New Democrat Leader Jack Layton says an elected NDP government would double the Canada Pension Plan benefits that Canadians receive and provide $700 million annually to help low-income seniors.

Layton told an audience in Toronto Monday that the CPP has long been neglected by Ottawa, which has eroded the retirement security of millions of Canadians.

To remedy this issue, Layton said an elected NDP government would immediately work with the provinces to double CPP and QPP benefits. But he would allow Canadians to "prop up" their CPP savings with their personal income.

"This would be a low-cost, guaranteed alternative to Canadians fed up with the high mutual management fees and who want a more stable option when it comes to retirement investment," Layton said.

The NDP believes that doubling CPP and QPP benefits could require a 2.5 per cent increase in payroll deductions.

Layton also pledged to add $700 million to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to help out seniors in the lowest income brackets.

The move would help "lift every Canadian senior out of poverty," he said.

Layton had pressured the Conservatives to include such a measure in their March budget. But the Tories offered GIS amendments that provided single, low-income seniors with up to $600 in benefits and couples $840.

The Liberals have pledged to extend the GIS by the same amount of money as the NDP.

The NDP would also change bankruptcy laws to protect pensioners and those on long-term disability when their employer declares bankruptcy.

Layton said that if elected as prime minister, "Canadians can count on me to strengthen their pensions and retirement security."

Later in the day, Layton is scheduled to make an appearance in London, Ont., in a riding where an NDP candidate recently resigned and endorsed the local Liberal candidate.

With files from The Canadian Press