Only about one-third of working Canadians aged 50 and older who intend to retire say they can afford to do so, according to a new report by the National Institute on Ageing (NIA)

The NIA’s research, published in a Wednesday report, found that 35 per cent of older Canadians who are currently working believe they will be able to retire at their desired time, while 39 per cent reported that they are not in the financial position to do so.

One in four surveyed Canadians over 50 reported feeling unsure as to whether they can afford to retire when they are hoping to, according to the report. 

Keith Neuman, one of the study authors and the executive director of the Environics Institute, said the findings are tied to financial uncertainties around workplace pensions, changing income sources and other broad challenges.

“Of course, saving for retirement and being prepared for that is a bit of an unknown and a bit of a challenge because … the availability of workplace pensions and other sources of income have changed over the past few decades,” Neuman told BNN Bloomberg in a phone interview.

He added that while his survey only looked at people aged 50 and older, the financial struggles discussed are not necessarily specific to older demographics.

Retirement preferences

Neuman noted that retirement is not on every Canadian’s agenda.

“There’s a certain proportion of older Canadians who don’t plan to retire, who don’t want to retire. Not everybody does,” he said.

“We did ask people who had retired how they’re enjoying it and they tend to think it’s going better than they thought it might. So there is some positive news there.”

Neuman also pointed out that NIA’s survey sample included Canadians who are 80 and older, finding a small percentage of people in that demographic are still working and want to retire.

“Among them, only about half feel that they could do so,” he told BNN Bloomberg. 

Financial wellbeing

Retirement readiness aside, Natalie Iciaszczyk, another study author and the research program manager at the National Institute on Ageing, said overall, older Canadians are “doing pretty well in terms of their financial wellbeing.” 

According to the report, the majority of surveyed Canadians say their household income is “enough” for them.

“Only about 33 per cent of them say it’s enough that they could save. The other 39 per cent say it’s just enough that they get by,” Iciaszczyk told BNN Bloomberg. 

“This signals the first red flag when thinking about our older population in that only so few of them are able to save,” she said. “What does that mean for when they reach older ages and are no longer working?”

Research part of 10-year project

The NIA report is part of a 10-year-project, Iciaszczyk explained, with this latest survey only the second in the series. 

“Hopefully in the next three to four to five years we’ll be able to tell if these numbers and proportions are staying consistent, (whether) they are increasing as a greater share of our population does enter 65 and older.”

Wednesday’s report showed that retirement readiness levels have remained virtually unchanged since 2022, when the proportion of Canadians 50 and older who said they could afford to retire when they hope to was also 35 per cent. 

“As people get older, in many ways, their outlook is looking better, but this retirement readiness issue persists, to some extent, even across older age groups,” Neuman said.


The 2023 NIA Ageing in Canada Survey was conducted online between June 27 and August 7, 2023, with a representative sample of 5,875 Canadians aged 50 years and older living in the country’s 10 provinces. The survey, comprised of 83 questions, was administered using standard survey industry recruitment and confidentiality protocols. The sample was stratified by age, region, gender and education level, to ensure good representation across these strata. The final data were weighted by the population (per the 2021 Census).