This week our Conservative Government not only delivered on our commitment to self-employed Canadians, we exceeded it.
Human Resources Minister Diane Finley introduced the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act on Tuesday. Bill C-56 will provide self-employed Canadians with voluntary access to all Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits. This includes maternity and parental benefits, sickness benefits and compassionate care benefits.
All parents face the immense challenge of juggling children and their jobs. Yet currently, the self-employed face a much harder choice in determining if and when they will have children because it can mean a complete loss of income for several weeks and months.
There are approximately 2.6 million self-employed Canadians who are an integral part of our economy and economic recovery. This includes small business owners, farmers, construction workers, professionals, and those who own a home business, among many others.
This legislation not only extends access to maternity and parental EI benefits to the self-employed – a Conservative promise in the 2008 federal election – it encompasses other EI special benefits that payroll employees can receive. It’s the fair and right thing to do.
Self-employed Canadians will now have the peace of mind knowing they can access benefits to cope with major life events such as the birth of a child, an illness, or caring for a gravely ill family member.
This EI legislation builds upon the unprecedented measures our Conservative Government has taken to improve EI benefits and training programs to better help unemployed Canadians get back on their feet and back to work. This includes an additional $1.5-billion investment in training for Canadians whether they qualify for EI or not, as well as EI work-sharing agreements which have been particularly beneficial to forest companies and workers in our region.
Also this week, our legislation to provide up to 20 extra weeks of EI benefits to long-tenured workers was passed by the House of Commons. It will now face scrutiny in the Senate but I am hopeful that senators will recognize the significance of this measure to Canadians who have worked hard and paid into the EI system for years but now find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own.
Health officials are encouraging Canadians to be patient as priority groups receive their vaccinations.
The federal, provincial and territorial governments jointly agreed that these groups include pregnant women, children under 5, health care providers, and adults with underlying health conditions.
Six million doses of H1N1 vaccine have been delivered to the provinces and territories, meaning there is enough vaccine for priority groups.
Meanwhile, efforts by the federal Liberals to politicize and sensationalize this issue are disappointing and unfortunate.
All levels of government are jointly mobilized to roll out the largest mass immunization campaign in Canadian history … and it’s AHEAD of schedule. Plus, Canada currently has MORE H1N1 vaccine per capita than ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!
It’s also important to remember that this is a Pandemic….not a Panic-demic! Continue to monitor news about vaccine clinics at www.health.gov.bc.ca/flu/, remain vigilant about hand-washing, and, please, stay home from work or school when you’re sick.