EI benefits for self-employed people: What this program offers
Due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, there are changes to this program.
Changes to support you during COVID-19
Temporary changes have been made to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits for self-employed people. The following changes are in effect until September 2021, and could apply to you:
- effective January 3, 2021, you need to have made at least $5,000 in net earnings in 2020 to be eligible for benefits under the self-employed program in 2021
- you’ll receive at least $500 per week before taxes, or $300 per week before taxes for extended parental benefits, but you could receive more
Sections on this page impacted by these temporary changes are flagged as Temporary COVID-19 relief.
EI has a program designed for self-employed people. If you run your own business or control more than 40% of your corporation’s voting shares, this program can provide you with access to special benefits as early as 12 months after registering. When you need to take time away from your business to care for yourself, your children or other family members, you could receive financial support of up to 55% of your earnings, up to a maximum amount. In 2021, the maximum amount is $595 per week.
Please note that regular benefits aren’t available through this program.
If you’re a fisher, barber or hairdresser, or if you drive a taxi or other passenger vehicle, you don’t need to register for the self-employed program. People in these professions should apply for EI benefits as an employee.
Residents of Quebec
If you’re a resident of Quebec, sickness, compassionate care and family caregiver benefits are available to you through our program. The Province of Quebec is responsible for providing maternity, paternity, parental and adoption benefits to its residents. Visit the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan for more information.
There are 6 types of special benefits
|Benefit name||Who this benefit is for||Maximum weeks||Weekly maximum|
|Maternity||people who are away from work because they're pregnant or have recently given birth||15||$595|
|Parental||parents who are away from work to care for their newborn or newly adopted child||40 or 69 depending on the option you choose||$595 or $357 depending on the option you choose|
|Sickness||people who cannot work for medical reasons||15||$595|
|Family caregiver benefit for children||people who provide care or support to a critically ill or injured person under 18||35||$595|
|Family caregiver benefit for adults||people who provide care or support to a critically ill or injured person 18 or over||15||$595|
|Compassionate care||people who provide care or support to a person who requires end‑of‑life care||26||$595|
To be eligible for these benefits, you must meet the conditions of the benefit for which you are applying.
You must also:
- be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
- be registered in the self-employed program for at least 12 months
- have decreased the amount of time you spend on your business by more than 40% for at least one week
- have earned a minimum amount of self-employed earnings between January 1 and December 31 of the year before you apply for benefits
To be eligible for benefits in 2021, you need to have made at least $7,555 in net earnings in 2020. Temporary COVID-19 relief
Registering for the self-employed program
It’s easy. There are 2 steps:
- register online for the program
- pay EI premiums
You can apply for special benefits 12 months after your confirmed registration date.
Paying your EI premiums
After you register for this program, you’ll be responsible for paying premiums when you file your income tax return each year.
You’ll pay premiums based on your self-employed income for the entire calendar year, starting the year you register.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will confirm the amount of your premiums based on the self-employed income you report on your tax return.
If you’re a shareholder of a corporation
If you’re a shareholder of a corporation where you work as an employee and you control more than 40% of that corporation's voting shares, your premiums are based on your employment income.
Estimate your premiums
In 2021, you’ll pay $1.58 in EI premiums for every $100 you earn. The most you’ll pay for 2021 is $889.54. This premium rate changes annually.
Everyone pays the same rate of EI premiums, whether they’re self-employed or an employee.
Residents of Quebec
In 2021, you’ll pay $1.18 in EI premiums for every $100 you earn. The most you’ll pay for 2021 is $664.34. This premium rate changes annually. Your premiums will be lower than those for self-employed people who reside outside of Quebec since the province provides benefits under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.
You can still register for the program if you’re self-employed and also an employee
In this case, your insurable earnings* from both employment and self-employment could be combined to increase your benefit rate. The maximum benefit rate and the number of weeks of benefits you can get stays the same. Temporary COVID-19 relief
*Insurable earnings include most of the different types of compensation from employment, such as wages, tips, bonuses and commissions. The CRA determines what types of earnings are insurable.
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