What is Ontario Works?
Ontario Works provides financial and employment assistance to people in temporary financial need. The goal of Ontario Works is to help people gain employment and/or gain skills they need to obtain a job and become self reliant. People receiving assistance through Ontario Works participate in a wide range of employment assistance activities, which help them prepare for, find and keep a job.
You may be eligible for employment and other supports while in receipt of Ontario Works assistance. These supports include:
- Employment Related Expenses,
- Community Placement Expenses,
- Child Care expenses,
- Full-Time Employment Benefit,
- Other Employment and Employment Assistance Activities Benefit and
- Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit.
You will need to speak with your case manager to determine if you qualify for any of these or any other supports available.
The Ontario Works Act provides the legislative framework for the provision of employment assistance and temporary financial assistance to people in financial need.
It's purpose is to:
- recognize individual responsibility and promote self-reliance through employment;
- provide temporary financial assistance to those most in need while they meet obligations to become and stay employed;
- effectively serve people needing assistance; and
- be accountable to the taxpayers of Ontario.
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Who is Eligible for Ontario Works?
Residents of Ontario may apply for Ontario Works assistance. Eligibility for Ontario Works is based on an assessment of financial need and an agreement to participate in employment activities.
Financial need is determined according to the number of people in your family, your income and assets, and shelter costs. This information is updated by your case manger as your circumstances change.
A participation agreement is completed and signed by each participant over the age of 18 at the time of application. The agreement is an employment plan negotiated with you and contains employment activities appropriate for your skills, employment and educational background. This plan is updated as activities are completed or modified.
What if I have income? Am I eligible for Ontario Works?
You may be eligible for Ontario Works if you have income. Information such as your family size, accommodation costs, amount of income and assets, etc. will be gathered to determine if you are eligible while in receipt of income. See How to Apply further down this page.
What is income at Ontario Works?
Income can be defined as including:
- all wages, salaries, casual earnings and amounts paid under a training program; all regular and periodic payments received under any annuity, pension plan, superannuation scheme or insurance benefit; all payments received under a mortgage, agreement for sale or loan agreement;
- all pensions or payments received under the legislation of any other country;
- all payments for support or maintenance received under a court order or an agreement;
- all payments received as a retainer from the Childrens Aid Society for providing emergency care;
- payments received or available where the applicant or participant is a sponsored immigrant under the Immigration Act (Canada)
- any payment received from the sale or disposition of an asset
- cash advances from a credit card or line of credit;
- where an applicant or participant is renting real property to another person, 60 percent of the amount received for each person
- where an applicant or participant is providing lodging and meals to a person, 40 percent of the amount received or $100 for each person, whichever is greater
- where an applicant or participant is providing lodging without meals to a person, 60 percent of the amount received or $100 for each person, whichever is greater
All payments received by or on behalf of an applicant or participant under the:
- Pension Act (Canada)
- Employment Insurance Act (Canada)
- War Veterans Allowance Act
- Civilians War Pension and Allowances Act (Canada)
- Quebec Pension Plan (Quebec)
- Canada Pension Plan (Canada)
- Old Age Security Act
- Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income Act
- Compensation for Victims of Crime Act
- Workplace Safety and Insurance Act
- all interest and dividends earned;
- proceeds of any loan (see Exemptions below); and
- the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) portion of the Canada Child Tax Benefit
What are considered assets for Ontario Works?
Assets are cash, bonds, debentures, stocks, certificates, the cash surrender value of a life insurance policy, interest in property, a beneficial interest in assets held in trust and available to the benefit unit, and other property which can be readily converted into cash.
There are some things which are not considered assets. This will be explained to you at your verification interview.
No person is eligible for income assistance if her/her non-exempt assets, and the non-exempt assets of his/her spouse and any other dependents, exceed the allowable asset limits.
Asset limits are the same across the province and are based on the number and type of dependents in the benefit unit.
The following table outlines the allowable asset limits used to determine initial and ongoing eligibility for assistance, including Temporary Care Assistance, under Ontario Works.
Benefit Unit Size
Maximum Asset Level
Single applicant or participant (no spouse and no dependents)
|Applicant or recipient with a spouse (no dependents)||
Applicant or recipient with a spouse and one other dependent
|Applicant or recipient with spouse and one dependent, plus additional dependents||
$1,735 + $500 for each additional dependant
|Applicant or recipient with one dependent (no spouse)||
|Applicant or recipient with one dependent, plus additional dependents (no spouse)||
$1,657 + $500 for each additional dependant
|Child in temporary care or a dependent of a dependent||
There are other workers in Ontario Works you may have contact with. They include Family Support Workers, Eligibility Review Officers and Job Development Workers.
Family Support Workers help people applying for Ontario Works, participants and their dependants to pursue financial support from those who have a legal obligation to provide it. The powers of Family Support Workers include the authority to collect and disclose personal information necessary for assisting in legal proceedings for child, spousal or sponsorship support and the enforcement of agreements, orders and judgements relating to support
The Ontario Works Act authorizes each delivery agent to establish a social assistance Fraud Control function. The function is performed by the Eligibility Review Officer and has the authority to investigate former and current participants, including possible violation of the Ontario Works Act, the Family Benefits Act, and the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act.
The legislation recognizes the role of the Eligibility Review Officer and provides authority to investigate a person's past or present eligibility for payments under the Act. For the purposes of carrying out this role, specific powers, are prescribed in the regulations.
Job Development Workers support Ontario Works participants in securing employment through a screening, matching and referral process with local employers. These workers may provide incentives to the Employer to support the placement.
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How to Apply:
- Apply Online or
- Call 1-800-267-8146, where you will be able to access an Intake Screening Clerk. They will ask for information such as your address, rent or shelter costs, income including support payments, loans and insurance, total bank balance, and the identity of family members.
- Be prepared to provide identification, social insurance numbers and health-card numbers for yourself and members of your family.
After speaking to the Intake Screening Clerk, you will be scheduled to attend a Verification Interview at your local Ontario Works office. Here, you will sign several forms including:
- an application for assistance,
- an Ontario Works participation agreement,
- a Consent to Disclose and Verify Information, and
- a Rights and Responsibilities agreement.
You will also complete an employment assessment with your case manager to determine appropriate employment activity options. You will receive an Employment Information Session package which outlines your participation options along with other information about the Ontario Works program.
Next, you will be asked to provide proof of your rent or shelter costs, show current bank statement(s), and state earnings and assets for all family members. You may be required to provide other information as advised at your interview.
What documentation is required for my Verification Interview?
You must provide the following documentation:
- Date of birth, SIN number, and health card number
- Current address
- Contact telephone number
- Monthly rent/mortgage cost
- Landlord´s name, address and telephone number
- Mortgage payments and mortgages
- Monthly heat, hydro and water costs
- House insurance and property taxes
- Banking history for all family members bank accounts
- Life insurance policy number
- Current pay stubs, if applicable
- Other income information (ie: CPP, EI, Child Tax Benefit, child /spousal support)
A list containing documents that will be required is available here.
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Ontario Works Income Reporting
Once eligibility for Ontario Works has been established, it is necessary for participants to submit an Income Reporting Statement on the 16th of every month, to the Ontario Works office. You must complete this to ensure your benefits are not interrupted. Your cheque will come in four part format as follows:
- a cheque or direct deposit notice,
- a cheque stub,
- a drug card and
- an income reporting statement.
To avoid a delay in payment, it is crucial that you detach and send your fully completed, signed and dated income reporting statement before the 16th day of each month. A sample Income Reporting Statement along with an overview of your social assistance cheque is available here.
Completing your income statement
While in receipt of Ontario Works assistance, you must declare any income or money that you receive. The only exceptions are child tax credit, GST and income-tax rebates. Make sure to declare all other money you receive on your income statement.
To complete an income statement, enter the total income received in the box that corresponds with the income type. For example, if you received employment earnings, enter that amount in the top-left box.
Do Not forget...
- When returning your income statement, you must provide copies of pay or cheque stubs. Also, remember to declare any tips or bonuses that you receive. If you are unable to do this, please attach a note explaining what happened, and send the note with your income statement.
- It is very important that you fill in every box on the income statement. Enter either the total income for you, your spouse or dependent, or mark "NIL" if the box does not apply to you.
For the first three months
For the first three months on assistance, employment income is deducted dollar-for-dollar.
After three months
After three months of assistance, employment income will be deducted based on a calculated exemption amount and percentage of earnings. However, you must still report your full earnings on the income statement.
Below are links for more information about Ontario Works Employment Supports:
Provides an opportunity for participants to update their skills, gain experience, and develop a network to get a job.
Employment Resource Centres
Referrals are made to Employment Resource Centres located throughout the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville. They provide services such as Internet Access, career information, computer, employment counsellors, resume and cover letter preparation, local newspapers, fax service, photocopiers, telephone access and more. More information is available on the Employment Assistance page.
Assists participants in their job search efforts. Employment Placement attempts to match participants to paid employment opportunities.
Learning, Earning and Parenting
Helps young parents aged 16-21 years old complete their education and to become self-reliant. Participation in LEAP is a requirement for 16 and 17-year old parents who have not completed high school. Additional information regarding this program is available on the Learning, Earning and Parenting page.
Literacy Screening and Training
Participants with less than grade 12 education must complete a literacy screening test. This will help the case manager determine the best employment assistance activities for the participant. This may include referrals to literacy programs and/or educational upgrading.
Different people have different needs. That's why Ontario Works has a number of ways to help you. There are a range of activities set out by the Province of Ontario, that can be selected individually or in combination, as the requirements for an individual's eligibility for financial assistance. This applies to applicants or participants, spouses or same sex-partners and dependent adults. Dependent children under age eighteen have eligibility requirements that are unique to their age.
A recipient and any prescribed dependents may be required as a condition of eligibility for basic financial assistance to,
a) satisfy community participation activities
b) participate in employment activities
c) accept and undertake basic education and job specific skills training
d) accept and maintain employment
Failure to Comply
If an applicant, recipient or dependant fails to comply with or meet a condition of their eligibility, the Case Manager may:
- Refuse to grant assistance
- Declare the person ineligible for assistance for a prescribed period
- Reduce or cancel assistance
- Suspend assistance
What if I Can't Participate?
Every participant is required to participate in one or more employment assistance activity.
The Case Manager may temporarily defer requirements for participants who meet at least one of the following criteria:
- The participant is a sole support parent with at least one dependent child
- The participant is a sole support parent with at least one child for whom, temporary care assistance is being received
- The participant is a caregiver for a family member and the Case Manager is satisfied,
There are exceptional circumstances that apply to the participant.
- that the family member requires care due to a disability, illness or old age, and
- The documentation provided verifies that participation is impracticable
- The participant is 65 years of age or older
Your degree of participation is made in consultation with your Case Manager.
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