This is one of the most common questions employers ask. There are a few different ways to answer it.

  • How much can you afford? This is a question for you and your finance team to work out. One way to increase your contribution within budget is to take some of your initial retirement plan contribution from the salary pool. Recent surveys have shown that a majority of Canadians would accept a lower salary in exchange for a good workplace retirement plan.1

  • How much is enough for employees to retire? While this depends on a variety of factors, most Canadians need to save somewhere between 10-20% of their pay to be able to maintain their standard of living in retirement – assuming they are saving in a good plan. If your team’s average earnings are close to the Canadian average (a little over $50,000), then an employer match of 5% would give most of them a good chance of being retirement-ready, assuming that they save this amount consistently throughout their career. As provider of the Common Good Plan, Common Wealth Retirement provides each of your employees with personalized guidance about how much to save to achieve their retirement goals.

  • How much are peers/competitors contributing? Sun Life reports that among the minority of employers with under 100 employees that offer a plan, the average member contribution is $3,535 per year and the average sponsor contribution is $3,065 per year.2 However, the amount can vary widely by industry and sector, so it can be useful to check with peers to see what they are doing.

You can learn more about choosing a group retirement plan by downloading our guide for HR leaders.


1 Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, “Research finds Canadians choose greater retirement security over more pay” (September 29, 2020).
2 Sun Life, “Designed for Savings 2019: The benchmark report on capital accumulation plans in Canada” (2019). These figures are based on Sun Life provided plans only.

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