The federal government is launching a cross-country tour to discuss the potential for pooled registered pension plans as another option to help Canadians save for retirement.

The plans would give small businesses and self-employed people more resources to set up retirement programs for employees by allowing employers to pool money with other employers.

Finance ministers first agreed to examine the potential for the plans, called PRPPs at a December 2009 meeting on pensions in Whitehorse, as part of a report that noted Canadians may not be saving enough for their retirement.

Pooled plans would be managed by a regulated financial institution, which would decrease the cost for a small employer.

The government has said a high level of regulatory harmonization across federal and provincial governments will be required to increase the scale of such plans.

Potential tax changes to accommodate those plans would be developed and implemented by the federal government.

The plan would be a big boost for banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions, who stand to gain new business. Many of them have been proponents of the creation.

Critics say pooled plans would leave out too many people because contributions would be voluntary.