TORONTO - A report from a prominent think tank says Canada's parliamentarians are facing even graver pension woes than the rest of the country.

The C.D. Howe Institute says the pension plan that secures retirement benefits for members of parliament and senators is underfunded by up to $1 billion.

The report says the plan provides MP's with more than 50 per cent of their six-figure salary, but has no assets set aside to pay for those future benefits.

The Institute says the funding shortfall is at odds with actuarial reports on the plan, which say it has an excess of $176 million.

The institute says the deficit could expose tax-payers to greater financial risks if the pension plan ultimately fails.

It suggests the Federal government should address the problem by raising MP's current wages in exchange for lower retirement benefits.

"When the time comes to pay cash to retiring MPs, Ottawa has to raise it at that time -- by taxing more, spending less elsewhere, or borrowing," the institute said in its report.

Such a fix, the report said, would allow MP's to set retirement funds aside in registered plans without delving as deeply into the public purse.

The institute's plea for reform echoed a similar call issued Wednesday by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which exhorted MP's to surrender their pension plan and adopt a more modest system.

The federation contends the existing plan is the best-funded in the world, but lamented that taxpayers foot the bill for most of its perks at a rate of $23.3 for every dollar contributed by an MP.

The federation called on MPs to set up a new program in which government matches their payments on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

"There's no way the prime minister and these MPs can do what they need to do to balance the budget and control spending if they've got their own snouts in the pension trough," federation federal director Gregory Thomas said. "They need to lead by example. They need to put Canada ahead of their own personal bank balance."