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The number of Canadians expecting to be retired at age 66 has declined by almost 50% in five years, finds Sun Life Financial’s annual Canadian Unretirement Index.

“The dream of being able to afford a full retirement at age 66 is declining among Canadians, it’s being replaced by the reality that many people expect to be working beyond the traditional retirement age,” said Kevin Dougherty, president, Sun Life Financial Canada. “The aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008 has had a lasting impact with more Canadians expecting they will need to work longer as a result.”

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For the first time in five years of tracking retirement trends, the index finds that the number of participants who expect to be retired at 66 (27%) is almost equal to Canadians who expect to be working full time at 66 (26%). Almost another third (32%) expect to be working part time at 66 adding up to almost 60% of Canadians who expect to work past the traditional retirement age while about 15% are not certain.

The survey also reveals that Canadians have a gap in their thinking about retirement savings. They anticipate requiring an average income of $46,000 per year for their retirement yet they are only aiming to have $385,687 in retirement savings (excluding their home and other property).

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At the same time, only a quarter of Canadians (23%) say saving for retirement is their number one priority while paying down debt or credit cards is the top priority for nearly half of those polled.

The priority placed on saving for retirement varies with age. It is the number one financial priority for 37% of early boomers in the age group of 57 to 65. The number drops to 12% of people in Generation X – 30 to 46 years – who say it’s their top financial priority.

In terms of their investments, interest rates are on the minds of Canadians. Twice as many Canadians (25%) want the interest rate to go up in 2013, while 13% want to see it decline.

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Originally published on Advisor.ca