In a recent survey, about half of the respondents admitted that they are living paycheque to paycheque and three in four are behind on their retirement savings.

The Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) polled more than 5,500 employees from across Canada and found that many are barely making ends meet; 48% said it would be difficult to meet their financial obligations if their paycheques were delayed by just one week. What's more, 24% did not think they could not come up with $2,000 in the event of an emergency in the next month. The situation was worst in British Columbia, where 53% could not miss a pay cheque and 27% would not be able to find $2,000.

39% of Canadians say they are "overwhelmed"

While household income has remained largely unchanged, the survey reveals that higher spending and debt levels are making it difficult for people to save: 40% of the respondents spend all or more than their net pay and 47% save 5% or less of their earnings. Asked how they feel about their debt levels, 39% of Canadians say they are "overwhelmed" and 11% do not believe they will ever be debt free.

With 76% indicating that they have only set aside one-quarter or less of what they feel they will need for their old age, retirement plans have been pushed back. Nearly one-half of Canadians (45%) now expect they will have to work longer. The average target retirement date has risen to 62, whereas five years ago most people thought would be able to stop working at age 60.