In Ontario, the social assistance system is designed to provide basic income and other support for individuals and families who have little or no financial means.
Currently, there are two programs under Ontario’s social assistance system: Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). In general, Ontario Works is designed to assist people on a temporary basis by providing financial support while encouraging recipients to become financially independent through employment.
ODSP, on the other hand, is there to help people with disabilities that experience difficulties finding jobs, carrying out daily living activities and/or otherwise being engaged in the community.
Generally speaking, to quality for OW and ODSP you must meet certain financial criteria which are based mainly on your family size, income, and asset level. In addition, to be eligible for ODSP, an applicant must also meet the legal definition of a person with a disability.
The amount of financial support given under OW and ODSP is quite limited, and in fact falls below the poverty line. In addition, once you are on social assistance, you are often subject to different requirements. For instance, if you are on OW, you may be required to seek employment, or to seek other sources of income, such as child support.
Besides income support, recipients of OW and ODSP also receive such benefits as prescription drug coverage and basic dental care. For those who are able to work, they may also receive support to help them re-enter the workforce. There are a number of other benefits and support programs within the social assistance system that are designed to meet the specific needs of recipients.
This link will provide information on Ontario Works. This brochure contains important information on how to apply for OW, the requirements, and the appeal process. This brochure contains only general legal information. The law can change, and each person’s situation is different. If you have any questions about your specific situation, please consult your local community legal clinic, community agency or a lawyer.