Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We have Action

I have just found in the fine print of the budget that the government is striking a panel of experts to study the best way to allow self employed women to get maternity Benefits. This now means that if they implement that we have a clear charter issue and lots more ammunition to fight for full benefits and medical.
I sent the Minister a quick message to ask to be one of her experts, worth a shot.
Everyone talk amongst your yourselves have a celebratorical drink if you imbide. I'm a happy protagonist!!!!

the quote " and the establishment of an expert panel to study how best to provide maternity and parental benefits to the self-employed." and
"Money will also be provided for a strategic training and transition fund for Canadians no eligible for EI training, including the self-employed and those who have been out of work."

Media Coverage Attained

A friend sent me this search he ran on our Campaign thru Google, we sure hit the whole country
but we got to keep at them

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Letter to Iggy and Senior Liberals

I'm the guy who started the Campaign for Equality in the EI Act for the Self Employed, it's gained alot of strength these past few days and got a wonderful amount of very positive press.
I was disgusted with the budget just presented as it does nothing for any of the 600,000 unemployed who paid into it yet are deemed ineligible. They can't get any of that skills and training dollars because they aren't drawing and can't draw EI. There was nothing pegged towards the self employed not even his maternity benefits promise in September.
Michael I can only hope that you stand by your word that this budget had to Help the Vulnerable! I don't see it, there's nothing. There's more money for banks that made huge profits off Canadians for years now they get our tax dollars also! More money for the foreign auto sector who are part of the problem certainly not part of the solution. They, the Harper government got this wrong, way wrong and now it's up to you and the rest of the official opposition to stand up for all of the vulnerable Canadians that were completely discarded in the trash , again by Harper. man up and either force amendments to change what needs to be changed to help those Canadians most in economic need or defeat it and lets get on with a real government for Canada.
Chris Hopkins
EI For The Self Employed

Gross Disappointments

Well now, I had to use the term Gross Disappointment for what has just been put to the House of Commons and Canadians. Other than tagging on 5 weeks of benefits for those already drawing EI, there is nothing there for either the Self Employed or the 600,000 unemployed Canadians who paid in yet are deemed ineligible by the current governments rules.
It made me sick to my stomach when I realised that they are helping the very people that caused this downturn and caused the layoffs and 100,000 unemployed but squat for the uneemployed. I can only hope that Iggy will keep his word that for his support the budget must address the VULNERABLE, because it isn't there. He also said he would not support broad based tax cuts, though small they're there. How on earth do these guys think that they'll have a surplus in 4 years. Do they really think we're that stupid.
We will keep fighting, I don't see this as a set back, maybe I should have started it earlier but I will march on and hopefully you will also.

Response to CFIB Comments in CP Story

I know many readers of this blog have read the CP story from Monday across Canada. I just sent the following letter to Corinne Pohlmann of the CFIB in response to her remarks.
I feel I straightened her out.

Hello Corinne;
My name is Chris Hopkins and I am the self employed small business man who started the Campaign for Equality in the EI Act for the Self Employed. I have been meaning to comment back to you directly regarding your remarks on this subject with CTV news. Firstly I am of the belief that everyone is allowed their point of View.
I don't believe CFIB speaks for the self employed. certainly not the majority of us. Your organization claims to have 105,000 members yet there are at last count 2.3 million Self Employed.
Your comments that your membership would rather invest their money instead of paying into EI. I'm sure some could afford to do that but most of us don't have the money to invest in the first place and with today's market "invest in what". Again you aren't speaking for the majority of self employed when you made that remark.
Thirdly, as far as administering the change, you state that your organization feels it's unworkable. Again I disagree.
If a self employed person decides to "opt in" and pay into the fund for at least 6 months, the facts will speak for themselves when they apply for benefits.
What differences to you see id a regular claimant and a self employed claimant if they are applying for Maternity or Medical benefits? Do the self employed fake illness and pregnancy?
As for regular unemployed claimants, a accounting from their accountant showing business failure, bankruptcy filings and bank accounts go a very long way to proving the need of this individual.
On top of that many self employed business people have employees, likely in the 100,s of thousands. if the business fails those employees are eligible for EI benefits, why shouldn't the business owner and employer have that same social safety net? If CFIB closes down you'd get benefits? If my business goes bankrupt why can't I put in a claim.
I'm not doing all of this work for myself, I believe it's too late for my business, It's pretty much toast and by my own feelings one would have to pay into the fund for at least 6 months before making a claim. That isn't going to be feasible in my case.
So, please take the time to research the whole problem and the solutions before you and your organization pontificates on the subject, against the 2.3 million self employed.

Chris Hopkins

Further news this Tuesday, Senator Nick Sibbetson from the Western Arctic is now a supporter and will be speaking to others in the Red Chamber about this campaign.

Monday, January 26, 2009

One Last Chance to Influence

Tomorrows our last chance to influence the budget, and the oppositions view that this should be in there and to show them that we're serious. So if you have time tomorrow morning before they go sit on their bums give your MP a call or send them an email reminding them of how you feel about the need to bring equality to the EI Program for the 2.3 Million self employed in Canada. Then watch it if you can.

More Media

Well I seem to have really started something. Lots of members to the Facebook Group. I'm doing a live radio interview today Radio Noon in the Maritimes and will be interviewed by Nancy Wilson tomorrow at 11:30 Atlantic on CBC Newsworld. Also a radio station in the Niagara region of Ontario tomorrow sometimes. So keep at you MP/PMO and Minister of HRDC Dianne Findlay.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What Lies Ahead

I got a great surprise last night when the Canadian Press called and did an interview about this Campaign. It will be put on their news wire for Monday Editions across Canada. The piece will be posted Friday.
I was nice enough to send each MP a heads up about the story going National and suggested they prepare some briefing notes for when they get calls from their self employed constituents. I'm too nice.
I even sent the PMO a seperate email telling them what I was doing and about the coming press. So if you are reading this and agreed with what I'm trying to bring about, email your MP and Mr. Harper at Prime Minister/Premier ministre <>.
Good Luck

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Globe and Mail Picks up on the Campaign

I have been informed that the Globe and Mail has chosen this campaign story to be part of a live budget hub ( not sure what that exactly means) today with a series of 'wish list' items for inclusion in the budget. More to follow!
Well, actually Wednesday on the Report on business section. I'll post the full url as soon as they send it too me.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hitting the Print Media

Today I sent the MP letter and explanatory cover note to every major newspaper across Canada and a lot of other smaller dailies. Now I'll wait for a response or 2. Still nothing from the MP's across Canada, except the PMO staffer who passes the bucks for Steve.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday January 17th Where We're At

Since Starting this campaign for "Equality Under the EI Act "I have sent all MP's the above letter twice, as I have had no responses , EXCEPT the PMO and Dianne Findley, Minister in charge of EI.
I also sent a copy to just about every social commentary individual, people like Rex Murphy, Don Newman, Rick Mercer, Judy Rebick and organizations that are relevant, like the CLC, CFIB, CD Howe Institute, the Fraser Institute, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Canadian Farmers Union, Council of Canadians and so on.
If you are intersted in helping please contact your MP and the PMO, inundate them, maybe they maybe catch on that this is a real issue that needs to be looked at immediately.
The original CBC interview I did here on PEI has been sent to all CBC outlets, I'm doing a print interview with the Charlottetown Guardian which will be posted hopefully to the Canadian Press network and right in Harpers Heartland I expect to do another CBC interview this time with CBC Calgary.
So Please help if you can, add to this blog, email your cohorts for Social Change!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Campaign begins

Hello all from PEI. I'm a small businessman, self employed and I'm on a mission to have changes made to the current EI Act so to allow the self employed to participate. The self employed make up 15% of Canada's workforce are Self Employed.
Many self employed are beginning to feel the economic crunch, I know I surely am as I already live in a depressed area of Canada...oh well the seafood is cheap!
I have undertaken to have the Government of Canada enact legislation to allow the self employed to contribute to the EI Fund and if ever needed be able to draw down from that fund, which currently has a huge surplus.
I only started this campaign on Tuesday January 12 and I feel I have made a good start. I got my campaign going by getting on the CBC evening news, I have started a Facebook group, EI for the Self Employed m a blog and today I wrote to every MP in the country stating my reasoning.
That letter is below:

Dear Honourable Member;

I am writing to you today to ask that you work and strive to make changes to the current eligibility rules so to allow for Self Employed business people to be able to contribute too and be eligilible to make a claim for EI. Currently this group, the self employed, makes up 15% of Canada's workforce. In a majority of cases those self employed individuals end up hiring staff and building the economy even more.

I myself run a small business, by myself, it's outdoor work and over the last 3 months I have only been able to work for clients 5 days, not all because of weather, many people are just putting things off because of the economy. I can't survive 3 months with 5 days work, nor can anyone and I truly feel the self employed are being short changed with the current eligibility criteria.

There is hope and an easy solution ready to be acted on by Parliament.

Under the current EI Act,
Regulations to include persons in business
(5) The Commission may, with the approval of the Governor in Council and subject to affirmative resolution of Parliament, make regulations for including in insurable employment the business activities of a person who is engaged in a business, as defined in subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act.

Currently there is a segregated group of "self employed' who do have access to EI. That's the fisherpersons, who have been deemed eligilible since 1972.

Currently 15% of Canada's workforce are self employed, and many are struggling like myself to make ends meet, feed their families and pay their bills!

There is also Charter of Rights and Freedoms issues regarding equality for all Canadians. I won't quote the section as I expect you are fully knowledgeable on the Charter.

During the last election, Sept.16th to be exact, Stephen Harper made a campaign promise ( see link below)to open up the EI Fund eligibility to the self employed. While researching for this email I found in the fine print that this change was directed at the women vote and the changes would only benefit self employed women so they could received maternity benefits. Well self employed men don't make babies so where's the equality in that, and the promise seems to have slipped from Mr. Harpers agenda for now.

I would request that you bring this shortcoming to equality under the EI Act forward. Specifically forward prior to January 27th Budget.
In my way of thinking, as I am a Canadian like you, those that choose to opt in be required to pay into the fund, maybe somewhere between Employee and Employer amounts, most self employed couldn't afford both.
In closing I would like to tell you that I did a live interview on CBC Compass, PEI's evening news, I have started a Facebook group, called EI for the Self Employed ( link below) and membership is growing since launching it Tuesday evening. Take a look, I'll gladly add you and be pleased if you comment.

I am currently waiting to do a couple of print interviews which will be posted on CP and CBC PEI is distributing the story they did nationwide, so that's your heads up I guess.
In closing all I ask is that you seriously look at the current shortcomings in EI Eligibility and use your best efforts to assist the 15% of Canadians that deserve equality under the EI program. It can be done and done quickly so as to protect a large portion of the Canadian workforce in the coming tough times ahead.

Facebook Group link

Mr. harpers Campaign promise

My email is, phone 902-969-8569 Be great to hear from you!

Regards with Sincerity

Chris Hopkins
Montague, PEI

So if you're interested in this action to get access to the EI Fund for the Self Employed check out the links, add a comment here, join the Facebook group and help move this along