One of the down sides of self-employment is no sick days! And what about maternity leave? Luckily, to ease this burden just a little, self employed people can access certain EI special benefits if they opt in to the program.

Here are the basics about how to applyhow much you will have to pay and under what conditions you can claim benefits.

Since January 2011 in BC, self-employed people can access EI special benefits. These special benefits are described as maternity and parental benefits, sickness benefits, compassionate care benefits and family caregiving benefits.

How to apply?

In order to be eligible for EI benefits as a self-employed person, you first have to register with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission, applying online with a My Service Canada Account. Then you must wait 12 months.

NB. There are some people who are not eligible to apply for these benefits, so contact Service Canada to confirm eligibility.

 How much will you pay?

Your EI premiums will be calculated based on your income tax and benefit return for the year in which you apply. For example, if you register in 2020 , your EI premiums will be calculated based on your 2020 income tax and benefit return and will be payable by April 30, 2021.

Regardless of when you register during a given year, EI premiums are payable based on your self-employed income for the entire year. See calculation of premiums page for more information.

How can you claim?

(From the Service Canada website ) After 12 months a self-employed person can claim these special benefits if:

You have reduced the amount of time devoted to your business by more than 40% because:

  • your child was born,
  • you are caring for your newborn or adopted child or children,
  • you are ill, injured, or in quarantine, or
  • you need to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill or injured.


  • you have earned a minimum amount of self-employed earnings during the calendar year preceding the year you submit a claim. This amount may change from year to year. If you want to apply for benefits in 2020, for example, you would need to have earned at least $7,279 in 2019.


  • for compassionate care benefit claims – you have provided medical proof showing that a gravely ill family member who is at risk of dying within 26 weeks needs your care or support,
  • for EI sickness claims – you have provided a medical certificate as proof that you are unable to work because of illness, injury, or quarantine,
  • for EI maternity or parental benefit claims – you have provided the expected date of birth of the child and the actual birth date once it has occurred, or the official placement date in the case of adoption.
  • See the CRA website for more information about exactly what you will need to provide to make your EI claim.

If you are self-employed and an insured employee, you can choose whether to apply for EI special benefits either as a self-employed person or as an employee. See amount of weekly benefits page for more information.


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