10/27/2014 04:32 EDT | Updated 10/27/2014 04:59 EDT

Retirement In Canada Proving More Elusive: 1 In 5 Say They Will Work Till They Die

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Nearly one in five Canadians say they will never retire, according to a new survey that finds a majority of Canadians concerned about their retirement prospects.

The survey from the Conference Board of Canada found a large number of people on the brink of retirement who say they don’t have enough to stop working. Nearly 60 per cent of respondents aged 55 to 64, and about 40 per cent of those above age 65, said they had not saved enough.

The findings “are disturbing and suggest that much more needs to be done to ensure Canadians are ‘retirement ready’,” Judith McBride-King, lead researcher on the study, said in a statement.

But she noted that there is some good news in the report, namely signs that younger Canadians “are beginning to consider their future post-paid work.” A third of younger Canadians say retirement planning is a priority for them, and nearly a quarter say they have a plan.

The average age at which Canadians say they will retire is 63.2 years, the survey found, but 19 per cent of respondents said they would never retire. Women expressed less certainty than men about when they would be able to quit the workforce.

And retirement may not even be retirement. Nearly half — 45.6 per cent — said they would continue to work, either part-time or on a contract basis, after retirement.

The closer a survey respondent was to retirement, they likelier they were to plan to keep working. Fifty-one per cent of those aged 45 to 64 said they would work after retirement, and of those already in their retirement years, 60 per cent said they would continue working.

The financial crisis of recent years, stagnant wages and longer life spans have come together to make retirement more elusive for Canadians than it used to be.

StatsCan reported in 2012 that Canadians are retiring two years later than they were just a decade earlier. A 50-year-old worker in 2009 could expect to retire at age 64.3; in 1998, that worker would have expected to retire by 62.

Longer life expectancies threaten to put government programs for the elderly under financial pressure. The federal government moved to address this in 2012 by raising the eligiblity age for Old Age Security to 67, from 65. That change comes into effect starting in 2023.

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