The National Institute on Ageing (NIA) has partnered with the Environics Institute for Survey Research, to develop an annual survey of Canadians over 50, intended to inform Canadian policymakers and provide them with data to show where changes are needed and whether they’re working.

“Canada’s population is set to hit peak ageing in the next 10 years,” NIA writes in a statement announcing the publication of the inaugural survey’s results in a new report, Perspectives on Growing Older in Canada: The 2022 NIA Ageing in Canada Survey.

Over the next 10 years, the survey will track older Canadian’s perspectives on their physical, social and financial well-being. NIA is a public policy and research centre based at the Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University).

The 2022 NIA Ageing in Canada survey was conducted online with 5,885 Canadians over 50. It found that many are feeling optimistic: 63 per cent felt positive about their experience or expectations of growing older, 72 per cent said they had sufficient income to build savings and avoid major problems and 89 per cent who still lived in their own homes were confident they could keep living there for as long as they wanted.

Social isolation 

Older Canadians with fair and poor health, however, were more likely to be at risk of social isolation and less likely to believe they would have access to the health care and community supports they would need to live in their own homes for as long as they wanted.

The survey further found that 41 per cent were at risk of social isolation and 28 per cent said they’d struggled to access the health care they needed in the past 12 months. It also found that 31 per cent of all survey respondents and 40 per cent of those born outside of Canada, say they have been discriminated against or mistreated because of their age.

Retirement readiness 

In the survey’s results about financial security, the report looks at two indicators, financial well-being which refers to the overall financial position of older Canadians, and retirement readiness which looks at whether older Canadians who have yet to retire, feel financially prepared to do so.

“Few older working Canadians reported feeling confident in their ability to afford to retire when they want,” the report states.

In this segment of the survey, researchers found that 72 per cent thought their income was adequate, 26 per cent, one in four, reported that their income was inadequate and 63 per cent reported having access to financial resources if they were faced with an unexpected event or loss.

Those 80 and over reported the highest levels of financial well-being with 89 per cent saying they had adequate income and 78 per cent saying they would be able to withstand a financial shock. “This higher level of confidence may not, however, be reflective of the actual financial circumstances of these varying age groups,”

Notably, among those working and who intend to retire, just 35 per cent report being in a position to do so, 37 per cent said they were not ready and 25 per cent said their position was unclear.

The NIA says the survey marks the beginning of a new initiative – a 10-year campaign of advocacy, research and knowledge mobilization.

“In less than 10 years, about one quarter of Canada’s population will be aged 65 years and older,” the report’s researchers write. “Adequately understanding the circumstances and evolving needs of this ageing population requires collecting regular and reliable data from older Canadians themselves.”