EI Benefits for Self-Employed?

Employment Insurance Benefits for the Self-Employed?

Yes, it is true. The Government of Canada amended the Employment Insurance Act, (S.C. 1996 c.23) in 2010 to allow self-employed Canadians to register with the EI program to take advantage of special benefits.

You may register for the program if you own or operate your own business, or work for a corporation and control 40% or more of the voting shares and are ineligible for regular EI benefits. You must also be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.

Fishers, taxi drivers, barbers, hairdressers, and other self-employed persons already eligible for the regular EI program are not eligible for the new program.

If eligible for the new program and registered, the EI special benefits available are:

  • Sickness Benefit – a 15 week benefit for persons who cannot work due to illness or injury. A medical certificate is required as proof for your claim.
  • Compassionate Care Benefit – a 6 week benefit for persons away from work temporarily to support a seriously ill family member with a significant risk of death. A medical certificate is required as proof to make the claim.
  • Maternity Benefit – up to 15 weeks of benefits for mothers who give birth.
  • Parental Benefit – up to 35 weeks for any parent (mother or father) to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, and such may be shared by the parents.

To qualify for the special benefits, you must also have earned a minimum of $6,000 in the calendar year before you submit an EI claim. You must also wait 12 months after the day you registered before you may apply for any of the special benefits.

If you qualify for the benefit, you may expect to receive 55% of your average weekly earnings up to a defined annual limit which is currently $485 per week depending on your earnings. Benefit may decrease if you continue working or receive new earnings while receiving benefits.

The premium for such benefits is $1.83 for every $100 you earn up to an annual maximum premium of $839.97 for 2012.

There is no age limit for registration so seniors still operating a business may take advantage of the sickness and compassionate care benefits that arise more commonly in later years.

For more information or to register, visit www.servicecanada .gc.ca or call 1-800-206-7218 or visit the Service Canada Centre at 2963 Glen Drive, Coquitlam.