For its second annual Pension Awareness Day on Feb. 15, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario is holding information sessions for its employees to learn more about their pension plan.

Even people who actually have an employer-sponsored pension plan aren’t aware of the value of those benefits, says Andrew Fung, executive vice-president of pensions at the FSRA. “People are usually aware of other benefits they have, such as the number of vacation days they get [from their employer] or their salary or whether their dental coverage is sufficient, but forget that they have lots of value in [their] pension plan.”

Read: FSRA promoting retirement planning with Pension Awareness Day

He says it’s particularly important for employees with employer-sponsored plans to learn how much they contribute and how much they’ll have saved by the time they retire. For starters, they can approach their human resources department to ask questions, such as what happens to their plan if they change jobs.

“All of those details are so important . . . to learn. . . . By law, . . . pension plan administrators need to provide . . . members with an annual . . . pension statement, so [employees] should take time to read . . . and understand it and ask questions.”

Indeed, more than half (56 per cent) of Canadians don’t know how much money they’ll need to save to retire comfortably and more than a quarter (27 per cent) said they haven’t developed a plan to ensure they have enough money for retirement, according to a new survey by the FSRA.

Read: Survey finds 29% of Canadians are concerned about inflation’s impact on retirement savings

Many employees are struggling under the rising cost of living, so this is a great time to broach the retirement savings question, notes Fung. The FSRA’s survey also found a majority (81 per cent) of Canadians are more concerned about paying for basic necessities like groceries, rent and their mortgage than saving for retirement and 44 per cent said the high cost of living is preventing them from saving for retirement. What’s more, a fifth (20 per cent) said they don’t think they’ll ever be able to retire.

“In fact, we encourage people to [build up] awareness about the importance of retirement savings because it’s important to start earlier in the game. Retirement can be . . . one of the more expensive life events in my view. This is particularly important because people are living longer . . . [and] are spending more time in retirement years and [so they’re dependent on] retirement income for a longer period of time.”

He says when employers are developing their well-being strategies, it’s important they keep employees’ financial wellness in mind. The FSRA’s survey found 44 per cent of Canadians believe their quality of life will be worse off when they retire, compared to just 17 per cent of Canadians who believe it will be better. Two-thirds (39 per cent) said they think it will be the same.

“It’s never too late to start [saving for retirement]. It’s better to start early and take advantage of the impact of compounding over times because retirement is 20 to 30 years away for many people. Starting young and . . . early . . . will actually go a long way in terms of financial well-being every time.”

Read: Just 35% of working Canadians aged 50+ can afford to retire when they want: survey