One in Four Canadian Retirees (25%) Aren’t Paying Off their Monthly Debts

Credit Cards Top the List of Where Retirees Still Owe

The author(s)

  • Sean Simpson Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, Ontario, Feb 21, 2018 — While most Canadians hope to get their finances in order by the time they retire, the reality isn’t always so simple. A new Ipsos survey for Sun Life Financial finds that one in four retired Canadians (25%) aren’t paying off their non-mortgage debt every month. Seven in ten retirees (72%) are clearing their monthly debts, while 4% aren’t sure.

Retirees struggling to pay off their monthly debts say they owe money on a variety of things, with credit cards topping the list. Two in three (66%) retirees who don’t pay off their non-mortgage debt every month say they have miscellaneous credit card debt. One in four (26%) are making car payments, while two in ten (19%) are still paying off their mortgage. Some retirees are also in the red over health expenses (7%), home renovations (6%), holiday expenses (5%) or vacation properties (2%).

As retired Canadians face ongoing debts, some of those who are still working are turning to their retirement savings ahead of time to help them out of a financial bind. One in four (24%) employed Canadians say they’ve withdrawn money from their retirement savings at some point, while three in four (76%) say they haven’t.

A majority of those who have dipped into their retirement savings before they actually retire say they did so out of need. Six in ten (63%) say they did so because they needed help with medical expenses, debt repayment or another situation. Others needed money to help buy their first home: one in four (24%) say they withdrew money from their retirement savings as part of the First Time Home Buyer’s Plan. About one in ten (13%) turned to their retirement savings because they wanted to fund something like a vacation or car purchase.


About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between October 13 and 19, 2017, on behalf of Sun Life Financial. For this survey, two samples from Ipsos’ online panel were interviewed online: a sample of 2,150 Canadians aged 20-64 who either work full-time or part-time, own their own business/are self-employed, are on parental leave but plan to return to work, or are between jobs but actively looking for work; and a sample of 750 Canadians aged 55-80 who are either fully or partially retired. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that each sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled, with credibility intervals of ±2.4 percentage points for the employed sample, and ±4.1 percentage points for the retirees sample. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.


For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson
Vice President, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2002
[email protected]


About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of Canadian American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. In Canada, Ipsos Public Affairs is the polling partner for Global News. Internationally, Ipsos Public Affairs is the media polling supplier to Reuters News, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.


About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.

With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,782.7 million in 2016.


The author(s)

  • Sean Simpson Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs