Self-employed Canadians managing recession, but not managing risk

    TORONTO, April 1 /CNW Telbec/ - Self-employed Canadians tend to have more
debt and risk to manage than the average Canadian employee, but that is having
limited effect on their stress and work levels during this recession,
according to a survey conducted by Desjardins Financial Security.
    Desjardins research indicates that self-employed Canadians are carrying
more personal debt, excluding mortgages on their primary residence, than the
average Canadian. Despite their heavier debt loads and the additional risk
that it brings, a survey of self-employed Canadians, conducted the first week
of March, found that self-employed Canadians remain split on the impact of the
recession on their stress levels. Just more than half (56 per cent) feel their
stress level is higher now compared to a year ago and fewer (44 per cent) feel
it is harder to be competitive now compared to the start of the recession.
However, 72 per cent of self-employed Canadians said they are not working
significantly more hours since the start of the recession.
    "It is encouraging that Canada's self-employed are getting through the
recession, however, the survey results also show that many are not doing
enough to mitigate the risks particular to small businesses," said Nathalie
Tremblay, Health Products Manager, Individual Insurance, at Desjardins
Financial Security. "People who start their own companies often tend to think
like an employee with a benefits package, where most of the risk is covered by
the company. When you run your own business, you are responsible for
everything: your livelihood, employees, creditors, vendors and ultimately your
family, so self-employed Canadians need to use different tools to protect
their interests."

    Risky Business

    While 85 per cent of Canadians carry a debt load of $25K or less, just
over half of self-employed workers claimed their debt was in this bottom
category. At the top end of debt levels, only five per cent of Canadians at
large have more than $50k of debt, compared to 21 per cent of self-employed
Canadians who have more than $50k of debt.
    According to the survey, the majority of self-employed Canadians said
they own health insurance, like most Canadian employees. However, fifty-four
per cent of respondents said they didn't have enough disability coverage and
80 per cent said they were not familiar with business expense insurance.
    This spring, DFS launched a new suite of insurance products specially
designed for self-employed Canadians. The Solo portfolio offers four
customized products allowing almost all small business owners to ensure their
businesses remain solvent in case of illness, accident or personal injury.
Coverage includes disability income, business expense, living expenses and
accident disability income.
    "We found that a common misconception among small business owners is
about the coverage in case of disability from the spousal group plan. In fact,
it is the case for health care expenses not covered under the provincial
health program but personal disability cannot be provided by the spousal group
plan," said Tremblay. "Small business owners should consider a disability
insurance coverage to replace their income in case of disability and business
expense insurance to keep businesses solvent in case of unforeseen
circumstances." The new Solo suite provides both.
    For more information about Desjardins Financial Security's products for
small business owners and self-employed Canadians, including disability
insurance and business expense insurance, visit:

    About the Survey

    The Desjardins Financial Security Survey on Self-Employed - Small
Business Owners: 2009 edition was conducted by Ipsos Reid Public Affairs on
behalf of Desjardins Financial Security between March 3 and 9, 2009. In total,
1,010 interviews were conducted with a representative sample of Canadian
adults that are self-employed or owners of a small business. The margin of
error on a sample size of 1,010 respondents is +/- 3.1%,19 times out of 20, of
what they would have been had the entire population been polled. Data for the
Ipsos Reid Online Omnibus are collected through a random sampling of the
241,000+ member national Ipsos Reid online panel.
    Both the survey invitation list and the returned data are weighted to
reflect the composition of the general Canadian population. Data was also
weighted to reflect the self-employed and the small business owners'
population. The comparative data about average Canadian employees came from
the 2008 DFS retirement and Health is Cool! Surveys.

    About Desjardins Financial Security

    Desjardins Financial Security, a subsidiary of Desjardins Group, the
largest integrated cooperative financial group in Canada, specializes in
providing life insurance, health insurance and retirement savings products to
individuals and groups. Every day, over five million Canadians rely on
Desjardins Financial Security to ensure their financial security. Desjardins
Financial Security employs 3,800 people and administers $19.7 billion in
assets from offices in several cities across the country, including Vancouver,
Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec, Lévis, Halifax and St.
John's. For more information please visit

For further information:

For further information: Sarah Twomey, Desjardins Financial Security,
(416) 926-2700, extension 2015, 1-877-906-5551, extension 2015; Virtual

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