Self-employed EI in Canada
RECENT STUDIES IN CANADA INDICATE THAT SMALL BUSINESS GROWTH IS A DRIVING FORCE behind our economic development and that female entrepreneurs are leading the way. For example, the number of female entrepreneurs in Canada continues to rise faster than their male counterparts and has done so for nearly a decade. Of the 2.6 million Canadians who work for themselves, nearly one million are women, according to 2007 statistics cited by the Conservatives. This number could be even greater if the self-employed parents had access to the social supports that otherwise employed Canadians enjoy. As a female entreprenuer and someone who works with many female entreprenuers, I have observed those women give up precious time with their newborn children to return to their business as they cannot afford to pay someone to do work for them to keep the business alive. If self-employed women could be given the opportunity to take parental leave, many would choose to hire someone to assist with their business thus creating employement as well as providing equal treatment to small business owners. Stephen Harper has used this need as part of his federal election campaign; however little has materialised toward this end. In September 2008, the Conservative leader announced that his party would give self-employed Canadians the chance to opt in to the employment insurance system, providing them with parental leave and other EI benefits. We are still waiting for the program. In 2001, the Quebec National Assembly passed an Act respecting parental insurance. The implementation of this program required that Quebec acquire control of its share of funds from the federal Employment Insurance program — a requirement which was met in March 2005 when the governments of Canada and Quebec signed a final agreement on Quebec's parental insurance plan. Under this agreement, the Government of Canada reduces Employment Insurance premiums of workers and employers in Quebec so that the Government of Quebec can collect premiums for its own program. Quebec's Act respecting parental insurance outlined a number of significant changes to the provision of maternity and parental benefits in that province, including a change to the eligibility criteria so benefits would be more accessible to part-time or self-employed parents, an enhanced level of benefits and a new paternity benefit offered exclusively to new fathers. The new Quebec program came into force for all children born on or after 1 January 2006. The success of this program shows that it is not beyond the capacity of government. Please sign this petition to show your support for a revised EI program that would allow self-employed Canadians to opt-in and receive parental benefits. The petition was sent to Harper, all his MP's and the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development on Thursday October 8th with 917 signatories. We will continue to collect signatures until the issue has been resolved.