Ontario Works provides two kinds of help: financial assistance and employment assistance to people who live in Ontario and are in temporary financial need. To qualify for Ontario Works (OW), your family income and asset worth cannot be above a certain amount. These amounts depend on the size of your family. Various sources of income and assets are taken into account, with certain exceptions.
If you qualify for assistance, you will receive a monthly benefit which includes the basic needs allowance for food and personal needs and shelter costs up to a maximum amount and a monthly family drug card to cover the cost of prescription drugs. You can apply for additional benefits through your case worker based on need.
There are three ways to apply for OW: by phone, in-person interview, and online. Multi-lingual information phone lines are available for people who do not speak English. There are particular instructions to follow for completing an application. You will also have to provide certain information about yourself, each member of your family and anyone else who lives with you and are included in your application.
While receiving Ontario Works benefits you are usually required to participate in employment-related activities. Your caseworker may work with you to create something called a Participation Agreement to help you reach employment-related goals. Ontario Works also has guidelines for reporting changes to your family and living arrangements or financial situation, support payments, pursuing other income and income deductions. When you are getting assistance from Ontario Works (OW), they will ask you for information to prove that you still qualify financially.
If you apply for OW assistance and your application is refused or you are receiving OW and your assistance is reduced or cut off completely, you have the right to appeal these decisions to the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT). Not all decisions can be appealed to the SBT and it is important to review the rules and guidelines for appealing OW decisions.
For more information on Ontario Works, click here. 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.