06/16/2015 09:31 EDT | Updated 06/16/2016 05:59 EDT

Retirement Pensions Under Pressure As Canadians Live Longer

TORONTO - Low interest rates and expectations that Canadians will live longer hurt some of the country's largest pension funds last year despite strong investment performance, a report by Russell Investments Canada says.

The report, which looked at 25 of Canada's largest corporate defined benefit pension plans, said the combined amount they needed to hold to pay promised pensions increased by $25 billion — to $179 billion.

Roughly two-thirds of the increase was due to a drop in interest rates used to calculate liabilities, while new forecasts that expect Canadians to live longer accounted for most of the remaining increase.

On the other side of the equation, assets held by the plans increased to $163 billion in 2014 from $149 billion, leaving a shortfall of $16 billion, up from a $5-billion shortfall in 2013.

In aggregate, the funded status of the 25 big pension plans slipped to 91 per cent in 2014 from 97 per cent in 2013.

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