Retirement planning News and updates

Future retirees: To retire or not to retire?

Many education sector workers in Canada may feel ready to retire from their current roles. Still, they are not ready to stop working, according to RTOERO’s 2024 Future Retirees Survey findings

“The notion of retirement is changing. With aging populations and increasing life expectancy, older workers are continuing to work past the traditional retirement age—either by necessity or choice,” explains Martha Foster, chair of RTOERO, “This is an opportunity for education organizations, especially in a time of staffing challenges. See older workers as an asset. Consider their unique needs and perspectives. And design workplaces to be supportive and multigenerational.”

RTOERO has surveyed future retirees from the education sector for the past three years. The 2024 survey includes findings from 1,300 education sector workers, the majority within five years of retirement. The survey results offer a glimpse into people’s perceptions of their preparedness for retirement, the types of information they seek, and the various factors impacting their retirement plans.


  • Over half of the respondents plan to work part- or full-time in retirement, which is consistent with the results from our 2023 survey. 
  • A third of respondents are considering or have decided to retire sooner than planned. The top two factors influencing the decision are working conditions and health/mental health.
  • Just over a quarter of respondents are considering or have decided to delay their retirement. The top factor influencing the decision is economy/inflation.
  • About one in five respondents have experienced ageism in the workplace.
  • When it comes to seeking financial advice, financial planners are the top source.

Who responded

The survey was sent to education sector workers across Canada who subscribe to RTOERO’s email list. Of the 1334 respondents, 49% are classroom teachers, and 29% are school or school board administrators. Most are within five years of retirement, and the majority live in Ontario.

Classroom teacher – 49%
Administrator in a school or school board – 29%
School or school board staff (e.g. business, admin, support staff) – 9%
Post-secondary faculty and staff – 4%

Other respondents were from early years, public service and non-profit associations.

Time to retirement

Retiring within the next 12 months – 34%
1 to 5 years – 55%
6 to 10 years – 9%

Working in retirement

More than half of survey respondents indicated their intention to stay engaged in work during retirement. This decision offers several advantages, such as maintaining social connections, using and developing skills, and enhancing financial stability.

“One of the trends we’re watching with the future of aging is the changing workforce,” says Jim Grieve, CEO of RTOERO. Over the next decade, we’ll see a shift in how many organizations approach the aging workforce. Those that embrace this reality as an opportunity will provide flexible options for older workers, creating a win-win situation.”

The future of work is one of the topics in focus at RTOERO’s upcoming Future of Aging Summit, which will be held from May 15 to 17 in Toronto. Shruti Singh, senior economist in the Skills and Employment Division of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, will discuss employment and workforce participation.

Plans to work in retirement

We asked respondents to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “I plan to continue to work full-time or part-time in retirement.”

Strongly agree – 18%
Agree – 37%
Neutral – 19%
Disagree – 10%
Strongly disagree – 11%
I don’t know/haven’t thought about it – 5%

“I would very much like to not have to work. But I want to make sure that I’m not struggling in retirement financially.”

“I would like to explore something new, and with flexibility to allow me to also travel and take care of myself.”

“I would like to work less and be less responsible. The responsibility of being a principal weighs me down.”

Working conditions, health and economy among factors affecting retirement timing

Even though work is on the horizon for many future retirees, it’s not necessarily in their current roles. We ask respondents about which factors are influencing their timing of retirement.

Factors influencing timing of retirement

Working conditions – 48%
Health/mental health – 40%
Economy/inflation – 34%
Caregiving for loved ones – 17%
None of the above – 17%
COVID-19 pandemic – 5%

Changes to retirement timeline

About one-third of respondents are considering or have decided to retire sooner than planned; the top two factors for retiring sooner were working conditions (72%) and health/mental health (52%). 

Just over a quarter of respondents are considering or have decided to delay their retirement. The top reason for delaying retirement was economy/inflation (68%).

Considering retiring sooner – 21%
Decided to retire sooner – 13%
Considering delaying – 15%
Decided to delay – 13%
No change – 32%

“I consistently delay retiring; work is too much fun.”

“I delayed my retirement plans by three years – however – if my working conditions had flexibility with time away, I would retire later.”

“I am eligible to retire but I want to better understand my options of continuing to work, whether in education or outside.”

Retirement by design

Retirement offers an opportunity to explore new activities and experiences. When asked to share one word or phrase that comes to mind when they think of retirement, respondents overwhelmingly associated it with “freedom”.

Notes Foster, “Individuals nearing retirement hold predominantly optimistic perspectives regarding their future. This aligns with our understanding of retirees, as their happiness tends to increase throughout their retirement.”

Flight risks and architects

When it comes to preparing for retirement, some prefer careful planning and certainty, while others lean towards spontaneity and impulsivity. We asked which approach resonates most with our respondents.

Architect – I’ll go when I’m ready! – 33%
Flight risk – I’m outta here as soon as I can manage it! – 33%
Contributor – I’m enjoying my career too much to consider retirement yet! 9%
Procrastinator – I’m putting off thinking about it! – 8%
Pessimist – I can’t leave! 2%

“I enjoyed my job but want more time for me instead of my students coming first.”

“I was a procrastinator until this year, now I’m a flight risk.”

“I enjoy what I do, so should I retire? If I collect a pension, how much will I need to make in my other career to live comfortably?”

Retirement readiness

Financial planning is typically what comes to mind when people think about retirement planning. And while it’s just one part of retirement planning, there’s no denying its importance. However, it’s also crucial to recognize the significance of emotional preparation for retirement, as adjusting to this new phase of life can be just as impactful as financial readiness.

How financially prepared do you feel?

I’m ready – 17%
Almost prepared – 28%
I’ve done some things to prepare – 32%
I’m just starting to think about it – 14%
Not at all prepared – 8%

Top sources of financial advice

Financial planner/advisor – 60%
Friends or colleagues – 39%
Credit union/bank – 23%
Accountant – 15%
Google searches – 12% 

Emotional preparedness for retirement

I’m ready 32%
Almost prepared 24%
I’ve done some things to prepare 21%
I’m just starting to think about it 17%
Not at all prepared 5%

“This is a tough question for me because I am not sure if you ever really know how prepared you are until you actually retire!”

Ageism exists in the education sector

One-fifth of respondents indicated they have experienced ageism in the workplace. Ageism is stereotypes (thoughts), prejudice (feelings) or discrimination (actions) on the grounds of a person’s age. Ageism in the workplace can include institutional ageism, which refers to policies, practices, social norms, and other systemic structures that restrict opportunities or disadvantage people based on age. It can also include interpersonal ageism, which happens in relationships between groups of two or more people, such as a staff. 

We asked respondents to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “I have experienced ageism in the workplace.”

Strongly agree – 6%
Agree – 14%
Neutral – 17%
Disagree – 28%
Strongly disagree – 30%

“I was a learning resource teacher for 10 years when a new administrator arrived. My job was changed to primary PE, and part of the rationale given was, ‘You haven’t got that long to go.’”

“Ageism is a form of judgement that has no place in any career. The longer someone spends in any field, the more experienced, efficient and valuable they become.”

“Some assume I’m no longer interested in professional development and learning. Also, some people think that because it’s my last year, I don’t care anymore and should be counting down the days.”

Love of learning

Workers nearing retirement continue to be interested in learning opportunities. Their topics of interest align with the survey findings that many respondents plan to work in retirement – and that their wellbeing at work is a factor in their retirement planning. 

“An ageist perspective would be that older workers either cannot be taught anything new or do not desire to learn,” notes Grieve. “Our respondents debunk that myth—the love of learning does not stop as we age.”

Career topics of interest

The top three career topics of interest remained from 2023 to 2024, but navigating a career transition increased by 4%. 
Personal growth/learning – 44%
Navigating a career transition – 43%
Wellbeing at work – 39%

Top 5 retirement planning topics

Health insurance options – 70%
Practical “to-do” tasks to prepare for retirement – 65%
Travel – 56%
Ways to save money – 54%
Retirement financial planning – 53%

Next steps

Education employers

  • Read our article about how to help employees prepare for retirement and why you should.
    • Review your current employee support process for retirement and tackle any quick wins.
    • Is the information easy to find?
    • Is the process clearly laid out?
    • Are you showcasing the different options employees have for retirement insurance?
    • Are you clearly explaining the process for working in retirement? (Tip: this is critical if you’re dealing with staffing challenges – make the process clear and simple and people are more likely to do it).
    • What learning opportunities are you offering to employees?
  • Attend the Future of Aging Summit from May 15 to 17 in Toronto to explore the impact of the aging population on employment and the workforce.
  • Connect with RTOERO if you need support with your process. You can request a customized retirement planning workshop for your organization, and we can also provide template articles to help you with staff communication about retirement. Email our marketing and communications team at [email protected].

Retiring in the next year

Retiring in the next 1 to 5 years

Retiring in 6+ years

  • Join RTOERO today. Membership is free until you retire or join our Entente Group Insurance Program. One of the most popular perks of membership with Venngo MemberPerks to help you save on purchases you’ll make anyway, including shoes, apparel, restaurants, services and more.
  • Consider getting a financial planner, if you don’t have one already. You have time to review your finances and make adjustments to help you get retirement ready. Learn more.

Working in education but without benefits

Some of our members are contract or casual employees in education and don’t have insurance coverage through work. Or, their employment may be ending before their retirement date because of layoffs. If you’re dealing with either of these situations, we may be able to help. Learn more about our insurance while you’re working.


RTOERO is a bilingual trusted voice on healthy, active living in the retirement journey for the broader education community. With 84,000+ members in 51 districts across Canada, we are the largest national provider of non-profit group health benefits for education workers and retirees. We welcome members who work in or are retired from the early years, schools and school boards, post-secondary and any other capacity in education. We believe in a better future, together!

Your membership is free until you retire or join our Entente Group Insurance Program. Sign up today.