The Ontario government says it will enhance protection for pension plans in the province, part of a move to harmonize regulation across Canada.
Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said Wednesday the province plans to reform its pension laws in two stages, beginning with legislation next month and again next year that will focus on provincially regulated pension funds. He is also pressing Ottawa to work with all the provinces on measures to help the majority of Ontarians who have no pension plan.
"We are trying to bring greater consistency to pension regulation across the country," Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told reporters Wednesday. "I think when the process is complete, you will see a much more harmonized system of pension regulation across the country."
Mr. Duncan would not provide details on the proposed reforms to pension laws, the first in more than two decades. But one day after Ottawa unveiled its own enhancements focused on federally regulated funds, he said Ontario has a responsibility to act as well.
The majority of private-sector pension plans are provincially regulated.
Mr. Duncan criticized the Harper government for confining its reforms to federally regulated funds and not addressing the millions of Canadians who have no pension plan at all.
At a meeting of Canada's finance ministers last May, Mr. Duncan pushed for a national summit on pensions, asking Ottawa to take a leading role in a debate over whether governments need to take steps to help Canadians' bolster their retirement nest eggs.
"It's not just about pensions," Mr. Duncan said. "It's about post retirement income. That's what the federal government needs to be talking about."
The Ontario government also followed Ottawa last December in providing temporary relief for corporate pension plans, giving plan sponsors an extra five years to repay their funding shortfalls. Before then, companies had five years to make up shortfalls when their pension assets fall below the level of their pension obligations.