||Updated November 2012
This section is an excerpt from the Ontario Works Act, 1997 prescribed by the Province of Ontario.
Ontario Works Act
Eligibility for income assistance
No person is eligible for income assistance unless,
the budgetary requirements of the person and any dependants exceed their income and their assets do not exceed the prescribed limits, as provided for in the regulations;
Ontario Works Regulations
Information to be provided
The administrator shall determine that a person is not eligible for income assistance if the person fails to provide the information the administrator requires to determine initial or ongoing eligibility for income assistance, including information with respect to,
the receipt or disposition of assets; and
the receipt or expected receipt of income or some other financial resource.
The Director may require that a member of a benefit unit provide monthly reports to the administrator respecting,
the income and assets of members of the benefit unit;
Agreements to reimburse and assignments
If an applicant or recipient or a spouse included in the benefit unit has applied for income support under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997, the administrator may require, as a condition of eligibility for basic financial assistance, that the member of the benefit unit or the person authorized to act for that member agree in writing to reimburse all or any part of the assistance, if, upon final disposition of the application under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997, the applicant or recipient or the spouse is determined to be not eligible for income support under that Act.
The amount of reimbursement required by an agreement referred to in subsection (1) shall be the lesser of,
the financial assistance provided to the benefit unit during the months in which the asset limit set out in subsection 38 (2) was applied to the benefit unit by virtue of the application under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997; and
the value of the assets for the benefit unit that was in excess of the asset limit set out in subsection 38 (1) on the day of the final disposition of the application.
For the purpose of subsection 19 (2) of the Act, the prescribed overpayment amount is the amount that would have been payable to the administrator under an agreement made under subsection (1).
Form, etc., of application for basic financial assistance
The administrator may require an applicant to provide information necessary to determine and verify the applicant's eligibility for basic financial assistance, including the following information with respect to any member of the benefit unit:
Information with respect to the person's income and assets.
Refusal, cancellation or reduction of assistance
Assignment or transfer of assets
If a member of an applicant's benefit unit has made an assignment or transfer of assets within the year preceding the date of the application and, in the opinion of the administrator, the consideration for the assignment or transfer was inadequate or a purpose of the assignment or transfer was to reduce the value of assets in order to qualify for assistance, the administrator shall,
determine that the applicant is not eligible for assistance; or
reduce the amount of assistance to compensate for the inadequate consideration or the value of the assets assigned or transferred.
Subsection (1) applies with necessary modifications with respect to a recipient if a member of the recipient's benefit unit has made an assignment or transfer of assets within the year preceding the date of the recipient's application for assistance or any time thereafter.
If the administrator has reason to believe that an assignment or transfer referred to in subsection (1) occurred more than a year before the date of the application and within three years before that date, he or she may inquire into the circumstances and may refuse or reduce assistance under subsection (1) or (2).
Prescribed limits for assets
Subject to subsections (2) and (3), the prescribed limit for assets for a benefit unit, for the purposes of clause 7 (3) (b) of the Act, is equal to,
if the applicant or recipient is a single person, $606;
if the applicant or recipient has a spouse included in the benefit unit and there are no other dependants, $1,043;
if the applicant or recipient has a spouse included in the benefit unit and there are one or more other dependants, $1,735 for the applicant or recipient, the spouse and one other dependant plus $500 for each additional dependant;
if the applicant or recipient has no spouse included in the benefit unit and there are one or more dependants, $1,657 for the applicant or recipient and one dependant plus $500 for each additional dependant; and
if the applicant or recipient is a person to whom subsection 11 (2) or (4) applies, $500 for each dependent child.
If an applicant or recipient or a spouse included in the benefit unit has applied for income support under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997, the prescribed limit for assets for the benefit unit is the amount calculated in accordance with Part IV of Ontario Regulation 222/98 (General) made under that Act.
Subsection (2) applies only once with respect to a benefit unit and shall continue to apply until the application under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997 is finally disposed of.
Determination of assets
For the purpose of section 38, the following are not included as assets:
Subject to paragraph 2, a person's interest in the principal residence for the benefit unit.
If a person has an interest in property that includes his or her principal residence and the property is normally used for a purpose other than as the principal residence for the benefit unit, that portion of the interest in the property that may reasonably be regarded as attributable to the principal residence, as determined by the administrator.
That portion of the sale price of property that is or will be applied, with the approval of the administrator, to the purchase of a principal residence for the benefit unit.
An interest in property of a child on whose behalf temporary care assistance is provided, if that property is not used as the child's principal residence and there is an arrangement with respect to the interest that is approved by the administrator as necessary for the child's health or welfare.
Subject to subsection (2),
with respect to one motor vehicle, the lesser of the value of the person's interest in it and $10,000, and
if there are additional motor vehicles that are required to enable persons to participate in employment assistance activities or to maintain employment, for each additional vehicle the lesser of the value of the person's interest in the vehicle and $10,000.
Tools of the trade that are essential to the employment of a member of the benefit unit.
Subject to paragraphs 8 and 9, for persons who are self-employed, business assets that are necessary to the operation of their business, up to a maximum, for each person in the benefit unit who is self-employed and for each business, of $10,000 or a greater amount approved by the administrator.
If more than one person in the benefit unit is self-employed in the same business, the amount under paragraph 7 for that business shall not exceed $10,000 or the greater amount approved by the administrator.
If one person in the benefit unit is self-employed in more than one business, the amount under paragraph 7 for that person shall not exceed $10,000 or the greater amount approved by the administrator.
That portion of a student or trainee loan, grant or award approved by the administrator, so long as the person for whose benefit the loan, grant or award is provided remains in attendance in the program of study or training for which it is intended.
A prepaid funeral up to an amount approved by the Director.
Subject to subsection (3), an amount received as compensation for pain and suffering or expenses incurred or to be incurred as a result of an injury to or the death of a member of the benefit unit.
Subject to subsection (3), an amount received as an award for damages under clause 61 (2) (e) of the Family Law Act to compensate for loss of guidance, care and companionship as a result of death or injury.
Subject to subsection (3), an amount received as compensation for non-economic loss under section 46 of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 or section 42 of the Workers' Compensation Act.
A payment received under any of the following agreements to which the Province of Ontario is a party:
The Helpline Reconciliation Model Agreement.
The Multi-Provincial/Territorial Assistance Program Agreement.
The Grandview Agreement.
The earnings of a dependent child or the amount paid to a dependent child under a training program.
The earnings of a dependent adult who is attending secondary school full time or the amount paid to a dependent adult under a training program while the dependent adult is attending school or the training program.
The earnings of a dependent adult made while the dependent adult was attending secondary school full time or a training program if the earnings,
are being used for training or post-secondary education costs, or
within a reasonable period as determined by the administrator, are to be used for training or post-secondary education costs.
The earnings of, or an amount paid under a training program to, any member of a benefit unit in attendance in a program of study at a post-secondary institution or earned or paid in the 16 weeks preceding attendance if,
the member of the benefit unit is enrolled in at least 60 per cent of a full-time course load,
the member of the benefit unit,
is enrolled in a program of study approved under section 7 of Ontario Regulation 268/01 (Ontario Student Loans Made After July 31, 2001) made under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act, or
is enrolled in a program of study at an institution approved under section 8 of Ontario Regulation 268/01, that prepares the member of the benefit unit for application for registration by a regulated profession named in Schedule 1 to the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, 2006 or for application for registration by a health profession named in Schedule 1 to the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991,
the earnings or the amount paid are used for the approved program of study referenced in subparagraph ii, and
the earnings are earned or the amount is paid while the person is a member of a benefit unit that is in receipt of income assistance under the Act or income support under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997.
An interest in real property of a dependent child, other than an interest described in paragraph 1, if reasonable efforts are being made to sell the property.
A payment received under the Extraordinary Assistance Plan (Canada).
That portion of a loan that the administrator is satisfied will be applied within a reasonable period to the payment of first and last month's rent necessary to secure accommodation for the benefit unit.
That portion of a loan that the administrator is satisfied will be applied within a reasonable period to the purchase of a motor vehicle required for a participant's employment assistance activities or for a person to maintain employment.
A payment received under the Ontario Hepatitis C Assistance Plan.
That portion of a payment received under the Ministry of Community and Social Services Act for a person's successful participation in a program of activities described in clause 2 (3) (e), paragraph 3 of subsection 10 (7) or paragraph 9 of section 26 if, within a reasonable period as determined by the administrator, it is to be used for the person's post-secondary education.
A Registered Education Savings Plan, as defined in section 146.1 of the Income Tax Act (Canada), held by a subscriber in respect of a beneficiary who is related to the subscriber by blood, marriage or adoption.
Funds held in a registered disability savings plan as defined in subsection 146.4 (1) of the Income Tax Act (Canada).
A payment received under the Pre-1986/Post-1990 Hepatitis C Settlement Agreement made as of December 14, 2006 among the Attorney General of Canada and Class Action Representative Plaintiffs, other than a payment for loss of income under section 2.05 of the Agreement, a payment for loss of services under section 2.06 of the Agreement and compensation to dependants under section 4.04 of the Agreement.
A lump sum payment received under the 1986-1990 Hepatitis C Settlement Agreement made as of June 15, 1999 among the Attorney General of Canada, Her Majesty the Queen in right of Ontario and others, other than a loss of income payment or a loss of support payment.
A payment received from Human Resources Development Canada under the program called the "Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities", if the payment has been or will be applied to costs incurred or to be incurred as a result of participation in employment-related activities that have been approved by the administrator.
A payment received under the Walkerton Compensation Plan, other than a payment for future lost income.
Money paid under a contract of insurance for loss of or damage to real or personal property of a member of a benefit unit if the money, in the opinion of the administrator, will be applied within a reasonable period to a purpose set out in paragraph 15 of subsection 54 (1).
Payments made by a local Disaster Relief Committee established pursuant to the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program administered by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, other than payments for loss of income, if, in the opinion of the administrator, the payment will be used within a reasonable period for the purpose for which it was made.
An amount received as compensation, other than compensation for loss of income, related to a claim of abuse sustained at an Indian residential school, including compensation received under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
A personal credit within the meaning of section 5.07 of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
The value of grants, items or services provided for the purposes of energy efficiency and conservation by gas distribution utilities, local distribution companies, a municipality, the Ontario Power Authority, the Government of Ontario or the Government of Canada.
Payments made under the Quest for Gold - Ontario Athlete Assistance Program, administered by the Ministry of Health Promotion.
The limits set out in paragraph 5 of subsection (1) apply only after the person has been in continuous receipt of income assistance for at least six months.
The total amount allowed under paragraphs 12, 12.1 and 12.2 of subsection (1) shall not exceed $25,000.
Recovery of overpayments and deductions Re money owed for support, etc.
If a recipient ceases to be eligible because of an increase in the value of assets, the amount recoverable under section 19 of the Act shall not exceed the difference between,
the maximum value of the assets owned by the persons who were members of the benefit unit when the person was ineligible; and
the maximum value of assets permitted under section 38.
Definition of Assets
The assessment of initial and ongoing eligibility includes the documentation and verification of any asset currently held by, expected or recently disposed of by any member of the benefit unit. The applicant is responsible for providing information and verification on behalf of all members of the benefit unit.
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.
Liquid Assets are defined as cash, bonds, stocks, certificates, the cash surrender value of a life insurance policy, interest in real property, debentures, a beneficial interest in assets held in trust or any other type of property which can be readily converted into cash and used for maintenance. Liquid Assets are considered Accessible Assets as they can readily be converted to cash.
Non-liquid Assets are assets that cannot be readily converted into cash such as: a non-accessible employee pension. These assets are considered Inaccessible Assets as the client cannot immediately convert them to cash.
The worker must determine the value of an applicant's or participant's assets and the asset level of the benefit unit to determine if the applicant or participant is eligible for assistance. The definition of assets and its exceptions, the asset levels, and the treatment of various assets assist the worker in determining eligibility.
|OW Allowable Asset Levels OW Regs. 38 (1)|
||The asset level is equal to one month's maximum assistance, $606.
|Couples Without Children
||The asset level is equal to one month's maximum assistance, $1,043.
|Couples With Children
||The asset level is equal to $1,735 for the applicant, spouse and one dependant plus $500 for each additional dependant.
|Sole Support Parents
||The asset level is equal to $1,657 for applicant and one dependant plus $500 for each additional dependant.
|Temporary Care Assistance
||The asset level is $500 for each child receiving temporary care assistance
|ODSP Allowable Asset Levels ODSP Regs. Part IV Section 27, 28|
|Single Person /Head of Benefit Unit
||The asset level is $5,000.
||The asset level of $2,500.
||Plus $500 for each dependant.
Applicants who intend to apply for ODSP (this includes clients over the age of 65 who are not eligible for Old Age Security (OAS)) and whose current asset levels exceed the OW allowable asset level, can have the ODSP assets levels applied for the purpose of receiving financial assistance under OW one time only. This once in a lifetime exemption remains in place while the ODSP application is under adjudication (this includes any period of time the ODSP application may be under appeal).
OW applicants and participants who are applying to ODSP and have assets that exceed the OW asset limit but which are within the ODSP asset limits must as a condition of eligibility agree to reimburse financial assistance if found ineligible for the ODSP. Applicants who refuse to agree to reimburse the financial assistance paid will be ineligible to receive financial assistance. The amount of the reimbursement will be the lesser of the entire amount of financial assistance paid or an amount equivalent to the value of the assets in excess of the OW limit on the day of the final disposition of the ODSP application.
As of April 1, 2001, a participant must agree in writing to reimburse the lesser of the total amount paid or an amount equal to the value of the assets in excess of OW asset limit if found ineligible for ODSP.
Note: If the client's assets exceed the ODSP allowable level and the client identifies that the excess money is needed to purchase an approved disability-related item or service necessary for the health of any member of the benefit unit, he or she may be allowed to retain the excess assets and remain eligible for OW assistance. The excess amount cannot be greater than the total ODSP allowable asset level for the benefit unit plus $5,000.00. The case must be approved by the Manager, Social Services.
The following are not considered as assets when determining a client's eligibility for OW. For a more comprehensive list refer to OW Reg. 39.
Personal Property Including a Principal Residence
- Property used as a principal residence
- Items considered necessary for personal use such furniture, clothing etc.
- The portion of the sale price of an applicant's or participant's property that is applied or, where the Manager, Social Services approves, that will be applied to the purchase price of a principal residence of the applicant or participant;
- the purchase of a principal residence by the client or spouse for the use of the benefit unit, or
- the purchase of any other asset that in the opinion of the Manager, Social Services is necessary for the health, welfare or personal well being of the client or any dependent.
- the portion not used towards the purchase of an approved item is considered chargeable and is to be deducted at 100%.
- the Manager, Social Services may approve the purchase of a principal residence which increases shelter costs where it is necessary for the health and well being of the benefit unit.
For example: A family of 6 persons resides in a 2 bedroom condo. The condo is sold and the proceeds from the sale of this condo toward the purchase of a 4 bedroom townhouse.
- An interest in property of a dependent child, other than an interest in the principal residence, where it has been transferred to the child from a parent within the last year, if reasonable efforts are being made to sell the property and if the person who has authority to consent to a lien against the property has consented to the lien.
- An interest in property of a child in temporary care, if that property is not used as the child's principal residence and there is an arrangement with respect to the interest that is approved by the Administrator as necessary for the child's health or welfare.
Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs)
RDSPs are intended to help parents and others save for the long-term financial security of a person with a severe disability. In general, any person under the age of 60 who is eligible for the federal Disability Tax Credit and resident in Canada can establish an RDSP. If the person is a minor, their parent or legal representative may establish the RDSP for their benefit. Contributions to RDSPs may be supplemented by a Canada Disability Savings Grant and Canada Disability Savings Bond. For social assistance purposes:
- All funds held in RDSPs are exempt as assets
- All contributions made to RDSPs are exempt as income
- All income earned and re-invested in RDSPs is exempt as income
- All withdrawals from an RDSP for any purpose are exempt as income.
Awards Including An Amount For Pain And Suffering And/Or Expenses
Amounts received as compensation for pain and suffering, and/or expenses as a result of an injury to or death of a member of the benefit unit, up to a maximum of $25,000.00, are not to be considered as income and/or assets.
When reviewing the documentation on these awards the following payments are not excluded from the budget calculation:
- loss of earnings or other income,
- loss of employment, or,
- loss of companionship care and guidance.
In cases where more than one family member is granted an award, the maximum $25,000.00 exemption will apply to each awardee providing the awardee is the spouse or dependant of the client.
Payments under the following awards are exempt from income and assets without a maximum ceiling:
However, in some awards, there will be payments for items other than pain and suffering which may be considered in calculating OW eligibility.
- Helpline Reconciliation Model Agreement
- Grandview Agreement
- Multi-Provincial/Territorial Assistance Program and Extraordinary Assistance Plan
- the Ontario Hepatitis C Assistance Plan
- 1986-1990 Hepatitis C Settlement Agreement
- Federal Pre-1986/Post-1990 Hepatitis C Settlement Agreement
- Walkerton Compensation Plan
- Indian Residential Schools Compensation
Interest And Dividends From Exempted Awards
Any income, such as: interest, dividends, or investment income, earned on these exempted awards are treated as income in the month received, and, if retained, as assets in the following month.
Prepaid Funeral Plan
Prepaid funerals of any value are exempt as assets for social assistance purposes.
Quest for Gold - Ontario Athlete Assistance Program (OAAP)
All direct financial assistance provided to athletes under the OAAP is not to be included as income and assets for purposes of social assistance effective retroactively to January 11, 2006 when OAAP was first launched.
When reviewing assets of a self-employed client to determine ongoing eligibility, the following exemptions apply.
- business assets up to $10,000.00 (or more if approved by the Manager, Social Services) which are necessary to the operation of the business,
- per business where one or more member(s) of the benefit unit is involved in the business, or
- per self-employed person where he or she is involved in more than one business within the benefit unit,
- assets above $10,000.00 to a maximum of $15,000.00 must be reviewed as possible income generated by the business, and exempt as a liquid asset,
- cash as a business asset cannot exceed $3,000.00,
- tools of the trade that are essential to the employment of a member of the benefit unit are exempt as assets. They must be used at some time during a 12 month period to generate income to remain exempt.
Any loans received for business purposes are exempt as income providing the loan agreement is in writing, and there is a repayment plan.
NOTE: Loan money received and not used for its intended purposes is considered income.
If a client receives a loan to assist in securing accommodations this money may be considered exempt as an asset or income. These funds must be used within a reasonable period of time and used to pay first and last month's rent.
If a client receives a loan to purchase a motor vehicle which is required for a participant's employment assistance activities or for a person to maintain employment, this money is considered exempt as an asset or income. These funds must be used within a reasonable time to purchase the vehicle.
Loans for Household Items
Loans used for the purchase of household items necessary for the well-being of one or more members of the benefit unit are exempt as income. Household items necessary for the well-being of the benefit unit are such items as groceries, clothing, furniture and appliances.
Where practical, participants should obtain prior approval for these items.
Student Loans, Awards Or Grants
The portion of a student loan, award, or grant that is intended for allowable educational costs may be exempt.
Learning, Earning And Parenting (LEAP)
For the sole support parents aged 16 to 25 who participate in and complete the LEAP program, an incentive payment of $500 may be awarded. This payment will be considered exempt as an asset as long as the money is used towards the parent's post secondary education, or, if it is invested in an Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for one of the dependants.
The participant may retain one vehicle if the value of the vehicle is determined to be below $10,000. The participant may retain a second vehicle or additional vehicle if the participant can show that the motor vehicle is required to participate in employment assistance activities or to maintain employment, and the value of the vehicle is below $10,000.
The caseworker must advise the client that a vehicle will be considered as an asset once he or she has been in receipt of assistance for six months.
» the allowable equity in the vehicle is the lesser of the value of the person's interest in it and $10,000.
Other Types of Assets
Cash Surrender Value of Life Insurance Policies
The cash surrender value of the life insurance policy may be considered an asset under some circumstances.
Some applicants and participants may have purchased an annuity from a life insurance company. Annuities have characteristics similar to life insurance policies, including the possibility of cash surrender value.
There are various types of trust accounts and consideration for whether it is an asset depends on its type.
Collections and Antiques
Stamps or coin collections and antiques are considered assets. However, antiques that are necessary for personal use, e.g., furniture, are not considered assets.
A second property is considered as an asset in determining eligibility. Property outside Ontario, time-sharing condominiums or properties, and cooperatives are considered assets. Determining eligibility will be based on the applicant or participant's interest in the second property and will only include the portion attributed to the applicant or participant.
Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
RRSPs may be in the form of a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC), mutual fund or other type of investment. An RRSP is determined to be either accessible or not accessible (i.e. "locked in"). If an RRSP is accessible, the applicant or participant is expected to access these funds, regardless of the penalty involved.
The value of accessible RRSP funds is treated as an asset and the applicant or participant may then be deemed ineligible if total assets are above the allowable limit.
It may be necessary to obtain written notification from the financial institution to confirm that the funds are in fact not accessible since they are locked-in.
Locked-in Money Accessed under the Pension Benefits Act
Reforms to the Pension Benefits Act in 2000 allow for access to locked-in RRSPs upon request under specific circumstances of financial hardship. The intent of the changes to the Act was to add flexibility for a person facing financial hardship to access locked-in retirement accounts at the person's discretion. An applicant or participant is not required to access funds under this change.
The specified funds include:
- a Life Income Fund (LIF)
- a Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA)
- a Locked-In Retirement Income Fund (LRIF)
Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
RESPs held by any member of the benefit unit for children related to the person who set up the RESP are exempt as assets.
Earnings of a Dependent Child
When determining a benefit unit's assets, the earnings of a dependent child are not included.
Earnings of a Dependent Adult
Earnings of dependent adults in full-time attendance at secondary school or the amount paid to such dependent adults under a training program are exempt when determining income for the benefit unit. These earnings are exempt as assets while the dependent adult is attending school or a training program.
Earnings While Attending a Post-Secondary Educational Institution
Employment earnings (including self-employment) and the amounts paid under a training program can be exempt as income and assets for persons attending a full-time post-secondary educational program if eligibility criteria is met.
The asset exemption will apply to income earned or paid both during the school year and during the pre-study period, defined as a maximum of 16 weeks prior to the start of the study period.