Are you eligible for EI if you’re self-employed? Call us for details

The EI Measure for Self-Employed People extends access to EI special benefits to self-employed people on a voluntary basis.

Special Benefits:

  • Maternity benefits, which are available to birth mothers only and cover the period surrounding the child's birth (maximum of 15 weeks);
  • Parental benefits, which are available to biological or adoptive parents while they are caring for newborn or newly adopted children-these benefits may be taken by either parent or shared between them (maximum of 35 weeks);
  • Sickness benefits, which may be paid to a person who is unable to work because of illness, injury, or quarantine (maximum of 15 weeks); and
  • Compassionate care benefits, which may be paid to a person who has to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death (maximum of 6 weeks).

Note:  Self-employed Quebec residents are already covered for maternity and parental benefits through the mandatory Quebec Parental Insurance Plan for the Self-Employed but can choose to participate in the federal program to become eligible for the sickness and compassionate care benefits.

Who can participate:

  • Self-employed individuals who operate their own business;
  • Self-employed individuals who are employed by a corporation but not eligible to participate in the EI program as an employee because they control more than 40 percent of the voting shares of that corporation.
  • Canadian citizens or permanent residents. 

 The Cost:

The maximum EI premium for the year 2017 is $836.19 ($651.51 in Quebec).

The 2017 rate is calculated the same way as for employees, e.g, based on $1.63 per $100 of earnings (1.27% in Quebec), up to a maximum insurable earnings of $51.300.00.

There is no employer portion to be paid.

Important Considerations:

  • Once you have received EI special benefits, you must continue to pay EI premiums on your self-employment income for the entire duration of your self-employed career, regardless of any change in the nature of your self-employment.
  • You can terminate your agreement only if you have not received EI special benefits as a self-employed person.

For further information please see Service Canada's EI Special benefits for Self-Employed page.  To apply on line review their application process or visit a Service Canada Centre near you.

For more information, please contact your CFIB Business Counsellor at or 1-888-234-2232.

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