The survey of 3,500 workers was conducted between June and August among a broad range of business and industry sectors.
The number of people living check to check who said they would "be in financial difficulty if their pay was delayed by even a week" was down from 57 percent in a similar survey a year ago, the association said.
The rate of people living "close to the line" varied widely by province. The highest rate was in the Maritimes, where 54 percent relied on timely paychecks. Ontario was a close second at 52 percent, while Quebec was lowest with 33 percent.
The CPA said there was encouraging signs in savings habits.
"While only 40 percent of employees trying to save more were able to do so last year, this increased dramatically to 66 percent in 2012," the association said.
The survey had a 1.6 percent margin of error, the release said.