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EI for the Self-Employed

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Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Québec Pension Plan (QPP) and Employment Insurance (EI) - > EI for self-employed

Employment Insurance (EI) for the self-employed

Since January 2010, self-employed persons have been able to pay EI premiums on a voluntary basis, in order to qualify for EI special benefits, including

bullet maternity benefits (maximum 15 weeks, a claim can start up to 8 weeks before the expected birth date)
bullet parental/adoptive benefits (maximum 35 weeks),
bullet sickness benefits (maximum 15 weeks, and
bullet compassionate care benefits (maximum 6 weeks)

Under the legislation, prior to claiming benefits, self-employed Canadians:

bullet are required to opt into the program at least one year prior to claiming benefits
bullet need to have earned a minimum of $6,000 in self-employed earnings (net income from self-employment) over the preceding calendar year.  This amount increases to $6,222 as of January 1, 2012.
bullet can opt out of the EI program at the end of any tax year, as long as they have never claimed benefits.
bullet must contribute on self-employed earnings for as long as they are self-employed, if they have claimed benefits.
bullet will pay the same EI premium rate as salaried employees.
bullet will not pay the employer portion of EI premiums, in recognition of the fact that they cannot collect regular EI benefits.

The program had a start date of January 2010, so claims could have been made as early as January 2011.

Self-employed Québec residents will still receive maternity and parental benefits through the Québec Parental Insurance Program (QPIP) provided through the Québec government.  They will also be eligible to take advantage of the EI sickness and compassionate care benefits being offered by the Government of Canada.  If they opt into this program, their premium rates will be the same as the rates for employees in Québec.

Government information:

bullet Service Canada - Employment insurance special benefits for self-employed people
bullet Bill C-56, Fairness for the Self-Employed Act
bullet News Release November 3, 2009 

 

Revised: July 27, 2012

 

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