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