Your employees are not retiring when planned – and health is the top reason


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Released today, the results of the 2014 Sun Life Canadian Health Index indicate that Canadians are not able to retire when planned.  The study reveals that almost 70 per cent (69%) of retired Canadians did not stop working on the date they planned. Among those Canadians who did not retire as planned, 41 per cent cited personal health as the primary reason for retiring earlier.

In fact, almost half of Canadians (45 per cent) have experienced a health event with nearly a quarter (23%) of them impacted by a mental health issue according to the 2014 Sun Life Canadian Health Index, conducted by Ipsos Reid.

 “The statistics show your retirement date may arrive sooner than you expected,” notes Kevin Dougherty, President, Sun Life Financial Canada. “Simply working longer to make ends meet may not be possible after serious health events force many Canadians to leave the workforce, triggering a surprise retirement date.”

Of those Canadians who experienced a significant health event, 42 per cent have experienced financial hardship (26 per cent some, 16 per cent significant hardship) and 25 per cent have reduced or depleted their savings as a result.

What does this mean for employers?

Employers are ideally positioned to help Canadians live healthier and retire on their terms – and it is in their organization’s best interest to do so.  It is clear from the study that many employees may have to leave work abruptly due to a health condition or will have to work longer but in poor health.  Either scenario can seriously impact productivity, engagement, claims, and / or absences.  And many employees are at risk: current research tells us that one in two working Canadians has a chronic health condition[1].

It is clear then that helping employees plan for the future means not only helping them to save money, but helping them to get - or stay - healthy. And the rewards of doing so are tangible; initial data from the Sun Life-Ivey ROI study shows that employee wellness programs save about 1.5 to 1.7 days in absenteeism per worker over 12 months, or an estimated $251 per employee per year.

Sun Life’s ‘whole health’ approach to wellness emphasizes optimal physical and psychological health. It’s an approach that can keep employees healthy and engaged at work until it’s the right time to retire. Here are some ways we can help:

  • The Sun Life HealthySTART program helps you develop a successful, data-driven employee health strategy.  Our wellness experts provide you with a complete assessment of the health issues facing your organization and detailed guidance and recommendations for targeting identified risks.


  • Our Health and Wellness services help employees learn about their health risks and make healthy lifestyle choices that can prevent or control conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Sun Life’s health and wellness experts will lead a best practice implementation of initiatives like screening clinics, health challenges, and education sessions.


  • Sun Life’s solutions for mental health in the workplace help you address this health condition that affects one in five Canadians every year[2]. From organizational assessment to manager training and employee stress management, we can support you at all levels.

For more key findings and results on the 2014 Sun Life Canadian Health Index, visit For more information on healthy living and financial planning, visit

About the Sun Life Canadian Health Index survey

The Sun Life Canadian Health Index measures the attitudes of Canadians towards healthy lifestyles and reports these in the form of an index.

The fifth annual Sun Life Canadian Health Index is based on the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between June 19 to July 2, 2014. A sample of 2,799 Canadians from 18 to 80 years of age from the Ipsos Canadian panel was interviewed online.

Ipsos employed weighting to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe.

The precision of Ipsos online surveys is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the survey is accurate to within + 2.1% at 95% Confidence Level had all Canadian adults been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to methodological change, coverage error and measurement error.                                                          


Please contact your Client Service Administrator at 1-877-786-7227.

[1] The 2014 Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey

[2] Smetanin et al. (2011). The life and economic impact of major mental illnesses in Canada: