Manulife Investments poll finds many Canadian investors would spend ‘extra’ $1,000 to pay down mortgage or other debts

RRSPs rank fourth, holiday gifts place fifth among targets for spare cash

TORONTO, Dec. 18, 2002 – If $1,000 dropped in their lap, the top priority for the largest group of Canadian investors would be to pay down their mortgage or other debts, according to a recent national poll for Manulife Investments.

In a pre-Christmas survey by Market Facts of Canada, paying off debts, investing in their children’s education, taking a vacation, or contributing to an RRSP all ranked ahead of spending on holiday-season gifts.

The largest group, exactly one-third, said they would rather pay down the mortgage or other debts. About 11 per cent of Canadian investors polled in late November said they would take the extra money to buy holiday gifts.

“We know that dealing with debt is a high priority for Canadians, based on regular polls we conduct throughout the year,” said Bruce Gordon, Manulife Financial Executive Vice President and General Manager of Canadian Operations. “For the past four years, our surveys have shown that investing in their own home continues to be the most popular target for Canadians to invest.”

Among those surveyed in late November, the next highest priority was putting money aside for their children’s education, cited by 19 per cent of respondents as the top choice to spend $1,000.

A vacation was third on the list, named by 17 per cent of respondents, followed by investing in an RRSP, chosen by 13 per cent.

Despite traditional gift shopping every December, buying holiday gifts ranked fifth.

The responses were part of a larger poll for Manulife Investments that found more than four out of five Canadian RRSP holders expect to invest the same amount or more in their RRSP for the 2002 tax year. Of those surveyed, 58 per cent hope to match their RRSP contributions made last year, while 28 per cent plan to invest more than they claimed for the 2001 tax year. Eight per cent plan to contribute less.

Poll results released today are based on a Market Facts of Canada survey of 1,006 Canadians (18 years and older) between November 27 and December 1, 2002. The overall results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About Manulife Investments

Manulife Investments is the brand name identifying the personal wealth management lines of business offered by The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and its subsidiaries in Canada. As one of Canada’s leading integrated financial services providers, Manulife Investments offers a variety of products and services including segregated fund contracts, mutual funds, annuities and guaranteed interest contracts.

About Manulife Financial

Manulife Financial is a leading Canadian-based financial services group operating in 15 countries and territories worldwide. Through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners, Manulife Financial offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services. Funds under management by Manulife Financial were Cdn$139.2 billion as at September 30, 2002.

Manulife Financial Corporation trades as ‘MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under ‘0945’ on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at

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