What is Ontario Works?

Ontario Works helps low-income individuals and families afford basic living expenses such as food and shelter. The program also offers employment assistance to help recipients find and secure jobs.

What are the eligibility requirements for Ontario Works?

You may qualify for Ontario Works if you’re:

  • an Ontario resident 
  • 16 years of age or older
  • unable to afford your immediate family’s living expenses
  • working or willing to make a reasonable effort to find and secure a job (unless you have medical or special circumstances that prevent you from doing so)

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How much can I receive from Ontario Works?

There are two types of assistance available:

  • Child and family support: You could get $733 per month for essential living expenses such as food, clothing, and housing. Additional amounts may be provided as benefits and for other family members who live with you. Please refer to the monthly Ontario Works amounts to see the maximum you can collect for basic needs, shelter, board, and lodging.
  • Employment support: As an Ontario Works recipient, you’ll gain access to valuable services that help you find and secure a job. Services include basic education, job training, resume writing workshops, job counselling, and more.

Keep in mind the amount of money you receive depends on your family size, housing costs, income, and other factors. In most cases, financial support is dependent on your participation in employment-related activities. 

When is Ontario Works paid?

Ontario Works is paid monthly by cheque or direct deposit. 

Here are the payment dates for the upcoming year:

Benefit month

Payment date

December 2020

November 30

January 2021

January 18

February 2021

February 16

March 2021

March 17

April 2021

April 19

May 2021

May 17

June 2021

June 16

July 2021

July 19

August 2021

August 18

September 2021

September 17

October 2021

October 18

November 2021

November 17

What other Ontario Works benefits can I receive?

Ontario Works offers more than just the monthly amount. Depending on your situation, you may qualify for additional family, housing, employment, and health support. Contact your caseworker or local Ontario Works office to find out which benefits you may qualify for.

Child & family

  • LEAP program: The Learning, Earning, and Parenting (LEAP) program helps young parents complete high school and gain work experience. Program members can receive $233 per month on top of their monthly Ontario Works payment. 
  • Newborn allowance: Parents with newborns can get up to $260 for a crib and up to $100 for baby essentials.
  • Temporary care assistance: If you’re caring for a child who is not your own, you may receive $274 for the first child and $224 for each additional child.
  • Transition Child Benefit (TCB): You can collect up to $230 per month for each child while waiting for your Ontario Child Benefit payments to arrive.
  • Child Care Start-up Benefit: You can get one month of child care costs covered if you need to start work or job training. Additional child care support may be provided if you participate in employment-related activities.

Learn more about child-related benefits here.

Employment

  • Full-time Employment Benefit: Get financial assistance for tools, work boots, uniforms, professional fees, and other work-related expenses when starting a new job.
  • Coverage for employment assistance activity expenses: Receive help for transportation costs and other fees when participating in employment-related activities.

Learn more about employment-related benefits here.

Housing

  • Energy conservation supplies: A one-time payment of up to $50 can go towards flow restrictors for showerheads, insulation for hot water pipes and tanks, caulking, and sealing or weather-stripping for doors and windows.
  • Home safety supplies: Homeowners on Ontario Works can receive a one-time payment for smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Emergency housing help: The Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) prevents homelessness in Toronto by providing emergency housing to Ontario Works recipients.

Learn more about housing-related benefits here.

Health

  • Prescription drug coverage: Prescription drugs listed in the Ontario Drug Formulary and prescribed by an approved healthcare professional are covered for you and your family.
  • Dental coverage: Children aged 17 and under will automatically be enrolled in Healthy Smiles Ontario, a program offering free preventive, routine, and emergency dental services for kids. Adults are eligible for emergency dental treatments under the Ontario Works dental program.
  • Vision care and eye exams: If you’re aged 20 to 64, Ontario Works will cover the cost of an eye exam once every 24 months. You may also receive help to buy or repair eyeglasses.
  • Prescribed diabetic or surgical supplies and dressings: Ontario Works may pay for these expenses if you don’t have coverage already.
  • Travel for medical purposes: Transportation expenses for medical, rehabilitation or counselling appointments may be covered.
  • Assistive devices: Assistive devices such as visual and hearing aids, orthotics, prosthetics, wheelchairs, and medical supplies may be paid for by Ontario Works and the Assistive Devices Program. 
  • Coverage for guide dogs: Ontario Works can help pay for the care of your certified service dog. 
  • Funeral expenses: Basic funeral expenses may be provided on behalf of the deceased if they don’t have enough money in their estate to cover the costs. 
  • Extended health benefits: You may still be able to access Extended Health Benefits if you have expensive health costs but no longer qualify for Ontario Works.

Learn more about health-related benefits here.

How do I apply and get approved for Ontario Works?

There are five steps to getting approved for Ontario Works:

  1. Apply online or over the phone
  2. You can apply online or by calling 1-888-465-4478. Make sure you have your family’s identification and tax documents available such as social insurance numbers, OHIP cards, birth certificates, immigration papers, tax returns, and banking information. Remember to include every member of your immediate family in your application and be ready to give a detailed list of your monthly income and expenses like housing costs and child care. The entire process should take 20 to 30 minutes to complete. 

  3. Application review
  4. Your application will be reviewed right away and a caseworker from your local Ontario Works office will contact you within four business days to schedule a verification appointment. 

  5. Meet with a caseworker
  6. Your caseworker may ask you to show copies of bills and other documents so they can verify the information in your application. You’ll also need to sign an application package to give Ontario Works consent to access information about you from other government programs and organizations (i.e. Employment Insurance, Ministry of Transportation, and Equifax Canada). The information they gather will help to determine your eligibility for the program.

  7. Get approved and receive payment
  8. After all the required information is received and processed, your caseworker will reach out within four business days to tell you if your application was approved or denied. If it’s approved, you’ll find out how much you’re entitled to and when your first payment will arrive.

  9. Take part in employment-related activities
  10. To continue collecting Ontario Works payments, you’ll need to participate in employment assistance activities and try to find a job (unless you have special circumstances that prevent you from doing so). You and your caseworker will create an employment plan based on your skills, experience, and situation and identify what you need to become employed. Employment assistance activities range from interview preparation and training programs to resume writing workshops and job counselling.