Pension saving
iStockphoto/Galeanu Mihai

As the Feb. 29 deadline to make 2023 RRSP contributions nears, just under half (49%) of Canadians said they will add funds to their RRSP, down slightly from 51% last year, according to a poll by investment firm Edward Jones released Tuesday.

There was also a slight drop in the number of Canadians who said they would max out their RRSP: 21% compared to 23% last year. On the flip side, 12% said they couldn’t afford to contribute anything to their RRSP.

One in 10 investors polled by Edward Jones said they were considering other options for investing, such as TFSAs, First Home Savings Accounts, non-registered accounts and real estate.

A separate survey from CIBC found investors favouring TFSAs this year. Over half (53%) of investors with both TFSA and RRSP accounts said that a TFSA contribution made more sense for them right now because of the tax-free withdrawals, according to the CIBC poll released Monday.

“The preference for short-term liquidity and stable returns suggests many Canadians are focused on today and less so on long-term accumulation of wealth or retirement,” said Carissa Lucreziano, vice-president of financial and investment advice at CIBC, in a release.

A BMO survey found that higher interest rates and inflationary pressures are cutting into RRSP contributions, with 63% citing those factors as negatively affecting their ability to save for retirement. Average RRSP account holdings in 2023 were $113,070 compared to $144,613 last year and $112,295 in 2020, according to BMO.

However, average RRSP contributions increased to $6,512 in 2023, up from $5,753 in 2022, and 62% of respondents said they intended to contribute to RRSPs this year despite economic headwinds.

The economic environment has affected Canadians of all ages. Almost half of boomers (44%) said they’re working longer than planned to save more for retirement, according to BMO, and 38% of Gen Z said they’re putting off saving for retirement entirely.

The online Edward Jones poll was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights between Jan. 24-26 with the participation of 1,699 Canadian adults. The CIBC poll was conducted by Maru Public Opinion between Jan. 31-Feb. 1 with the participation of 1,109 Canadian adults. The BMO survey was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights between Nov. 3-8 with the participation of 1,510 Canadian adults.