Far fewer Canadians expect to be retired at age 66 compared to 2008 when the global economic crisis hit, according to a new survey, which also found that more Canadians need, rather than want, to keep working.

The findings, from Sun Life Financial’s annual Canadian Unretirement Index, show that the number of Canadians who expect to be living the retired life at age 66 has dropped by nearly half between 2008 and 2012, from 51 per cent to 27 per cent.

The number of people who think they will be working full-time at age 66 rose 10 per cent to 26 per cent between 2008 and 2012. As well, 32 per cent of survey respondents said they expect to be working part-time at age 66.

The survey also found that of those who said they expect to be working, 63 per cent said it is because they need to, up 10 per cent from 2009, while 37 per cent said it is because they want to, down from 47 per cent.

Sun Life Financial Canada president Kevin Dougherty said the findings are caused in part by the fact that the financial crisis had a serious impact on Canadian household balance sheets.

“The low-interest environment for sure has had an impact on people's savings and projections, Dougherty told The Canadian Press. “But really the realization is that people are living longer and longer.”

Back in 2008 and 2009, more Canadians said they would work past the age of 65 because they enjoy their jobs and wish to stay mentally active. However, since 2010, the top reason given for working past 65 has been in order to “earn enough money to pay basic living expenses.”

The survey found that six in 10 Canadians are expecting to retire with less than $250,000 in savings, while 38 per cent will retire with less than $100,000 saved. Only one-third of respondents said they were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their retirement savings. Nearly four-in-ten respondents said there was a “serious risk” they will outlive their retirement savings.

The findings were based on a poll conducted by Ipsos Reid between Nov. 29 and Dec. 6, 2012. The firm conducted online interviews with a sample of 3,017 employed Canadians between the ages of 30 and 65.

The survey is said to be accurate to within plus or minus two percentage points.