The union that represents NHL players doesn't want its members who play for the Toronto Maple Leafs or Ottawa Senators to be forced to pay into Ontario's new provincial pension plan.

NHL players, whose average salary is about $2.5 million US, already have a generous pension plan and Ontario workers who have what the government considers a "comparable workplace pension" can apply for exceptions to the new Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.

The problem is the NHL's plan is set up under U.S. law, which could make it harder to qualify for the exemption.

"On behalf of the NHL Players Retirement plan, outside counsel are simply alerting the Ontario government that NHL Players have a league-wide pension plan," said Jonathan Weatherdon of the NHL Players' Association.

"The legislation already contemplates exemptions for workers who have existing plans in place. This is simply having the government recognize the players' plan that is registered outside of Ontario."

The NHLPA also points out that the ORPP was created for workers not already covered by a workplace pension plan. 

ORPP coming in 2018

Without an exemption, NHL players in Ontario and the teams that employ them would have to make matching payroll contributions to the ORPP of 1.9 per cent on income up to the first $90,000.

The final version of the ORPP hasn't been released. Last month, the government announced it was pushing back the rollout date to 2018 in order to give businesses time to prepare and adjust.

MPP Mitzie Hunter, the minister in charge of the pension plan, said NHL teams would have to go through a verification process to get an exemption, just like any other employer.

"We're going to ensure there's a verification of each of the companies, understanding whether or not they're offering a comparable workplace pension plan," she said.

Players for the NBA's Toronto Raptors and MLB's Toronto Blue Jays have not yet applied for an ORPP exception. 

With files from Mike Crawley