The CEO Poll: Forward looking

The CEOs on pensions, retirement and working later in life.

Business leaders give the federal mini-budget high marks.

The Canada Pension Plan is an inadequate retirement tool for the average Canadian, and public-sector pensions are unfairly generous compared to their private-sector counterparts, according to a poll of Canadian CEOs conducted by COMPAS Inc.

The 113 respondents offered their views on a host of retirement issues, including when they plan to retire and the benefits of keeping older workers in the labour force. When it comes to pensions, the CEOs deemed the CPP to be insufficient for retirement, awarding it a mean grade of just 40 out of 100 for its effectiveness. The respondents were also critical of public-sector pension plans, with a majority arguing the pensions were so fat compared to the options for other Canadians that a special commission should be created to roll back the provisions.

“There is no long-term accountability in the public sector, so the pensions and benefits can be allowed to balloon out of control,” according to one respondent. Argued another: “Public-sector plans should be converted to defined-contribution plans to relieve those of us on our own private-sector defined-contributions plans from the burden of taking the investment risk for the public sector.”

Beyond the pension issue, the CEOs believed that employees who work past the typical retirement age can be beneficial for a company because of their knowledge, experience and ability to mentor younger staff.

“I’m 80 and spent all April in China getting business,” wrote one respondent.

Perhaps the business leaders’ attitude toward older workers has to do with their own retirement plans — many expect to retire a few years later than originally anticipated. Twenty years ago, the CEOs thought they would retire at age 62. Now it’s 66. For some, it could be even later: “I have accepted the fact that I will probably die on the job.”