As RRSP season heats up and the sales pitches from banks and financial firms intensify, so does the barrage of statistics and surveys pointing to Canadians' abysmal record when it comes to setting money aside for retirement.

The average Canadian household owes about $1.65 for every $1 in disposable income, a record-high level of debt; in 2010, Canadians contributed only five per cent of what they could have contributed to their RRSPs; the average balance in a tax-free savings account was only $7,400 in 2012 even though account holders could have contributed up to $25,500 since the accounts were first introduced. 

Why is it that Canadians are not saving as much as they could be, and for those who want to save more, what are the best ways to go about doing that? Are RRSPs the answer for everybody, or are there alternatives that might work better for certain demographics, such as low-income Canadians.

CBC News: The National assembled its panel of financial experts to answer these and other questions related to retirement planning. Watch what the Bottom Line panel had to say in the video segment above.

The panel includes:

  • Patti Croft, an independent economic analyst.
  • Jim Stanford, an economist with the Canadian Auto Workers union.
  • Preet Banerjee, a freelance business writer and broadcaster.
  • Amanda Lang, senior business correspondent for CBC News and co-host of the Lang & O'Leary Exchange.