Columnist forgets the self-employed

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Columnist Lana Payne’s Feb. 23 support for doubling Canada Pension Plan benefits is laudable.

Ms. Payne, like the federal NDP, also advocates a substantial increase in CPP premiums.

They fail, however, to allow some measure of relief for the 2.7 million self-employed people in Canada or about 15 per cent of Canada’s workforce — about 45 per cent of whom did not choose that option.

Not all self-employed people are “entrepreneurs.” Many were forced to become “independent contractors” by employers who did not want to pay benefits, thus joining the ranks of those described in a McMaster University and United Way Toronto study (Feb. 23) as being in “precarious” or “insecure” work.  

Overtime pay does not exist.

We do not get paid for statutory holidays; we do not get vacation pay; we do not get sick leave.

If you don’t work on a statutory holiday, you don’t get paid. If you take a vacation, you lose that income. Period.

If you get sick, that’s a shame. We pay both the employer and employee portion of CPP premiums (currently 9.9 per cent). We are not eligible for employment insurance if we are out of work. More than half of those in “precarious employment” earn between $30,000 and $60,000 annually.

Try supporting your family when you must pay between $1,500 and $3,000 extra each year on your taxes to cover the employer share of CPP.  

Try saving a decent amount for retirement, or even as an emergency fund.

How much more difficult would it be if that amount was doubled through increased CPP premiums?

Yet those who advocate doubling CPP premiums and increasing benefits also seem to be in relatively stable and comfortable employment and will likely receive some sort of pension in addition to CPP. And they ignore the impact such a move would have on this significant portion of the work force.  

At the rate things are going, it appears unlikely I’ll be able to afford to stop working before I die. At least my funeral is prepaid. With all these helpful ideas, I may have to keep working after my death. Thanks very much.

Brian Graham

Ottawa

Organizations: NDP, McMaster University

Geographic location: Canada

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