The Sun Life Financial 2012 Canadian Unretirement Index is based on the results of an Ipsos Reid poll of 3,701 working Canadians aged 30 to 65. It also found 48% of Canadians plan to phase in their retirement by working part-time or freelance.

Among Canadians who expect to work past the traditional retirement age of 65, 61% say they plan to work because they need to and only 39% say it’s because they want to.

Of those planning to phase in their retirement:

  • 21% plan to start the process between age 50 and 59.
  • 43% plan to start the process between age 60 and 65.
  • 8% plan to start the process between age 66 and 70.

"Interest in phased retirement has been growing over the past few years,” says Ian Markham, Canadian Retirement Innovation Leader with the professional services firm Towers Watson. "Baby boomers are looking at it as a way to prolong their careers, pay off some debts and make a smooth transition into retirement. Having additional income during this transition creates an additional financial safety net for Canadians – which we're seeing as increasingly important in today's economy."

Consumer debt is having an impact on retirement planning:

  • 47% are worried about debt in retirement.
  • 44% say paying down debt is their number one financial priority.
  • 20% say their number one financial priority is saving for retirement.

The good news is Canadians are also living longer. According to Statistics Canada, the average life expectancy for Canadians at age 65 is 20 years, with women living even longer than men. Stats Can also predicts that 17,000 Canadians could reach age 100 by the early 2030s.

"Canadians are living better and working longer,” said Moses Znaimer, President of CARP, Canada’s 350,000-member association for A New Vision Of Aging. “It’s no secret that my mantra has long been, ‘The best way to keep going is to keep going.’ For Zoomers, working past the traditional age of retirement can be both personally beneficial and financially necessary.”