacus Data, the survey took the pulse of 2,500 Canadians to gauge “their feelings of retirement preparedness, their views on workplace pensions and the implications of decreasing pension coverage.”

The findings highlight a real anxiety among Canadians when it comes to retirement security, given 75% of Canadians are more worried about whether they’ll be able to save enough for retirement than they are about their personal debt (55%) or government debt (64%).

“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 release.

Retirement savings are top of mind for many Canadians. A CIBC poll from September found that 77% of Canadians are worried they don’t have enough saved for retirement. 

And last year, an RBC Insurance survey revealed that 62% are concerned they’ll outlive the savings they do have earmarked for retirement. 

Those are very real concerns, given the fact that pensioned jobs have been on the decline since 2014, and were, for many Boomers, the surest way to secure a comfortable retirement. 

According to the survey, 78% of Canadians believe “there is a moral obligation to ensure children today have pensions of the same coverage and quality their parents and grandparents had.”

There are experts who say that we’re being sold too much fear when it comes to retirement savings, and that government benefits like OAS and GIS will do an adequate job replacing the incomes of those earning below $30,000 a year. 

Earlier this year, retirement expert Malcolm Hamilton told that the government tends to be a good broadcaster of this fear that Canadians are undersaving for retirement, because if they oversave, then the government will have to pay less to support them.

However, 76% of survey respondents said they believe the government could actually save money by supporting pensions that are more affordable.

“These results present a clear call to action to enhance retirement affordability,” said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus, in a release.

“Canadians see the problem, understand its impacts, believe that an affordable retirement can be achieved, and want to collaborate with employers and government to find a solution. At the same time, they are prepared to do their own part by choosing better pensions over salary increases.”