Assistance Through Ontario Works
Ontario Works provides money for food, shelter and other costs to people in financial need who meet the eligibility criteria.
Financial Assistance may include money for food, shelter, clothing and other household costs, the cost of prescription medications, and other help with health costs.
Employment Assistance may include options to help people find jobs or become more job-ready, money for training and other employment related expenses, and employment programs that offer career exploration, skill training and more.
Toronto delivers this provincial social assistance program according to the Ontario Works Act. Les services sociaux et d’emploi de Toronto (Toronto Employment & Social Services) offrent des services en français.
The monthly amount of assistance someone can receive from Ontario Works depends on family size, housing costs and income.
Read about monthly Ontario Works amounts that show the maximum monthly amounts for basic needs, shelter and board and lodging.
To qualify for Ontario Works assistance in Toronto, you must be:
- living in Toronto and have status in Canada
- aged 18 or over (16/17 if special circumstances exist, such as abuse or if there is no home/financial support available)
- in financial need (your household doesn’t have enough money to meet basic living expenses
willing to make reasonable efforts to find, get ready for or keep a job (unless you have medical or special circumstances that stop you from being able to do so).
If you live in Toronto, your eligibility for Ontario Works assistance will be assessed during either a telephone application or an online application. If it appears that you qualify, you will need to attend an in-person interview.
The office you will receive assistance from is determined by your postal code. You can use the Office Finder to learn which office serves your postal code.
If you are homeless, you may apply by calling 416-338-8888 or you can walk in to any Employment and Social Services office to apply.
If you do not speak English or French you will need an interpreter when you call to apply. For help finding an interpreter, visit 211Toronto.
You can apply for Ontario Works online at any time.
After you have completed answering all the questions and you have submitted your application online, you will need to attend an in-person interview where you will meet your caseworker to sign the application forms and learn more about the Ontario Works program.
Usually this in-person appointment takes place at your local Employment and Social Services office. If you are not able to physically come to the office, other arrangements can be made. You may want to take a look, below, at what information will be required before you apply.
Application Centre phone number: 416-338-8888
TTY line for persons who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing: 416-392-2823
Toll free number: 1-888-465-4478
The Application Centre is open on Mondays through Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours until 6 p.m. on Mondays. It is closed on weekends and public holidays.
The wait time is generally shorter between 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. and after 2:30 p.m.
When you call our Application Centre in Toronto, a caseworker will take your information over the phone. In order to determine your eligibility, the caseworker will ask you to provide personal and financial information about yourself and each family member included in your application. This phone call takes about 30 – 45 minutes.
If you appear to qualify for benefits, the caseworker at the Application Centre will schedule an in-person interview for you at an Employment and Social Services office. The caseworker will tell you what information to bring and where the office is.
Note: If you are not able to physically come to the Employment and Social Services office, tell the caseworker. The caseworker may be able to make other appointment arrangements for you.
A caseworker from an Employment and Social Services office finalizes your application during an in-person interview. This interview usually takes place at an Employment and Social Services office. If you have a spouse or dependent 18 years or older living with you, they also need to attend the interview. The information you provided during the telephone interview or online application will be reviewed and verified.
You (and your spouse and dependent over 18 if applicable) will be asked to sign the application form and other required forms based on your situation.
If you are homeless, you may apply by calling 416-338-8888 or you can walk in to any Employment & Social Services office to apply.
Reapplying for Assistance
If you were receiving Ontario Works benefits in Toronto and your file was closed within the past six months, call your former caseworker to reapply. Your caseworker will ask you to provide information about your situation and to provide documents to support your need for benefits.
Examples of Information Required for an Application
When you apply, be sure to have the following types of information ready:
- Birth Certificate
- Social Insurance Number
- Ontario Health Card
- Immigration document (such as Record of Landing or Permanent Residence Card)
- pay stubs
- copies of pay cheques
- Employment Insurance stubs
- details about support payments or other income
- updated bank books
- RRSP documents
- life insurance documents
- vehicle ownership papers
- property ownership information
- rent receipt
- landlord information
- mortgage papers
- home/content insurance premiums
- utilities and heating costs
- condominium maintenance fees
Within four business days of providing all needed documents you will be told whether or not you qualify for assistance, and for how much. You will be assigned a caseworker who will be your primary contact while you receive assistance.
Read about your Rights and Responsibilities related to receiving Ontario Works Assistance.
The following topics or services may be helpful while you are receiving Ontario Works Assistance.
- Applying for Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) – how to apply through Ontario Works
- Family Support Program – we help parents with child and spousal support, and to find services that improve family finances and quality of life
- Interactive Voice Response – call this telephone line to get information about your social assistance payments
- Internal Reviews and Appeals – what to do if you disagree with a decision about your payments or eligibility
- Client Services & Information Unit provides information on services offered by Toronto Employment & Social Services and answers questions about legislation and procedures related to Ontario Works.
- Make a Complaint or Pay a Compliment – how to reach us
- Ontario Works Payment Schedule – see the monthly schedule of payment dates for Ontario Works recipients
- Payment Methods – receiving assistance through direct bank deposit or the reloadable RBC Right Pay Card
- Tax Slips – How to get your T5007, a tax document issued to people who have received social assistance
- Ontario Electricity Support Program – learn how you could save on your monthly electricity bill
- Email and text messaging services – subscribe to receive information such as appointment reminders and office updates electronically
- Fair Pass Discount Program – learn how you could receive a transit discount on a TTC adult fare or monthly pass
Other Ontario Works Benefits You May Receive
Beyond the monthly Ontario Works amount, Ontario Works provides other supports for child and family, housing, employment and health.
See below a list of additional Ontario Works benefits available to those eligible:
|Child & Family Support/
|Money for Child Care When Starting Work or Training – Child Care Start-Up Benefit||People on Ontario Works may receive money to pay one month of childcare in advance if this is required to start work or begin an employment assistance activity such as training.|
|Child & Family Support||Money for Young Parents Pursuing Education – LEAP Benefits||The Learning, Earning and Parenting (LEAP) Program helps young parents on Ontario Works complete high school, get job ready and improve parenting skills through its three elements: Learning, Earning Parenting.|
|Child & Family Support||Money While Caring for Someone Else’s Child – Temporary Care Assistance||Ontario Works Temporary Care Assistance can be paid to an adult who is temporarily caring for a child who is not their own, if the child is in financial need.|
|Child & Family Support||Money While Waiting for the Ontario Child Benefit – Transition Child Benefit||Most families on social assistance with children under 18 also receive the monthly Ontario Child Benefit (OCB). Parents on Ontario Works not yet receiving OCB payments may temporarily receive the Transition Child Benefit (TCB).|
|Child & Family Support||Subsidy for Recreation Programs – Welcome Policy||The City of Toronto’s Welcome Policy provides a fee subsidy to help low income individuals and families who live in Toronto access City-operated recreation programs.|
|Housing Support||Emergency Housing Help – Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF)||The Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) provides money for emergency housing needs to people receiving financial assistance through Ontario Works or income support through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) in the city of Toronto. HSF is intended to prevent homelessness and help obtain and retain housing.|
|Housing Support||Money for Home Energy Conservation Supplies||People on Ontario Works may receive a one-time payment of up to $50 to reimburse the cost of home energy conservation supplies.|
|Housing Support||Money to Buy Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors||Homeowners receiving Ontario Works Assistance may receive a one-time payment to buy smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors.|
|Employment Support||Money for Employment-Related or Training Costs – Employment Related Expenses||People on Ontario Works may receive money for employment and school-related costs. This money can help with transportation and other related expenses.|
|Employment Support / Health Support||Help With Health Costs when Leaving Ontario Works – Extended Employment Health Benefit||People leaving Ontario Works because they are starting work or getting other income may continue to receive help with health costs for a period of time after they stop receiving monthly payments from Ontario Works.|
|Employment Support||Money When Starting Part-Time Employment – Other Employment Assistance Activities Benefit||People on Ontario Works may receive money when beginning an employment-related activity such as training, or starting self-employment or part-time work.|
|Employment Support||Money When Starting Full-Time Employment||People on Ontario Works may receive money to help cover costs related to starting full-time employment.|
|Health Support||Dental coverage||Dental coverage is available for children whose parents receive Ontario Works or Temporary Care Assistance.
Adults who receive Ontario Works eligible for emergency dental treatments.
Families receiving Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) are eligible for specific dental services.
|Health Support||Eyeglasses and Eye Exams||People who receive Ontario Works may receive help to buy eyeglasses.|
|Health Support||Funeral Expenses||Coverage for basic funeral expenses may be provided on behalf of deceased Toronto residents who do not have enough money in their estate to cover these costs.|
|Health Support||Medical Supplies and Devices||People receiving assistance from Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and other low-income Toronto residents may receive help to pay for medical supplies, equipment and devices.|
|Health Support||Medication||People on Ontario Works automatically qualify to have the cost of their prescription medications covered|
|Health Support||Support for Seniors -Advanced Age Item||People on Ontario Works who are 65 years of age or older will receive an additional monthly amount to help cover the costs of personal needs due to advanced age.|
|Health Support||Coverage for Guide Dogs||People on Ontario Works may receive money towards the care and feeding costs of a certified guide, hearing or service dog.|
|Health Support||Medical Transportation||People on Ontario Works may receive money for transportation costs to attend medical appointments.|
|Health Support||Special Diet||People on Ontario Works may be able to receive money to cover the additional cost of food required for specific medical conditions.|
|Employment Support||Ontario Works Training Programs||People on Ontario Works may qualify for a variety of training programs.|