Canadian women fret over medical and care expenses in retirement

A survey sheds new light on the rocky road to retirement that Canadian women are treading

Canadian women fret over medical and care expenses in retirement

A new survey from HSBC has revealed the extent to which Canadian women are concerned over their ability to support themselves in retirement.

In a survey of over 17,400 people covering 16 countries and territories, including 1,005 Canadians, the bank found that 50% of working-age Canadian women are worried that they will not be able to cover their medical or care expenses during retirement. Nearly the same percentage (44%) expressed concern over their ability to pay for basic necessities at that time; this is compared to only 37% of men with the same fear.

Part of this fear stems from a lack of knowledge and preparation. Fifty-one per cent of Canadian working-age women in the survey either did not know how much they’re saving for retirement, or have not started saving at all, in comparison to 46% of working-age women globally. And when it comes to how much of their pre-retirement income they should set aside for a financially comfortable retirement, 38% of Canadian female respondents did not know, compared to 23% of Canadian men.

“Women have largely closed the gap with men in terms of workforce participation, which is roughly equal today,” said Cindy Wong, head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management Marketing at HSBC Bank Canada. “[B]ut when it comes to finances and planning for retirement, there is still work to do to ensure equal comfort and security in retirement.”

Forty-eight per cent of Canadian female respondents feared they wouldn’t have enough to pay for basic living needs if ill health forced them or their partner to retire early; only 40% of Canadian men felt the same. If their partner were to pass away, 42% of working-age women in Canada worried that they wouldn’t be able to cope financially, as opposed to just 30% of men.

Focusing on respondents already in retirement, HSBC found that Canadian women were more likely than men to expect to rely on their spouse’s income or pension (42% vs. 30%) and financial support from their children (16% vs. 6%).

Another challenge for women is the fact that they’re more likely to take breaks from their career to look after their children. This includes taking parental leave (a reality among more than 62% of Canadian working-age mothers, and just 22% of their male counterparts) and reduced working hours (33% vs. 21%). Because of this considerable amount of time out from earning, 25% of working-age women in Canada have not set aside as much for their nest egg as their partners.

Despite their concerns about their ability to manage financially in retirement, Canadian working-age women were generally more positive about other aspects of post-work life than men. This includes looking forward to pursuing old or new hobbies and interests (77% of Canadian working-age women vs. 70% of men) and rediscovering themselves (58% vs. 52%). Women were also less likely than men to feel their life wouldn’t be worth living after the death of their partner (18% vs. 37%).


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