I've been working almost constantly for the last 40 years, and in that time I have paid tens of thousands of dollars into the Employment Insurance fund.
I have collected on these benefits for two stints of maternity leave and a few weeks of actual unemployment. But there is no way that I ever got back, or ever will get back, anything near what I have contributed into that fund, both directly from my salary and indirectly from my employers. All of us working stiffs have to keep paying into it, year after year after year, whether we use the benefits or not.
[For the last twenty years or so, mostly not -- which only increases my resentment, because I would much prefer that my involuntary contribution to the social compact at least be used to benefit jobless Canadians rather than just disappearing into the government's general revenues.]
But getting back to my point, so now Harper is promising to make self-employed people eligible for maternity leave benefits because this is what business people are asking for, Harper says.
I can understand their resentment -- its like driving around the mall on a cold winter's day and seeing the empty handicapped parking places and thinking gee wouldn't it be nice to park so close.
But you need to think this through, people.
Once you become "eligible" for EI benefits, you won't have a choice about whether to pay them or not and it won't matter whether you are young or old or male or female. A percentage of every dollar you earn will go into the EI fund and you'll just have to pay it, and maybe you'll have to pay the "employers" contribution as well -- and you'll keep paying and paying, now and forever, amen.