CLHIA: Ninety Percent of Canadians Support Pooled Registered Pension Plans

Over half say it would help them save more for retirement

TORONTO, Feb. 22 2011 – Working Canadians have overwhelmingly said they want a program that makes it easier for employers to offer a pension plan, according to a recent poll conducted by Research House on behalf of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA).

The poll showed that 90 per cent of Canadians said they support the federal government’s proposal for employers to have better access to pension plans through Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs), which would be administered by regulated financial institutions. PRPPs have been in the spotlight in recent months after Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced agreement with the provinces for governments to move ahead with plans for PRPPs as an aspect of enhancing the country’s pension system.

One of the main thrusts of PRPPs is to encourage more retirement savings and the poll reveals that it will work: Over half of working Canadians (55 per cent) said they would save more for retirement if a PRPP option was available – that jumps to 60 per cent of households with young children under the age of 17.

“The plan by finance ministers to enhance employer savings programs is massively popular among Canadians in every region of the country,” said Frank Swedlove, President, Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. “It is rare to see a public policy idea receive virtually unanimous approval with the public.”

A PRPP works by making it easier and cheaper for employers to offer a retirement savings program for employees. It eliminates administrative work and will be especially attractive to small and medium-sized employers. By relieving the employer of almost all administrative costs and compliance issues except for payroll deduction processing, more companies, employees and the self-employed can participate.

Support for PRPPs was highest among people working for a private company at 92 per cent. Albertans are the strongest supporters, with 94 per cent endorsing PRPPs. 91 per cent of Ontarians and Atlantic Canadians are PRPP backers. Support in Quebec was also strong at 86 per cent.

Canadians recognize the value of the CPP to the overall retirement savings system (with 59 per cent supporting some government role). But Canadians also want to have choice in their investment decisions and believe that the private sector provides that choice. Only 13 per cent of Canadians said they wanted to leave retirement savings completely with a public plan.

“Canada has one of the world’s best retirement savings programs according to the Melbourne-Mercer Global Pension Index. It works because it balances public sector and private sector roles, offers choice to Canadians, and manages costs. This is an opportune time to make the adjustments to improve it, so all Canadians are better served,” added Swedlove.

For those working at an employer’s business:

Younger employed Canadians still lag behind their older counterparts in saving for retirement: 54% of those aged 18-29 who are working for a private company said they are not currently saving at all for retirement while those aged 30-49 and 50-64 said 75 per cent and 78 per cent were saving respectively. Those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan were the highest savers at 87 per cent. Quebeckers and British Columbians came in the lowest at 63 and 66 per cent respectively.


The Canadian life and health insurance industry administers more than 70 per cent of pensions plans for Canada’s small and medium-sized businesses and the vast majority of group RRSPs. CLHIA members manage more than 45,000 employer pension, group RRSP, and other savings programs serving more than 4.9 million Canadians with more than $105 billion in assets.