stressed senior couple calculating budget at home
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Quebecers aged 65 and older are working later in life are carrying more debt than they used to, according to a report from Levis, Que.-based Desjardins Group.

Citing data from Statistics Canada and the Institut de la statistique du Québec, the report noted that workers in Quebec have been retiring later in recent years — but they’re still exiting the workforce earlier than people in Ontario and Western Canada.

According to the report, 60.9% of Quebec’s new retirees were under 65 between 2014 and 2018. In Western Canada, 53.6% of new retirees were under 65 during the same time span, and 52.8% of new retirees were under 65 in Ontario.

Labour market participation, which includes both workers and job-seekers, has steadily increased among Quebec seniors aged 60-64 and 65-69, the report added, but is not as high as participation rates throughout the rest of Canada.

One reason Quebecers may be incentivized to continue working later in life, the report suggested, is a new tax credit that was tabled in Quebec’s March 2019 budget, which raises the income tax threshold to $28,226 from $18,129 for workers over 60.

Seniors in Quebec are also carrying more debt, the report said, although their assets have also increased, largely due to an appreciation in house prices.

The proportion of Quebec senior families carrying debt increased from 27.5% in 1999 to 40.1% in 2016. Two-thirds of that increase was attributable to mortgage debt, with the other third attributable to consumer debt.

Over the same time span, median debt increased from $8,300 to $16,500, while median assets rose from $275,200 to $406,000, largely due to appreciation in the housing market, the report noted.

Read the full Desjardins report.