The vast majority of Canadians are worried about saving enough for retirement and believe governments should modernize rules around pensions, according to a new poll from a major Ontario pension plan, as pocketbook issues have been in focus during the federal election campaign.   

The findings from the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP), based on a recent survey of 2,500 Canadians conducted by Abacus Data, revealed eight in 10 respondents would rather have a pension than a higher salary.  

The majority (83 per cent) of those surveyed also believe governments should update regulations around pension and savings plans. Less than half of Canadians (44 per cent) currently have access to a workplace pension plan, according to HOOPP; and nearly half (49 per cent) of respondents who don’t have a workplace pension plan say they’ve saved nothing for retirement.

“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 HOOPP president and CEO Jim Keohane in a release Tuesday.

“In retirement funding, the elephant in the room is interest rates are so low that you can’t get [a great] return on investment,” Bill Harris, partner and portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management, told BNN Bloomberg Wednesday. “You’re going to get nothing out of your bond savings.”

Seventy-five per cent of respondents to the poll expressed some level of concern about retirement savings, outpacing concern surrounding other hot button issues like taxes and personal debt.

Federal leaders have aimed to address concerns about retirement in the election campaign, with the Liberals promising to boost Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan survivor's benefit if re-elected, and the Conservatives pledging to increase the Age Credit as examples. 

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