July 8, 2024

Women retirees receiving 17 per cent less than men: report

We’ve all known for a while that women tend to outlive men. But a new study from Ontario’s Pay Equity Office reveals that women, on average, receive 17 per cent less income in retirement than men do.

The study was highlighted in a recent story in the Financial Post, which took a deeper dive on the issue of what it calls “the pension gap.”

Having a gap is bad, but the Post informs us that the gap between the retirement income of Canadian men and women has actually worsened over time.

“The gender pension gap was 15 per cent in 1976, but despite women’s increased labour force participation, it widened to 17 per cent in 2021, according to Statistics Canada. The average retirement income for Canadian women in that year was $36,700 and the median was $29,700,” the Post reports.

“Women receive $0.83 to every $1 a man receives in retirement income. That is a 17 per cent gendered pension gap,” Kadie Philp, commissioner and chief administrative officer of the Ontario Pay Equity Commission, states in the Post article. “This stark reality isn’t just a number — it’s a concerning trend contributing to a notable gender disparity among older Canadians, particularly women.”

And even worse, many women are not only making less than men, but are living at or below the poverty line, the newspaper notes.

“According to the report, approximately 200,000 more women than men over the age of 65 were living below Canada’s low-income threshold in 2020. Twenty-one per cent of women who had incomes below the cut-off were above the age of 75 — 51 per cent higher than the portion of their male counterparts of the same age,” the Post article tells us.

So, we may all wonder, what’s going on here – what’s causing this “pension gap?”

The fact that women take time away from employment to bear and raise children is cited as one factor for having lower retirement income, the Post states. Additionally, and perhaps for the same reason, part-time work is higher amongst women than men – 24.4 per cent of women worked part-time in 2021 compared to 13 per cent of men, the article says.

Women also get less income when off on parental leaves than men do, the Post notes.  “A majority of insured mothers in Canada (89.9 per cent) took maternity or parental leave at a reduced income level compared with 11.9 per cent of insured fathers or partners,” the Post reports.

As well, there’s the big factor of pay equity generally. Women typically make 28 per cent less throughout the year (and 11 per cent less per hour) than men. We are left to conclude that if you earn less you are no doubt also saving less for retirement.

Finally, the Post discusses “historical biases,” citing the design of Canada’s public pension system that is “designed for heterosexual couples with a male counterpart.”

The takeaway from all of this seems clear. If you are a woman, you need to focus, and never overlook, the importance of retirement saving. If there’s a pension plan where you work, make sure you are signed up and contributing to the maximum – many plans allow part-time workers to join their retirement program.

If you don’t have a program in place for work, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be a key resource for creating your own future retirement income. SPP, after all, was first designed to provide pension benefits to people – such as farm wives – who didn’t have access to a retirement program via employment.

SPP will take the dollars you contribute and grow them via a professionally managed, low-cost, pooled fund. When it’s time to collect, you can choose from options like a lifetime monthly annuity payment, or the more flexible Variable Benefit.

Check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *