Article in Toronto Star June 18, 2009
More benefits not key for all self-employed
June 18, 2009
OTTAWA-A pledge to extend maternity and parental benefits to the
self-employed is now part of the Conservative government's pitch to stay
in power next fall.
Problem is, for nearly half the country's self-employed, it's a pitch
that seems to fall flat.
A survey of self-employed Canadians, commissioned by the Human
Resources and Skills Development Department, shows half expressed
"interest" in parental benefits - which may be taken by either parent or
shared by both.
But 45 per cent expressed little or no interest in them.
As for maternity benefits - paid to a mother who takes leave from work
after the birth of a child - 45 per cent showed interest and, more
important, 47 per cent showed a lack of interest, according to the
What really interested a majority of the 882 self-employed Canadians
who filled out an in-depth survey was access to sickness benefits or
compassionate-care benefits to care for a child or gravely ill family
member (83-86 per cent).
And 74 per cent liked the idea of EI-like benefits in case of business
failure. One-quarter expressed little or no interest in this.
Yet 56 per cent of self-employed workers were not at all interested in
a mandatory program that would see them charged premiums for access to
The lengthy analysis of the needs and attitudes of Canada's
self-employed was completed in May 2006 after the Conservatives took
Last fall, as part of his pitch to female voters, Harper proposed only
a voluntary program that he said would cost $147 million annually and be
self-financed once self-employed people opted in and began paying
Right now, self-employed Canadians - outside Quebec - do not pay into
the employment insurance program and are not eligible for jobless
benefits, maternity or otherwise.
More than 2.6 million Canadians are self-employed.