Are Employment Insurance self-employed special benefits right for you?

November 24, 2010 - Tags: Entrepreneurship, Regulations

Istock 000005490052xsmallThis guest post is provided by Service Canada, which offers Canadians a single point of access to a wide range of Government of Canada services and benefits either in person, by phone, by Internet, or by mail.

Until recently, only employees - those who work for others - who qualified for benefits through the Employment Insurance (EI) program could receive financial support when they got sick, gave birth, adopted a child, cared for a newborn, or took care of a family member who was seriously ill.

Under the Employment Insurance Act, as amended by the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act, self-employed Canadians - those who work for themselves - can now apply for these special benefits when they register for the EI program. Registration is voluntary for self-employed people.

Who can register?

You can register if you operate your own business, or if you work for a corporation but previously could not access EI benefits because you controlled more than 40% of the corporation's voting shares. You must also be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada. Other terms and conditions apply.

What are EI special benefits?

There are four types of EI special benefits:

  • Maternity benefits are for mothers who give birth. These benefits cover the period surrounding the child's birth (up to 15 weeks).*

  • Parental benefits are for any parent (mother or father, natural or adoptive). Either parent can receive benefits, or they can share benefits between them (up to 35 weeks).*

  • Sickness benefits are for people who cannot work due to injury, illness, or the need to be isolated in quarantine because they may be carrying a disease (up to 15 weeks).

  • Compassionate care benefits are for people who must be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is seriously ill with a significant risk of death (up to 6 weeks).

*Note: Self-employed residents of Quebec are already covered for maternity, paternity, and parental benefits under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP). If they choose to participate in this new measure, they may be eligible for EI sickness and compassionate care benefits only.

To learn more about EI special benefits for self-employed people and find out if they are right for you, visit Employment Insurance Special Benefits for Self-Employed People.


What happen if you own 33-1/3rd of the company and your wife owns 33-1/3 and your brother owns 33-1/3.
are you then entitled to recieve ei benifits if you and the the company have been paying the premiums ?

By ike on November 27, 2010

I could not find anything pertaining to my question on your web pages.
I am wondering if you are collecting EI can you run a hobby type business without being disqualified for benefits?
of course i would expect that any profits would have to be claimed as earnings.

By John on January 5, 2011

Hi John,

Service Canada is able to respond to your specific question regarding EI benefits. You can use their toll-free telephone information service at 1-800-206-7218 (TTY 1-800-529-3742) or visit their Contact Information for Employment Insurance page for mail or in person service information.”

By Canada Business on January 5, 2011

Is there another number for e.i. other than 1-800-206-7218?  this number is only automated and will disconnect if you try to press 0 to get an customer service person.

Driving into the service canada office is another route but not cost effective given the gas money & long wait times.

does the government provide any human service via phone? Waiting for a ‘review’ of their mistakes on my account is the most stressful mess ever. i have now been waiting 2 months to receive a few pennies.

By nicole on March 3, 2011

It is a good article on Employment Insurance. Good to see that a self employed persons are also included to take benefit of the business benefits. With getting registered, I can enjoy various EI special benefits. Thanks to for sharing the insurance plan.

By Ryan on March 31, 2011

I registered for this on the first day it opened! It feels great to have that extra piece of mind as a self employed person. It makes wanting to own my business more encouraging… I was excited to refer a few friends about it.

By Phiona on June 28, 2011

I’m self employed and have registered, and paid benefits through my year end tax from 2009/2010. I was under contract for work. My contract has been dissolved as of December 31, 2011. What do I need from the contractor I worked for.

By Andre on December 31, 2011

Hello Andre,

Service Canada is able to respond to your specific question about applying for EI benefits. You can use their toll-free telephone information service at 1-800-206-7218 (TTY 1-800-529-3742) or visit Contact Employment Insurance for details on how to contact Service Canada by mail or in person.”

By Canada Business on January 5, 2012

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