The RSI Index measures the knowledge that Canadians have of their retirement income system. The level of general financial literacy among Canadians is fairly low, although it is comparable to what is observed elsewhere. In the context of an aging population and of a changing retirement landscape – programs, behaviours, labour market, family structures, health… – it is appropriate to measure the knowledge that Canadians have of their retirement income system. Indeed, a certain level of knowledge seems essential to plan for retirement, particularly in a system that relies heavily on non-public pillars.

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The level of general financial literacy among Canadians remains fairly low, although comparable to levels measured in other industrialized countries. In the context of an aging population and a changing retirement landscape, the RSI Index measures Canadians’ knowledge of their retirement income system.

The 2021 edition of the RSI Index combines the responses of 3,002 Canadians aged 35 to 54 to 29 questions on general financial literacy and on retirement programs. For this 3rd edition, the overall index is down slightly to 37.0%, in between the overall score obtained for the two previous editions of the Index, thus still showing a significant lack of knowledge among Canadians. The best-understood subjects are once again CPP/QPP and RRSPs/TFSAs, while the most difficult subjects continue to be employer plans and Old Age Security. In both these cases, respondents said they “didn’t know” the answer, on average, to half of the questions – a new result this year. In addition to raising questions, once again, about the capacity of Canadians to make financial decisions with heavy consequences, the RSI Index 2021 underscores the importance of providing information on the retirement system, as well as the uncertainty and lack of knowledge that are characteristic among Canadians.

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The 2020 edition of the RSI Index combines the responses of 3,006 Canadians aged 35 to 54 to 29 knowledge questions, on general financial knowledge and on programs (4 topics). For the 2nd edition, the overall index shows a slight increase at 38.2%, still reflecting a limited knowledge of the system; more educated individuals improved their score. The best-known topics are again RRSPs and the CPP/QPP, which may be more present in the lives of the non retired. The most difficult topics are the ill-known employer plans; and Old-Age Security programs, on which 3/4 of respondents have a hard time providing more than 4 correct answers out of 8 questions. Limited knowledge of the system could be a disadvantage for many; and although the survey was fielded prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, its results raise questions about the capacity of Canadians to take financial decisions with heavy consequences. The 2020 RSI Index also reminds of the importance of information on the retirement system.

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he RSI Index combines the responses of 3,000 Canadians aged 35 to 54 to 6 questions of general financial knowledge and 23 program-specific questions on 4 different topics, for a total of 29 questions. For the first edition, the overall index is 36.5%, reflecting a limited knowledge of our multi-pillar system and of certain key concepts. As one might expect, older, more educated, and higher-earning individuals do slightly better, but their level of knowledge is still low. The most difficult topics are the ill-known employer plans; and Old-Age Security, which comprises of various poorly understood programs. On the latter topic, most respondents have a hard time providing more than 2 correct answers out of 8 questions. Limited knowledge of the system could put at a disadvantage those relying on private savings, as much as lower- earning individuals – who might be more likely to depend on public programs. The 2019 RSI Index reminds us of the importance of information about the retirement system.