moved for leave to introduce Bill C-396, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (self-employed artists and authors).
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this private member's bill because one of the largest contributions made to Canadian society is made by artists and authors. Like school teachers and child care workers, I do not think that artists are valued nearly enough, particularly as measured by their remuneration.
Artists also suffer another disadvantage in Canadian society. As most of them are self-employed, they do not have access to benefits that are available to people who are employed, such as maternity benefits, sickness benefits and income benefits as are contained in the employment insurance program. There are ways the employment insurance program could be modified to allow for self-employed artists to have access to those kinds of benefits. I think they are critical to them.
During the last election campaign we had an arts and culture debate, as we have had in the last four election campaigns in Fredericton, and this was the principal issue.
I am pleased to introduce the bill as a way of remedying the situation.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)