Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Employment and Social Services?
Employment and Social Services provides employment services, social supports and financial benefits. Staff in offices across Toronto deliver the Ontario Works program and support City initiatives. Each office has an Employment Centre, open to all residents. For more information visit: About Us.
What is Ontario Works? What happened to welfare?
Ontario Works is the name of the social assistance program that Employment and Social Services delivers for the Province of Ontario. Through the Ontario Works program, Employment and Social Services provides employment services and financial benefits. ‘Welfare’ is an older term used to refer to the social assistance program.
How do I know if I might be eligible for Ontario Works?
Eligibility for Ontario Works is based on meeting financial and program criteria, and depends on your income, assets, housing situation and more. The online application allows you to find out whether you qualify before you start the application process.
How do I apply for Ontario Works benefits in Toronto?
To apply for Ontario Works you may apply online or call one of the application phone lines. If it appears that you qualify, you will need to attend an in-person interview. For more information visit: Applying for Ontario Works in Toronto.
How do I find out which office is in my neighbourhood?
Toronto residents are welcome to use any Employment Centre.
People who are applying for or receiving Ontario Works are helped at offices according to their postal codes. Find your office by postal code or address or see the full list of locations and phone numbers, including TTC directions.
What is the Ontario Disability Support Program and how do I apply?
The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is the provincial social assistance program for people with disabilities. Read about how to apply to the Ontario Disability Support Program.
Apart from help with my basic needs, what other benefits are available?
If you are receiving Ontario Works there are a number of benefits and supports that you may be eligible for.
There are also some benefits for people who are not receiving social assistance.
How much money can I receive from Employment and Social Services?
The Ontario Works rates, including food and shelter amounts, are set by the provincial government’s Ministry of Community and Social Services. The amount of money you can receive is based on your situation (such as family size, income, assets, housing costs and some other factors).
Can Employment and Social Services deposit my money into my bank account?
Yes. Through Direct Bank Deposit, monthly Ontario Works payments are sent to your personal bank account.
How do I find out if my cheque or deposit has been sent to me?
To find out information about your payments you may call the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) telephone line. You can also contact your Employment and Social Services office and talk to your caseworker.
Our payment schedule lists the dates that payments are sent out.
Where do I cash my cheque if I do not have a bank account?
If you do not have a bank account, you can cash your Ontario Works cheque at any Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) branch for free. Take your identification when you go to the bank.
To cash your cheque you will need:
|One of the following documents:
- Valid Provincial Driver’s Licence
- Valid Canadian Passport
- Canadian Citizen Certification Card
- Immigration Document (IMM 1442) with photograph and signature
- Federal Penitentiary Parole Card
- Federal Native Canadian Card
- Old Age Security Card
|Or two of the following signed documents:
- Valid credit card
- Social Insurance Card
- Probation Card
- Bail papers
- Immigration Document (IMM 1442) with signature only
- Foreign Passport with Immigration Document (IMM 1442)
- Canadian Birth Certificate
- Canadian Military Identification Card
If you open a bank account you can sign up for Direct Bank Deposit.
Where can I get information about the Ontario Child Benefit?
The Ontario Child Benefit is a program to assist all low income families with children under the age of 18 years.
The Canada Revenue Agency will determine if you can receive this benefit once your (and your spouse’s) income tax return is assessed and you have registered for the Canada Child Tax Benefit.
Read more about the Ontario Child Benefit (OCB).
How do I reach my caseworker?
You can reach your caseworker by phone, by mail, or by visiting the office. You should make an appointment before coming to the office. Employment and Social Services offices are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday (except holidays).
For the phone number and address of your local office, visit: Contact Us.
Who do I speak to if I can’t reach my caseworker?
If you leave a message for your caseworker, you should hear back within one business day.
If your caseworker is unavailable and your matter is urgent, you may call the office and ask to speak to another caseworker. A supervisor may also be able to help you.
What kinds of changes should I report?
It is important to contact your caseworker if there are any changes in your situation. For detailed information, visit: reporting changes and income reporting.
What do I do if I get a letter saying my Ontario Works is suspended or cancelled?
If you get a letter saying your Ontario Works Basic Financial Assistance is suspended or cancelled, it is important to quickly send in any information that the letter asks for, or contact your caseworker to talk about the situation.
To check the status of your case, you may also call the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) telephone line.
What if I disagree with a decision my caseworker makes about my case?
While applying for or receiving Ontario Works, if you disagree with a decision you can ask for a review.
Who can I call if I have a concern about service?
If you have any concerns about the service you receive, you may speak with a supervisor or contact the Client Service and Information Unit.
What help is available for people who are leaving Ontario Works?
If you leave Ontario Works you may continue to qualify for health benefits. There is also some other help available if you start to work.
Does Employment and Social Services also help people who are not eligible for Ontario Works?
Yes. We offer help to all residents through Employment Centres throughout the city. In addition, many employment and community projects that we are involved in are open to all residents. For more information visit: ESS in Action.
Employment and Social Services can help some people with low incomes who aren’t eligible for Ontario Works benefits. This can include help with energy costs, funeral costs and medical supplies (including diabetic supplies, glasses, hearing aids and wheelchairs for example). For more information visit: Help for people not receiving social assistance.
What can I do if I receive a utility (gas, hydro or oil) disconnection notice? Is there help to pay for security deposits or reconnection costs?
If you are receiving Ontario Works assistance, speak to your caseworker for help with energy arrears.
If you are not receiving Ontario Works assistance, you can apply for the Emergency Energy Fund for help paying late gas, hydro or oil bills, as well as reconnection costs and security deposits.
| Employment services and other supports:
Can Employment and Social Services help me find work?
Yes. Employment and Social Services can help you with a wide-range of employment services. You can also get help from our staff at any of our Employment Centres.
Who can use Employment and Social Services' Employment Centres?
All Toronto residents can use the Employment Centres. No appointment is necessary.
Who can help me find child care?
If you are receiving Ontario Works while working, going to school or in a program, you can get help with child care.
Your caseworker can refer you to Toronto Children's Services for subsidized child care. If you are not receiving social assistance, contact Children’s Services directly at 416-392-KIDS (5437).
Can Employment and Social Services help me find a place to live?
If you need help finding a place to live, visit Finding housing.
If you are receiving Ontario Works and you are moving, you should also talk to your caseworker. You may be eligible for help with moving costs and more.