More than half of Canadians say they plan to set aside more savings in the event they or a family income earner loses their job because of current economic conditions, according to the findings of a national survey commissioned Coast Capital Savings.

Lawrie Ferguson, Coast Capital Savings’ senior vp, marketing, says the recession and economic challenges are making Canadians more aware of the need to have an emergency or rainy day fund, in case the unexpected happens.

“Our survey shows 56% of Canadians are planning to save more, in case they or another income earner in their household loses their job, and among British Columbians the figure is 63%,” says Ferguson.

The study found that 63% of Canadians already have a rainy day fund. Of this number, 53% have less than $5,000. One-in-five or 19% have savings valued between $5,000 and $9,999 and one-in-ten or 10% have savings valued between $10,000 and $24,999. Six per cent have savings of $25,000 and upwards, while the remaining 12% are either unsure or uncomfortable answering this question.

“While we all hope we’ll never need to use this money, its positive news that some Canadians are already saving for emergency scenarios, but if you consider that it is advisable to have three to four months of living expenses set aside, we need to encourage people to take savings even more seriously,” Ferguson said.

The release of the survey results coincides with the introduction by Coast Capital Savings of the nation’s first high interest savings account offering full, no-strings-attached access to financial transactions, for free. Ferguson said the goal of the account, which offers a top-tier interest rate and includes unlimited day-to-day transactions like debit card purchases and in-branch transactions, is to encourage savings.

“In the survey, 75% of Canadians agreed if savings accounts offered higher interest rates, it would encourage them to save more and nearly 60% said they are actively looking for ways to reduce service fees they are being charged by financial institutions because of current economic conditions,” Ferguson added.

The survey also explored Canadians’ attitudes towards the newly introduced Tax Free Savings Account. Fifty-four per cent of Canadians were aware of TFSAs while 42% were unaware. Four per cent were unsure. Sixty-two per cetn of Canadians are more likely to open a tax TFSA because of current economic conditions. At 68%, B.C. residents are even more likely to do so, compared to other Canadians.

Among Canadians likely to open a TFSA account, the most preferred product for the account was a high interest savings account, at 48%. B.C. residents were even more likely than other Canadians to select a high interest savings product for the tax free savings account, at 55%.

The Ipsos Reid survey of 906 Canadians has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3%, nineteen times out of twenty. The B.C. sample of 463 respondents has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6%, nineteen times out of twenty.

Coast Capital Savings is Canada’s second largest credit union with total assets under administration of $11.9 billion, 380,000 members and 51 branches in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island regions of British Columbia.