An overwhelming majority of Canadians say they want a program that makes it easier for employers to offer a pension plan, according to a Research House survey commissioned by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA).

The results show 90% of Canadians support the federal government’s proposal to improve employer access to pension plans through Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs), which would be administered by regulated financial institutions. PRPPs have received greater attention in recent months, following Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s announced agreement with the provinces for governments to move ahead with plans for PRPPs as an aspect of enhancing the country’s pension system.

The aim of PRPPs is to encourage more retirement savings, and the survey data suggests they will have the intended effect: 55% of working Canadians say they would save more for retirement if they had a PRPP option. The number jumps to 60% for households with 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.”

PRPPs make it easier and less expensive for employers to offer employees a retirement savings program. They relieve the employer of almost all administrative costs and compliance issues – except for payroll deduction processing – enabling more companies, employees and the self-employed to participate. PRPPs will be particularly appealing to small- and medium-sized employers.

Support for PRPPs was greatest – 92% – among people working for private companies. Albertans show the highest rate of support at 94%. Ninety-one percent of Ontarians and Atlantic Canadians support PRPPs, with support in Quebec only slightly lower at 86%.

While 59% support some government role in retirement saving, the poll shows Canadians also want choice in their investment decisions, and think the private sector provides it. A mere 13% say they want their retirement savings completely in 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,” Swedlove said.

Younger employed Canadians continue to lag behind their older counterparts in retirement saving: 54% of those aged 18-29 who are working for a private company say that presently they are not saving at all for retirement, while 75% those aged 30-49 and 78% in the 50-64 age bracket say they are saving. Residents of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the highest savers at 87%, while Quebeckers and British Columbians are the lowest at 63% and 66%, respectively.

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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Mike Murphy:

Interesting statistics but I would really like to see what the survey questions asked and how they were presented.
Did the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), who I assume has members that would profit from any PRPP plans, bias the survey to fit its members agenda?
Perhaps a survey sponsored by an independent organization asking unbiased questions and supplying a true picture of what PRPP’s really are would get a totally different result.

How about telling Canadians how CPP and PRPP differ and then asking what they would prefer; Improved CPP or a new PRPP option? I suspect that the results would be very different than those of the CLHIA survey.
Big Insurance can’t fool anyone with biased surveys.

Wednesday, February 23 at 8:44 am | Reply

Mitch Smith:

Bingo Mike, if the choice had been presented of expanding CPP somehow – either with an optional supplement or a base increase OR a PRPP run by the for-profit financial institutions the results would have been extremely different.

The Financial Industry has been watching Pension Plans decline in Canada for decades and did nothing until the moment it was mentioned that CPP may be expanded in some way. Then they did everything they could to stop that – and they won.

A PRPP run by many Carriers will be full of complexities and errors, they grossly overestimate the ability of their entry level staff to administer it. Look at the administrative fiasco on TFSAs and withdrawals and re-contributions and the TFSA is an extremely simple retirement product.

Just watch what happens with the infinitely more complex pension product and its rules on marriage breakdown, hardship unlocking etc. It takes years to train staff to the point that they are competent in Pension Legislation. The CPP staff is already at that level – the revolving door on the low-paying entry level positions of the people who will do the administrative work on this new PRPP plan are not and will never be because half of them are in and out of those positions in under 2 years.

It will frustrate Employers who choose to participate and who will likely opt out if they even try it at all. This PRPP cannot possibly match the low cost fees the Govt could have provided plan members.

It was not the best option for Canadians but it certainly was for Financial Institutions. Makes you wonder who pensions are really for – are they there for Canadians to get skimmed paying the highest MERs in the world to the Financial Institutions or are they there to genuinely help plan members save for their retirement first and foremost.

I honestly don’t think it is the latter anymore…

Wednesday, February 23 at 11:47 am


The intended beneficiaries of PRPP were supposedly low income Canadians without a sponsored pension program and the self employed. The reality however is quite different. The “financial institutions” can’t wait for this to happen because of the potential locked in fee potential. The large corporations and organizations, who already sponsor CAPs in one form or another, love the idea of PRPP – they can’t wait. They will be able to transfer all their fiduciary responsibilities and risk to the PRPP plus their admin cost will drop significantly. If anyone truly believes the fees will be lower think again.The admin costs as all sponsora are aware are significant and the legal risks high and the financial insitutions have to make a profit as well. The PRPP members have to pay for all of this.

It appears the real intent of PRPP was a gift to the corporations and other orgs which will and the PRPP memebrs transferred by sposors to the PRPP will be far worse off rather than better off.

Given that the huge financial impact and advantages to the sponsors of CAPS are so obvious it is either a case of the Finance Dept being totally ignorant of the nuances of pension governance or they intended that the primary benefit would go to the plan sponsors. In other words a gift – You would think the Liberals or NDP would have figured this out and pointed it out by now.

Monday, February 28 at 1:23 am | Reply

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