For years LAPP has described the value you receive from paying into a pension that provides a secure income throughout your retirement life. We've also shared the value the Plan delivers to contributing employers through the direct benefits of reduced hiring and new training costs, institutional knowledge loss, and workplace planning — as well as improved recruitment, retention, productivity, and employee morale.
A new study, The Pension Canadians Want: Perceptions of Retirement (2016–2022), sheds light on how the global events of the past six years, including the pandemic, climate change, inflation, economic challenges, and shifting labour demands, have influenced employees’ views about retirement.
The research conducted by the Canadian Public Pension Leadership Council (CPPLC) reveals that employees still prioritize a predictable, lifetime guaranteed retirement income that adjusts for inflation.
However, financial stress related to retirement planning has negatively impacted respondents’ overall wellbeing, leading to concerns about running out of money during and maintaining living standards throughout retirement — which now take precedence over non-essential goals such as travel or supporting family members.
The report examines how factors like geographic location, gender, and access to workplace plans have influenced perspectives, while highlighting a decline in confidence about retiring at a chosen age, maintaining a desired standard of living, and being debt-free in retirement compared to 2016.
With over 60% of Canadians [and over 70% of Albertans] lacking coverage under a plan, there is an immediate need to expand workplace pensions, which would improve worker wellbeing and morale and enhance business performance through increased recruitment, retention, and productivity.
The first action the report recommends is dramatically expanding retirement income coverage throughout Canada, which could be achieved by introducing innovative products that provide predictable retirement income streams, increasing access to collective plans, leveraging the expertise of successful public sector pensions, and promoting participation in workplace plans through lessons learned from other countries.
Second, the findings call for concerted efforts from stakeholders (employers, plan administrators, and policymakers) to invest in unbiased financial literacy and education programs. Tailoring these to specific demographics, addressing knowledge gaps, focusing on the impacts of inflation, as well as promoting debt management to ensure a holistic approach to financial preparedness, is critical for empowering employees toward making informed decisions and navigating the complexities of retirement planning.
By collectively addressing these recommendations, Canadians can be better equipped to achieve their retirement goals and enjoy a secure and fulfilling post-work life.
The study is also directly available on the cpplc.ca site here.
LAPP, PSPP, and SFPP were also interested in exploring the social value that returns to Alberta as a result of their active and retiree members benefitting from the many features provided by a Defined Benefit (DB) pension — and how that compares with Defined Contribution (DC) plans or individual RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plans). That resulted in a research paper from CANCEA on the social value benefits of the plans.
This social impact report shows that the DB pensions enjoyed by these plan members (retired and active) not only dramatically reduce financial pressures, stress, and uncertainty, but also directly increase quality of life, career satisfaction, physical and mental health, community engagement, volunteerism, and charitable donations — confirming that LAPP members' lives are enriched by their plan.
Using the Wellbeing Valuation approach, which converts subjective satisfaction into financial terms for each unique individual, the financial value of increased life satisfaction for members of these three plans alone is over $1.2 billion annually. Combined with pension payments of $2.1 billion, the total financial, personal, and societal benefits for retired members of the included plans amounted to $3.3 billion in just one year (2021).
Primarily due to financial security, nearly two thirds (64%) of these DB plan retirees meet their financial needs very or extremely well, and are much better (203%) prepared for unexpected expenses. This directly translates to higher satisfaction with life across all regions, genders, incomes, and ages — which only increases with age as members recognize the growing importance of their plan while nearing retirement.
Economic research was commissioned by LAPP, the Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP), the Alberta Teachers' Retirement Fund (ATRF), and the Special Forces Pension Plan (SFPP), to see exactly what impact these four plans, their investments, and their active and retiree members have on the Alberta economy each year. How many jobs are created? How much money do they contribute back into the economy? How much do they pay in taxes? What percentage of the annual provincial GDP results from these plans?
The final report shows that these four pension plans and their 401,500 active, retired, and deferred members contributed more than $4.8 billion to Alberta’s economy in 2021.
The plans supported over 43,700 local jobs and over $2.2 billion in local wages across the province, covering the full range of industry sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, finance, retail, accommodations, and the food supply chain.
Over 504,000 Albertans benefitted in total, with the plans also directly supporting nearly 40,000 households, including 2,900 lone-parent households and over 19,400 households with children.
The four plans have investments worth over $2.5 billion in nearly 100 communities across Alberta, including office space, apartment buildings, industrial buildings, shopping malls, and utilities such as natural gas supplying over 82,000 households in 90 communities.
With pension payments of $3.1 billion in 2021, representing 27% of all provincial retirement income, the Defined Benefit (DB) retirees from these four plans alone contributed $1 billion toward corporate, income, and consumption government tax revenue. One-fifth (20%) of all created employment and pension spending was outside the major urban centres.
Canadian defined benefit public pension funds and public sector pension plans such as LAPP are regarded as some of the best in the world. For that reason, the World Bank Group studied why our Plan and others like it are so successful and why they're worth copying in emerging economies.
The Evolution of the Canadian Pension Model: Practical Lessons for Building World-class Pension Organizations is also designed to help strengthen retirement security for Canadians and to increase discussion about why these types of plans and funds should be emulated and supported.
The report focuses on success factors including the essential components of defined benefit plan organizations found in four top Canadian pension funds, including LAPP’s investment manager, Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo).
Based on interviews with several CEOs, it shows that the true value of our plans is underestimated at home, both in Canada and in Alberta, because of misinformation campaigns that seek to fuel pension envy and spread inaccuracies about the cost and sustainability of these superior retirement income models.
The report covers all aspects of Canadian Pension Model organizations such as independent governance, professional in-house investment management, scale, extensive geographic and asset-class diversification, administration, plan design and funding, and regulation and public policy — as well as presenting a four-phase framework for the evolution of these types of plans and funds.
Based on case studies done on AIMCo and three other pension funds/plans (Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOP); Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ); and OPTrust), it finds there are 14 key lessons for success that can be learned, including:
Aiming to document the emergence and evolution of the Canadian Pension Model, the report distills practical lessons for stakeholders in emerging economies working to improve their pension arrangements and retirement systems.