Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

December 16, 2009 14:10 ET

Fairness for the Self-Employed Act Passed by Parliament

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 16, 2009) - The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, is pleased that Bill C-56, the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act, has received Royal Assent. The legislation extends Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits, which are maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits, to the self-employed on a voluntary basis.

"Thanks to this new initiative, self-employed Canadians will no longer have to choose between their family and their business responsibilities," said Minister Finley. "It is good family policy, and it represents one of the most significant enhancements to the EI program in the last decade."

The new measure responds to the Government's 2008 pledge to help provide improved economic security and support for all those who are self-employed. Self-employed Canadians who choose to take advantage of EI special benefits will be required to opt into the program at least one year prior to claiming benefits, and will be responsible for making premium payments for the tax year in which they apply to the program. Subject to final approvals of regulations, they will be able to voluntarily opt into the EI program effective January 31, 2010, and as a transitional measure those who register on or before April 1, 2010, will be able to collect benefits as early as January 1, 2011. Special benefits provided to self-employed individuals will mirror those currently available to salaried employees under the EI program.

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.

"The self-employed have previously had little or no income protection to cope with major life events such as giving birth, caring for a newborn or newly adopted child, being sick or injured, or caring for a gravely ill family member," added Minister Finley. "This government is now pleased to be providing these Canadians with greater peace of mind with respect to their future financial security."

This measure demonstrates that the Government continues to make responsive and responsible choices to support Canadians through the EI program. It is just the latest in a series of improvements the Government has already made.

This news release is available in alternative formats on request.

Contact Information

  • Office of Minister Finley
    Michelle Bakos
    Press Secretary
    Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
    Media Relations Office