TORONTO - The CEO of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan says pension reform will be the defining issue in the next federal election.

He says an aging population and the current financial crisis have brought the issue to the forefront of many people's minds.

Leech told a luncheon meeting of the Empire Club that rules for defined-benefit plans need to be revisited so companies can afford to keep up with their payments even in tough economic times.

And he called on the federal government to create a plan that would provide support to Canadians who don't have a pension plan through their employers.

Many employers have found themselves unable to top up their defined benefit pension plans after the value of their assets were driven down by low stock prices and bond interest rates.

And many Canadians without employee-sponsored pensions have been forced to postpone retirement.

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