November 2, 2023

Is inflation killing the retirement dreams of Canadians?

Writing in The Brantford Expositor, Pamela Heaven cites new research, which suggests that while retirement security may be improving, “Canadians aren’t buying it.”

Her article looks at recent findings from the Natixis Investment Managers’ Global Retirement Index, which reported “a higher score for retirement security than the year before.”

The research, she continues, found “improved economic conditions in the most countries, including Canada, mainly in employment growth, wages gains and interest rates.”

However, writes Heaven, “Natixis research shows that this (financial) optimism is not shared by Canadians in their everyday life.”

“Saving for retirement was already a challenge. Now, as people think about the impact of higher prices, longer lives, and the potential for reduced retirement benefits, many are doubting whether they will be able to put all the pieces together,” Dave Goodsell, head of the Natixis Center for Investor Insights, tells the Expositor.

The article notes that 32 per cent of working respondents who had more than $100,000 in “investable assets” believe that “inflation is killing their dreams of retirement.”

And, the article continues, “38 per cent think it will take a miracle to retire securely, up from the 25 per cent who said the same in 2021.”

Eighty per cent of those surveyed “say that recent history has shown them how big a threat inflation is to their retirement security.” Worse, 70 per cent fear that high public debt may lead to a cut in government retirement benefits “down the road,” the article reports.

This, the article adds, may lead to “tough choices” in retirement for some of us.

“About half expect to have no option but to live frugally in retirement, 20 per cent expect they will have to work and 21 per cent expect they will have to sell their home,” the article reports.

Canada, the article concludes, is ranked 12th in Natixis’ “annual index among 44 countries,” with citizens of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Ireland being ranked as the top four countries for retirement security.

It’s an interesting article. There is no question that inflation can be a huge negative when it comes to retirement saving. If the price of everything is going up, it is harder to find money to tuck away for the future.

Those of us who have a pension arrangement through work are paying their future selves first. If retirement savings is deducted from each paycheque, after a while you don’t miss it and manage with what’s left.

If you don’t have a pension plan at work, don’t worry – you can join the Saskatchewan Pension Plan and set up pay yourself first automatic contributions from your bank account. You can start small, and then grow your contributions as things improve in the future. Your contributions to SPP are invested in a low-cost, professionally managed pooled fund, and will offer an important source of retirement income when the days of work life fade into memory.

Great news! SPP’s flexible Variable Benefit option is no longer limited to those members living within the borders of Saskatchewan. Now all retiring SPP members across the country can take advantage of this provision, which puts you in control of how much income you want to withdraw, and when you want to withdraw it. You can also transfer in additional savings from other unlocked registered sources. For full details see

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.


March 28, 2022

What the return of inflation will look like for wages, debt and savings

Writing in the Financial Post, noted financial writer Jason Heath takes a look at what the return of inflation will mean for us.

He reports that in February, the consumer price index (CPI) jumped by 5.7 per cent, which “is the biggest increase since August 1991, when inflation was six per cent.”

Since that long-ago peak, he writes, inflation has fallen to much lower levels. Over the last 30 years, it has averaged 1.9 per cent, Heath explains. And, he adds, the Bank of Canada over the intervening years has put policies in place, as required, to keep the brakes on inflation.

Managing inflation through central bank policy is a lot like turning around an ocean liner – you have to make small adjustments over a long time frame. For interest rates, corrective action takes place “typically within a horizon of six to eight quarters,” or a year and a half to two years, he writes.

Despite that effort, our old friend is back, and not just here in Canada. Inflation rates are at 7.9 per cent in the U.S., 6.1 per cent in India, and at 5.9 per cent in the “Eurozone,” he writes.

He then takes a look at its likely impacts.

Higher wages: First, he writes, employers need to look at wage increases. Hourly wages have increased by just 1.8 per cent since 2020. “If inflation remains persistently high, workers whose earnings cannot keep up with the rate of inflation are effectively getting a pay cut,” he notes. They’ll need more wages to pay for the higher price of goods and services, he explains.

Higher interest on debt: If you are carrying a lot of debt, higher interest rates will cut into your cash flow, he writes.

“That cash flow decrease may not be immediate but many mortgage borrowers will see their amortization period increase as more of their monthly payments go to interest and their debt-free date is delayed. This is an important consideration for young homebuyers if they are going to balance their home ownership goals with other priorities like retirement,” he writes.

Even an increase of two per cent in borrowing rates, Heath explains, could add 13 years to your mortgage if you don’t change your monthly payment amount.

Inflation protection for retirees: Heath points out that government pensions – the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security – are indexed, and are increased annually based on the rate of inflation. This, he says, is a “powerful” hedge against inflation.

Interest rates are a consideration for those living on savings. If interest rates on your investments don’t keep up with inflation, it will take less time for your portfolio to decline to zero. But if interest rates are higher than inflation, you may still have tens of thousands of dollars in savings 25 or 30 years after you start drawing down your savings.

“In the short run, higher inflation is concerning and can lead to uncertainty. The Bank of Canada is likely to continue to increase interest rates to counter the higher cost of living. There is a risk the rate increases have taken too long to start or may now happen more quickly than expected, and that may have implications for savers, retirees, the economy, and the stock market,” he concludes.

Save with SPP was a youngish reporter in 1991, and remembers that the guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) was still a big tool in one’s investment portfolio in those days, as was the Canada Savings Bond. While interest on such products had been double digit a decade earlier, it was still nice to get five or six per cent interest each year without having to invest in riskier stocks or equity mutual funds.

And while it is exciting to imagine our wages going up by five per cent or more, it is rendered less exciting when the cost of everything is also going up. It was strange, on our recent trip to Whitby to see our new grandbaby, to be “excited” to find gas at the pump for under $1.70 per litre.

What’s a retirement saver to do? If you are following a balanced approach, with exposure to multiple asset classes, you should fare pretty well in a challenging investment environment. An example of that is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan’s Balanced Fund. It has eight distinct and different investment categories in which to place your savings “eggs,” including Canadian, U.S. and Non-North American Equity, Bonds, Mortgages, Real Estate, Short-Term Investments and Infrastructure. If one category is having challenges, it is quite likely that others are performing well – that’s the advantage of a balanced approach. 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.