Self-employed workers were recently granted the right to opt-in to maternity, parental leave and compassionate care benefits after one year of contribution. However, self-employed individuals are not eligible for regular benefits.
The EI program is intended to provide protection against unplanned unemployment. Some argue that self-employed workers should not be eligible to receive EI because it is difficult to determine if their unemployment is voluntary or not.
Self-employed workers’ lack of coverage under EI could be seen as part of the risks inherent to self-employment and entrepreneurship. However, if self-employed workers are unable to access EI, maybe they should have access to some form of income security beyond provincial social assistance. Of special concern is that many self-employed people are not high income entrepreneurs, but rather individuals with low incomes.