Employment Insurance Extension To Self-Employed Canadians Comes Into Effect

Represents One Of The Most Significant Enhancements To The EI Program In A Decade

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®, 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.

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Updated  Feb 01, 2010    Written by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

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