Fairness for the Self-Employed Act

This week, on November 3rd, the Government of Canada introduced the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act, legislation that, if passed, will provide all Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits, including maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits, to self-employed workers.

Currently, maternity benefits (15 weeks maximum) are available to birth mothers only and cover the period surrounding birth (a claim can start up to 8 weeks before the expected birth date).

Parental benefits (35 weeks maximum) are available to biological or adoptive parents while they are caring for a newborn or newly adopted child. They may be taken by either parent or shared between them. If parents opt to share these benefits, only one waiting period must be served.

Sickness benefits (15 weeks maximum) may be paid to a person who is unable to work because of sickness, injury or quarantine.

Compassionate care benefits (6 weeks maximum) may be paid to persons who have 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.

To qualify for these benefits proposed under the new legislation, self-employed workers will have to:

Be self-employed as determined by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Opt into the program at least one year prior to claiming benefits and be responsible for making premium payments starting with the tax year in which they opt in to the program.

The self-employed would pay the same premium rate that salaried employees currently pay. They would not be required to pay the employer’s portion of the premium rate, as they would not have access to EI regular benefits.

Apply for benefits:

  • having an interruption of earnings related to the birth/adoption of a child, sickness or the need to provide compassionate care to a gravely ill relative and
  • having earned a minimum amount of $6,000 in self-employed earnings over the preceding calendar year.

    The self-employed will be able to opt in as of January 2010. Payments of premiums for individuals opting in during the 2010 calendar year would be paid through their 2010 tax return.

    Given the opt in process will begin in January 2010, the earliest a self-employed person could make a claim would be January 1, 2011.

    Self-employed workers will be able to opt out of the program at the end of any tax year, as long as they have never received benefits.

    There are approximately 2.6 million self-employed Canadians who have long asked for this support. They include small business owners, farmers, construction workers, professionals, and those who own a home business, among many others.

    Self-employed Canadians will now have the peace of mind knowing they can access special benefits to cope with major life events such as the birth of a child, an illness, or caring for a gravely ill family member.

    It is just one more way the Government is improving the EI system. The Government has already expanded eligibility for compassionate care benefits and established the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board to improve the governance and management of the EI account.

    And under Bill C-50, which is currently before the House of Commons, the Government will provide support of 5 to 20 extra weeks of EI benefits to long-tenured workers to help them while they search for new employment. These are Canadians who have worked hard and paid into the EI system for years, but have found themselves unemployed through no fault of their own.

    Finally, through the Economic Action Plan, the Government of Canada has frozen the EI premium rate for 2010 at $1.73 per $100 of earnings—the same rate as 2008 and 2009 and the lowest level since 1982, providing a projected $10.5 billion stimulus to the economy.

    I am glad to see that our Government continues to work to make our EI system fair and available to hard working Canadians. Extending access to special benefits was a commitment during the last election and is the fair and right thing to do. It is yet another way our government is supporting families and represents one of the most significant enhancements to the EI program in the last decade. I look forward to supporting this legislation as it makes its way through the House of Commons including the Standing Committee for Human Resources and Skills Development of which I am a member.

    Please feel free to contact me anytime at 470-5075 or [email protected] if you have any questions regarding the Government’s actions or any other matter you feel is important. More information on the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act will be made available at www.servicecanada.gc.ca when the measure becomes available in January 2010.

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    About the Author

    The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

    On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

    Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

    His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

    He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

    He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

    He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

    He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

    On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

    In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

    Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

    As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

    Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

    Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

    Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

    The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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