While the coronavirus pandemic has taken a heavy toll among the elderly, retirees have seen their pension payments and entitlements well protected in Canada and other member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, according to a new report from the organization.

The average retirement age in Canada is 63.9 years for men and 62.6 years for women, it found, and that capital — mostly consisting of private pensions — accounts for 40 per cent of all income sources for older people. Pension contribution rates to earnings-related schemes are roughly 10 per cent and the mandatory pension contribution rate for the average public worker is 5.25 per cent each for employee and employer.

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Canada’s public expenditure on old age and survivor benefits has increased slowly over the last two decades to 11.6 per cent of total government spending in 2017, up from 10.1 per cent in 2000. While Canada’s public expenditure on pensions between 2018 and 2020 was 5.3 per cent of gross domestic product, that number is projected to increase to six per cent in 2025 and slowly grow to 6.3 per cent by 2060. Canada is also among six OECD countries where tax expenditures for retirement savings exceed one per cent of GDP and one of six countries where the pension asset-to-GDP ratio (179.7 per cent) is higher than 100 per cent.

The report also found that real estate (11.9 per cent of total assets) is a significant component of the portfolios of Canadian pension providers, either directly or indirectly through collective investment schemes, while more than 20 per cent of the reserves of the Canada Pension Plan are invested in private equity. And over the last 15 years, Canadian pension plans posted an average annual return of 4.7 per cent, second only to Colombia at 5.3 per cent.

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