Retirement dreams don’t match reality, poll suggests

By Doug Watt | February 27, 2003 | Last updated on February 27, 2003
3 min read

(February 27, 2003) Dreams of winter getaways and increased leisure time devoted to hobbies don’t match reality for today’s retired Canadians, a survey suggests. Although 62% of Canadians under the age of 50 selected winter holidays as their preferred retirement lifestyle, only 30% of those who are actually retired say they escape the worst months of winter.

More than half of non-retired Canadians said they expect to be able to spend a lot of time pursuing hobbies, the Decima Research survey found. But only 35% of current retirees said they pursue hobbies to any great extent.

“Contrary to the clichéd perception that retirement is endless days on the beach or in a rocking chair, the fact is that priorities shift as people move from one life stage to another,” says Investors Group vice president Debbie Ammeter. “What people want to do when they are in mid-career is very different from what they want to do when they retire.”

Similar to previous polls, the survey also found that many younger Canadians have not even begun to plan for their golden years. About half of those under 50 said they have not thought about retirement, the poll indicates. Not surprisingly, those who haven’t considered retirement are less likely to have accumulated savings or calculated how much they will need to retire.

“Most Canadians under 50 years old are too busy in their careers and raising children to seriously consider what they will do when they retire and the kids have moved on,” Ammeter says. That approach could be a mistake. “Retirement should not be some sort of scratch-and-win game at the end of our careers,” she says. “It’s something Canadians can look forward to if they plan and save throughout their careers.”

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  • An Ipsos-Reid poll conducted for RBC released today suggests that more than half of Canadians aged 18 to 34 do not plan to contribute to their retirement savings this year or don’t even have an RRSP.

    RBC vice-president Matt Varey says young Canadians who ignore RRSPs are missing a golden opportunity. “There is no overstating the great advantage of youth when it comes to building an RRSP,” he says. “The sooner you start, the greater benefit that compound growth will have on your portfolio.”

    A third poll, conducted by Ipsos-Reid for Scotiabank and released yesterday, suggests that Canadians may be more concerned about paying down debt than saving for retirement. Nearly 80% of those surveyed said paying down debt is their number-one financial goal, while 60% selected retirement saving as their top goal. The Scotiabank survey also found that only 38% of Canadians are confident in their ability to achieve their financial goals.

    “Canadians have a strong desire to reach their financial goals, but are concerned they won’t reach them,” says Scotia Securities vice-president Karen Fisher. “Clearly more Canadians need to take action and establish a written financial plans to set out their goals.”

    What are you doing to help your younger clients start thinking about retirement? What approaches work and what haven’t for you? Share your retirement-minded ideas in the “Free for All” forum of the Talvest Town Hall on

    Filed by Doug Watt,,


    Doug Watt