Employment Insurance (EI) is a series of temporary benefits for workers.The regular benefits are available for workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own, for example through shortage of work, seasonal employment, or lay-offs. Independent contractors are not eligible for the regular EI benefits.
However, self-employed Canadians can access Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits by entering into an agreement, or registering, with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission.
There are six types of EI special benefits:
- Maternity benefits
- Parental benefits
- Sickness benefits
- Compassionate care benefits
- Family Caregiver benefits for critically ill children
- Family Caregiver benefits for critically ill adult
You can register with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission through Service Canada if you:
- operate your own business, or if you work for a corporation but cannot access EI benefits because you control more than 40 per cent of the corporation’s voting shares; and
- are either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.
The Canadian Freelance Union strongly encourages all members who work freelance to earn a majority of their income, register to be able to apply for EI special benefits. It is important to plan ahead for special benefits, since you must wait 12 months from the date of your confirmed registration before applying for EI special benefits. Once you register, you will begin making EI contributions to the Canada Employment Insurance Commission.
Regular EI benefits are paid out of contributions from both workers and employers. Because you are not eligible for regular benefits, you are not required to pay the employer portion of EI premiums. You only pay the employee portion.