Hope For Hurting Entrepeneurs?

Long ignored entrepreneurs could use EI relief in this recession.

Federal politicos’ silly posturing over an election produced a glimmer of hope for entrepreneurs, who have always been considered lower class citizens in Canada.

I’m talking particularly of the inability of the self-employed to access the unemployment insurance system, except in particular situations that are really social welfare schemes for some provinces.

Self-employed entrepreneurs are the early feeders of any economic system: From them grow businesses that employ others. But governments have always been locked in a “job” mentality that prizes traditional paid employment (preferably by some large corp), and dismisses everything else.

It was easy before because the self-employed were few. But there are now more than 2.5 million of them, and they’re getting harder to ignore. BC in particular has Canada’s highest proportion of independent entrepreneurs.

These people are for the most part hunters who, every day, have to find a paycheque. Theirs is “eat what you kill” economics and if they don’t find game, they don’t eat. Sometimes literally.

In contrast, when some high-paid union or otherwise organized worker is laid off a job, the government rolls out bushels of EI cheques. Entire communities depend on this system.

I thought of this last night while attending a “Supermeetup” of about 3-400 entrepreneurs in downtown Vancouver. Amidst all the usual networking and self promotion, there was also buzz about the recession and its effects on business.

Although they put a brave face on it, as perennially optimistic entrepreneurs usually do, some were clearly hurting because much of their business had run for cover in recent months. This threatens to put them over the edge.

Seems to me that if a government can shell out billions to help auto workers who earn $75 an hour ( with benefits), it can spill a little in the direction of self-employed workers who are down to earning that or less in a day and are living on credit instead.

Some form of EI would help BC entrepreneurs over the rough spots that are inevitable in all business, but are especially savage today.