New Study Reveals Alarming Gap in Canadians’ Understanding of Paycheque Details


With approximately $971 billion in annual wages and benefits paid to Canadians, errors and discrepancies are bound to happen. According to new research commissioned by Payments Canada, many working Canadians do not feel well-equipped to understand their pay statements.

Key findings of the research:

  • 47% pay more attention to social media than pay details
  • 35% find reviewing their pay information discouraging
  • 34% only focus on payment details when it’s time to file their taxes
  • 23% would feel uncomfortable asking their employer to explain income details on their pay statement
  • 31% say they are interested in ‘payment on demand’ 

(Source: Payments Canada)

Many people experience financial anxiety when reviewing their employee payment information. Still, the prospect of asking their employer to explain their pay statement is uncomfortable or embarrassing. That fear and anxiety can lead to credit issues and credit cards misuses.

From June 30 to July 6, 2022, Angus Reid Forum conducted an online survey on behalf of Payments Canada among a nationally representative sample of 1,503 full-time and part-time employed Canadians, balanced and weighted by age, gender, and region. The newly released research reveals several trends and insights about how employed Canadians receive their paycheques and how they interpret their pay.

“We continue to see new technologies influencing how Canadians pay and get paid,” said Kristina Logue, Payments Canada’s Chief Financial Officer. “The majority of Canadians are now paid electronically via direct deposit. As a result, many Canadians are silently struggling to decipher their pay details. They are hoping for the best in terms of accuracy. This situation provides an opportunity for employers to assist employees in better understanding their paycheque.”

Social media is more important than Canadians’ paycheques

Despite the importance of their income details, many employees do not always prioritize paying attention to each pay statement. Almost half of Canadians say they pay more attention to the whether and their social media channels than to the details of their pay statements.

When asked about changing how they are paid by their employer, working Canadians said the most important factor was for employers to better explain the details on their pay statements and how the income and various deductions work.

Employees also mention having all of their financial information centralized and secure for easy access and receiving payments more frequently. Having said that, roughly three-in-five working Canadians would not change anything and are generally pleased with how and when they receive their paycheques.

On-demand payments

The study reveals that a third of Canadians are interested in an on-demand payment system. On-demand pay is an emerging pay platform.

With on-demand pay, workers can access a portion of their wages as work has been accumulated, versus needing to wait until payday. Currently, only three percent of employed Canadians report that they are using an on-demand payment system.

“Understanding payroll details is difficult. Most of us do not learn about it in school,” Logue stated. “But now, more than ever, we have technology that allows us to more easily access pay-related information. Without a doubt, we will continue to see innovations in this space. Nonetheless, it is critical that Canadians feel empowered to understand how their income and deductions work on their paycheque – regardless of how they receive it.”

Otis De Marie is a journalist with a diverse portfolio covering business, technology, artificial intelligence, and personal finance. After studying creative literature at the Amsterdam International Community School, Otis has contributed to several notable publications including Brussels Morning, The Brussels Times, Hardbacon, and WallStreetWindow.