Retirement anxiety high for Canadians: Four out of five would choose pension over salary hike, finds new HOOPP research

TORONTO, Oct. 08, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- New research released today by the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) shines a stark light on Canadians’ concerns about retirement security, and their expectations for a solution.

Findings from the public opinion research included:

  • More Canadians are worried about saving enough for retirement (75 per cent) than are worried about current personal debt (55 per cent) or government debt (64 per cent);
  • Eight out of 10 said they would rather have a better pension (or any pension) than a higher salary; and
  • Eighty-one per cent believe the shrinking of workplace pension coverage will reduce the quality of life of Canadians. 

The findings are based on a recent survey of 2,500 Canadians conducted by Abacus Data. It gauged their feelings of retirement preparedness, their views on workplace pensions and the implications of decreasing pension coverage.   To read the executive summary and additional materials, click here.

“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, HOOPP. “HOOPP’s research from last fall, about the five value drivers that make retirement more affordable, show there are options. Today’s survey results, combined with our research on the value drivers, can help drive a conversation and meaningful action toward more affordable retirement savings for more Canadians.”

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

Other key findings from the research include:

  • Seventy-eight per cent believe there is a moral obligation to ensure children today have pensions of the same coverage and quality their parents and grandparents had.
  • Eighty-three per cent believe government should modernize regulations to allow for more innovative pension plans and savings arrangements.
  • Eighty per cent would rather employers make direct contributions to a retirement plan over receiving that money as salary.
  • Seventy-six per cent believe governments can save money by supporting pensions that are more affordable.             

Keohane added: “HOOPP commissioned this research to help inform a public dialogue between individuals, employers and governments. When workers and retirees know they have financial security, it is good for their personal well-being and for the strength of the economy overall, so this is an important issue for our members.”

HOOPP released the report at an event today in Toronto, featuring a panel discussion on the findings and how we can help improve retirement security. In addition to HOOPP’s Keohane and Abacus’ Coletto, the panel featured notable employer and employee perspectives.

“All across the country, we hear from workers who a want better workplace pension for their retirement. Moreover, they’re ready and willing to pay their fair share for that peace of mind,” said Hassan Yussuff, President, Canadian Labour Congress. “We recognize that there are challenges for employers, which is all the more reason we are eager to collaborate to develop solutions for investing in workers’ futures.”

Susan Nickerson, Partner with Torys LLP’s Pensions and Employment Practice, said: “While employers that I speak with do have concerns about the complexity and cost of offering pension plans, they also know the value of having employees who are financially healthy. We need to develop more innovative options outside of conventional DB and DC plans, and we need to supplement these offerings with financial literacy programs that help ensure employees of all ages recognize the value of workplace pensions.”

About the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan

HOOPP is the pension plan serving Ontario’s hospital and community-based healthcare sector, with more than 570 participating employers. HOOPP’s membership includes nurses, medical technicians , food services staff, housekeeping staff, and many other people who provide valued healthcare services. In total, HOOPP has more than 350,000 active, deferred and retired members.

HOOPP operates as a private independent trust, and is governed by a Board of Trustees with a sole fiduciary duty to deliver the pension promise. The Board has representation from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and four unions: the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Ontario Public Service Employees' Union (OPSEU), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

About Abacus Data

Abacus Data is a market research and public opinion firm based in Ottawa. We conduct research for and provide strategic counsel to some of North America’s leading corporations and advocacy groups by delivering global research capacities with the attention to detail and focus of a boutique firm. Our team has over 45 years combined research and consulting experience working with associations, using public opinion research to inform internal strategies and raise issues on the public and government agenda.

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
James Geuzebroek
Senior Manager, Public Relations & Corporate Communications
416-350-4800 or

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