While Canada's economy may be performing well in comparison to other countries, that hasn't necessarily translated into optimism.

According to the Royal Bank of Canada's Consumer Outlook Index, less than one-third of Canadians - 32 per cent - express positivity about the domestic economic situation faring favourably in 2012. That's down from 43 per cent who expressed confidence about the year ahead in January 2011 and 56 per cent in 2010.

Similarly, just 36 per cent believe their own financial situations will improve in 2012, declining from 38 per cent last year and 45 per cent in 2010.

Despite Canadians' pessimism about the country's and their own personal fiscal situations, many are taking action to improve their financial status. For instance, the RBC poll found that nearly one-third intend to focus on reducing their personal expenses in 2012 - such as lowering their credit card debt - and nearly one in four said they anticipate saving more in the coming year.

Dave McKay, group head of RBC's banking division, said this is a positive sign.

"We're encouraged to see that Canadians are trying to find ways to manage their finances," said McKay. "Reducing debt is a very good goal, but having money set aside for something unforeseen is also important. Sitting down with a financial planner to ensure you balance day-to-day-costs with growing your savings and planning for the unexpected should be part of your complete financial plan."

Part of the reason why Canadians may be heightening their focus on finances may have something to do with their employment concerns. The poll found that job stress has elevated slightly, rising from 20 per cent last year to 21 per cent in 2010. In fact, Canadians are so intent about keeping their jobs, 30 per cent said they'd be willing to move to another part of the country if that was required of them. Many more Canadians are also planning to telecommute more frequently.

Individuals' willingness to work may also help explain why so many Canadians expect to work beyond the age of retirement.

According to human resources provider Randstad Canada, which recently conducted a survey among employees from 29 different countries around the world, more than half of Canadian employees anticipate working well into their retirement years. Furthermore, they're relatively happy to do so. Meanwhile, just 32 per cent of Canadian employees said they suspect they'll leave the workforce before their mid-60s.

Canadians' desire to work into and beyond their retirement years is shared by employees from other countries as well. For example, Randstad Canada reports that in India, Mexico and Singapore, 70 per cent of employees said they'll work beyond retirement and expect to be content about it. That's not the case among employees from several European countries, however. Less than 30 per cent of workers from France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands said they would be happy about working after retirement.

Back to top