Can you be self-employed?

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In Canada, you are considered self-employed if you work alone as an independent worker or contractor (freelancer), if you own a business, if you control your own hours of work, or if you are a business partner or co-adventurer (for a complete description on the types of self-employment: Types of self-employment, Service Canada). Self-employment can be a viable career choice so long as you have the mind-set, drive, personality, and the right resources for it.

First, weigh your pros and cons

You may have heard that one of the best things about self-employment is that you regulate your own time. Others say that the best thing about it is that you become your own boss. If you are thinking of taking this path, you should know that while there are advantages, there are also disadvantages to being self-employed. Consider the following:


  1. You can direct the way you do your work and how you allocate your time;
  2. If you are a self-driven person, you may bloom under the challenge of deciding on all of the major issues of the work all on your own; and
  3. Better work/life balance because you set your own hours.


  1. More responsibility – for filing taxes, keeping records, making business plans and strategies, etc.;
  2. No paid holidays or sick days, no health insurance; and
  3. Isolation – No daily interaction with co-workers and customers.

Depending on your values, temperament and goals, you can write down more advantages and disadvantages to this list. The point is, weighing your options thoroughly will help you see the situation realistically and help you decide what is best for you.

The second consideration is preparation and training. To be successful, you must first learn about rules and regulations, taxation matters, supports (for instance to financing a business), and the viability of the industry that you will work or operate in. Certain skills, such as entrepreneurial skills, come in handy for whatever type of self-employment path you wish to take. There are workshops and trainings from Entrepreneurship Manitoba that you can undergo to fully equip you before you take the plunge. Your self-employment success will depend on the amount of preparation you put in, as well as the skills you have developed on your way to directing your own path.

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Community Resources

To learn more about self-employment, visit:

All you need to know about having a small business and being self-employed from the Canada Revenue Agency.

Read all about Employment Insurance special benefits for self-employed people or watch this video: Employment Insurance Special Benefits for Self-Employed People: Maternity and Parental

Know all about the Employment Manitoba Self-employment Program which offers financial support and other services, such as training and consultation.

The Self-Employment Training Program from the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg provides essential services and training with a coaching pool composed of self-employed business owners.

Also read:

An In-depth Guide for Independent Contractors in Canada by Daniel Kosir on Canada is a great resource for those who wish to be self-employed . The article also contains links to basic accounting principles you need to know.

Tax tips for the Self-employed by Shelley White for Globe and will give you an idea of the intricacies of taxation and type of record-keeping that you need straight from the tax experts.

I’m my own boss – and can’t imagine working for anyone else by Kira Vermond for Globe and is full of practical advice for people who are contemplating on or are already self-employed.

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Can you be Self-employed?

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