Canada’s Pension Plan Benefits Are Below Average

Compared to the support other countries provide retirees, our generous government pensions look a bit less generous

By Jennifer Hughes

Photo: iStock/Tonyianiro.

Canadian retirees rely on the benefits they receive from the Canada Pension Plan (or Quebec Pension Plan), Old Age Security, and—for some—the Guaranteed Income Supplement, but as a percentage of their working wage, those benefits are relatively low compared to those in other countries. Canada’s not alone, though: in fact, some of the biggest countries in the developed world offer the lowest pensions to their citizens.

According to the most recent Pensions at a Glance report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), pensioners in Canada receive approximately 55% of their working wage once they retire. Meanwhile, pensioners in the United States collect 49% and thjose in the United Kingdom receive only 29%. The report, which used data from the OECD’s 35 member countries and various other nations, showed that the average pension rate is 63%, while the average for European Union member states is even higher—71%: pensions in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom are all clearly below average.

The report revealed that the countries with the highest pension rates are Croatia (129%), Turkey (102%), and the Netherlands (101%), with India (99%), Portugal (95%), and Italy (93%) not far close behind.

Though Canada’s pension plan has seen some recent changes, it’s clear that we still have a long way to go. One of the biggest problems for those dealing with government pension benefits is our increased life expectancy. According to the 27th Canadian Pension Plan Actuarial Report, in 1966, a Canada 65-year-old male could expect to live another 13.6 years; that number had risen to 19.9 by 2016. A 65-year-old woman could expect another 16.9 years in 1966, but by 2016, the number was 22.5. A longer life means a longer retirement and greater pressure on government pensions.