The proportion of Canadians who are participating or receiving benefits from a private pension plan offered through an employer has declined, finds a survey conducted on behalf of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions(OSFI).

Just 24% say they are currently a member or a beneficiary of an employer-sponsored pension plan today, compared to 34% in 2005. Three-quarters say they are not, compared to 65% two years ago and 1% don’t know.

Although there has been a decline in the number of Canadians covered by employer-sponsored plans, the types of benefits provided by these plans has not changed meaningfully since 2005.

Of those participating in a plan, 58% say they will receive a fixed amount of income upon retirement—up from 56% in 2005—while 31% say the benefits will vary according to the performance of the fund’s investments, up from 30% two years ago. Eleven percent didn’t know or couldn’t provide an answer, which was down from 14% in 2005.

Confidence in whether or not their pension plans could pay the benefits they are entitled to has dropped slightly. Seventy-two percent strongly agree or somewhat agree, down from 75% two years ago while 21% somewhat disagree or strongly disagree, up from 17% in 2005.

And if a private plan was in financial difficulty, one-third strongly agree or somewhat agree that the government would prevent members from losing benefits while 54% somewhat disagree or strongly disagree that would happen. There were no comparable numbers for 2005.

Canadians who agree that the government would intervene to prevent losses in the event that a pension fund got into financial trouble are in turn more likely to agree that their pension plan will be able to pay their benefits upon retirement.

The results are part of a larger survey on the public confidence in Canadian financial institutions conducted for OSFI by Environics.

To see the survey results on OSFI’s website, click here.

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