Canada's Economic Action Plan

Canada's Economic Action Plan

February 01, 2010 09:23 ET

Employment Insurance Extension to Self-Employed Canadians Comes Into Effect

Represents one of the most significant enhancements to the EI program in a decade

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 1, 2010) - As of January 31, self-employed Canadians are able to register for the Employment Insurance (EI) program, which will extend to them maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits, collectively called special benefits.

The Honourable Rob Moore, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism), on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, made the announcement today at the office of the Canadian Real Estate Association in Ottawa.

"Through Canada's Economic Action Plan, our government expanded the Employment Insurance program to give self-employed Canadians access to special benefits because it was the fair and right thing to do," said Minister of State Moore. "Families are the foundation of our great country. Our government believes that self-employed Canadians should not have to choose between their family and their business responsibilities."

The Fairness for the Self-Employed Act extends EI special benefits to self-employed Canadians. This measure responds to the Government's 2008 pledge to help provide improved economic security and support for all those who are self-employed. With these changes, self-employed Canadians will be able to voluntarily opt into the EI program and receive special benefits. Overall, the special benefits for self-employed individuals mirror those currently available to salaried employees under the EI program.

"From coast to coast to coast, a large majority of our members are self-employed," said Mr. Pierre Beauchamp, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Real Estate Association. "This initiative levels the Employment Insurance playing field for REALTORS(R), and by extension, improves family life, strengthens communities and gives piece of mind to the thousands of real estate professionals who help make home ownership a reality for millions of Canadians."

Self-employed Canadians can register for access to the EI program online as of January 31, and will be able to register in person at a Service Canada Centre beginning February 1. Those who choose to take advantage of EI special benefits will be required to register at least one year prior to claiming benefits. However, as a transitional measure in this first year, those who register on or before April 1, 2010, will be able to make a claim for benefits as early as January 1, 2011.

Self-employed residents of Quebec will continue to receive maternity and parental benefits through the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan provided by the Government of Quebec. In addition, they will now be eligible to take advantage of sickness and compassionate care benefits offered by the Government of Canada through the EI program.

This measure is part of the Government's commitment to make responsive and responsible choices to support Canadians through the EI program.

"Our government is helping Canadians who have previously had little or no income protection to cope with major life events. Our government has listened and has delivered results for self-employed Canadians who are an integral part of our economy and economic recovery," said Minister of State Moore.

EI for the self-employed is the latest in a series of improvements that the Government has made to the program. In November, the Government extended the length of time long-tenured workers can receive regular EI benefits.

To help those hardest hit by the economic downturn, the Government has undertaken other measures through Canada's Economic Action Plan, including providing longer EI benefits, more efficient service and support for training, and protecting jobs through Work-Sharing agreements. The Government has also frozen EI premiums for 2010 at the same rate as 2009.

For more information, visit www.servicecanada.gc.ca/self_employed_workers.

This news release is available in alternative formats on request.

BACKGROUNDER

Beginning in January 2011, self-employed Canadians will be able to access Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits. There are four types of EI special benefits:

- maternity benefits;

- parental benefits;

- sickness benefits; and

- compassionate care benefits.

Eligibility information

You may be eligible to access EI special benefits beginning in January 2011 if you:

- are a self-employed person; and

- are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada; and

- have entered into an agreement with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission through Service Canada.

Application information

As a self-employed person, you will be able to enter into an agreement with the Commission through Service Canada starting on January 31, 2010. To enter into an agreement with the Commission, you will have to register online using My Service Canada Account anywhere you can access the Internet, including at a Service Canada Centre near you.

By entering into this agreement, you will confirm your interest in participating in this measure and in paying EI premiums on your self-employment income.

Please note that if you have previously used My Service Canada Account, you can register using your existing user code and password.

If you have not previously used My Service Canada Account, you can apply at any time for a personal access code on the My Service Canada Account Web page. Once you apply, it will take about 10 days to receive your personal access code in the mail.

Dates and deadlines

Self-employed persons will be able to enter into an agreement beginning January 31, 2010.

If you enter into an agreement between January 31, 2010, and April 1, 2010, you will be able to make a claim for EI special benefits as early as January 2011. However, if you enter into an agreement with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission after April 1, 2010, you will have to wait 12 months before you will be able to make a claim for EI special benefits.

Self-employed residents of Quebec will continue to receive maternity and parental benefits through the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan provided by the Government of Quebec. In addition, they will now be eligible to take advantage of the sickness and compassionate care benefits being offered by the Government of Canada through EI. Should they choose to take advantage of the program, they would pay EI premiums at the same rates as employees in Quebec, where rates have already been adjusted downward to take into account the existence of a provincial maternity and parental benefit plan.

Further information on this measure is available at www.servicecanada.gc.ca.

Contact Information

  • Office of Minister Finley
    Michelle Bakos
    Press Secretary
    819-994-2482
    or
    Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
    Media Relations Office
    819-994-5559