As a self-employed individual, your contribution to Canada's economy is important. Everybody wins when you choose to enjoy the benefits of creative freedom, the challenge and the self-satisfaction that often comes with self-employment.

It has no doubt crossed your mind that the lack of financial security can make self-employment less appealing. To encourage self-employment, the Government of Canada hopes to tackle at least some deterrents by introducing the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act.

Through the proposed legislation (the Act), you, as a self-employed Canadian, could choose to participate in the employment insurance (EI) program and become eligible for the same special benefits currently available to salaried employees. This includes:

  • Maternity benefits (15 weeks maximum), which are available to birth mothers and cover the period surrounding birth (a claim can start up to 8 weeks before the expected birth date);
  • Parental/adoptive benefits (35 weeks maximum), which are available to biological or adoptive parents while they are caring for a newborn or newly adopted child, and may be taken by either parent or shared between them (if parents choose to share these benefits, only one waiting period must be served);
  • Sickness benefits (15 weeks maximum), which may be paid to a person who is unable to work because of sickness, injury or quarantine; and
  • Compassionate care benefits (6 weeks maximum), which may be paid to persons who need to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death.

Quebec Residents

If you are self-employed and you live in Quebec, you would continue to be eligible for maternity and parental benefits through the Quebec Parental Insurance Program for the Self-Employed Worker. In addition, you would become eligible to take advantage of the sickness and compassionate care benefits through the Government of Canada's employment insurance. If you chose to take advantage of the program, you would pay EI premiums at the same rates as employees in Quebec, where rates have already been lowered to take into account the provincial maternity and parental benefit plan.

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