Tories to extend EI parental benefits to self-employed

Changes expected to boost NDP support for minority government

The federal government will introduce new rules for employment insurance that will extend parental benefits to self-employed Canadians.

The changes, first reported by the Globe and Mail, would mark the second major overhaul to EI this fall and are expected to be introduced sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The bill would directly affect the more than 2.7 million truck drivers, real-estate agents, hairdressers and other self-employed workers. These workers have often said they can't afford to take time off to care for an infant and run their business.

Extending EI parental benefits to self-employed workers is something the NDP has long been calling for and the changes make it likely that party will continue to support Stephen Harper's Conservatives in the face of no-confidence motions from the Liberals.

In September, the Conservatives introduced legislation to provide up to 20 extra weeks of EI benefits to unemployed, "long-term" workers — individuals who have worked and paid EI premiums for a significant period of time and have previously made limited use of EI benefits.

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