Family Support Program – Ontario Works Assistance
Employment & Social Services helps Toronto parents on Ontario Works Assistance access support and find services that improve family finances and quality of life.
Through various partnerships and with our experience in the areas of child and spousal support, we can work with you to take some of the pressure off.
Parents who wish to pursue child support can get our advice and information about the process. We will help set up out-of-court support agreements or assist you at court if that is preferred. Because child support is not deducted from social assistance payments, families immediately improve their financial security when this support is in place. We will also help you to pursue spousal support, which is different than child support and is deductible from social assistance payments.
Additionally, we help parents on Ontario Works access related services and supports. There are many City of Toronto and community programs available for children and families. We want to make sure you know about them, and get you connected to the right services at the right time!
Family support workers are available in every Toronto Employment & Social Services office to help with support issues and provide you with information to strengthen your community ties. Ask your caseworker about how to connect with us or call us directly at 416-338-3800.
Connecting You to Services
We connect you to programs and services in Toronto that build healthy families and provide services that improve family finances and quality of life.
We can help you access:
- subsidies for city-run recreation programs
- financial benefits for children with special needs
- information about programs for low-income families, for example Healthy Smiles (kids’ dental care), or programs to help you manage your electricity costs
- programs available through Public Health, Public Libraries, Toronto Community Housing, and more
We are always looking for available family services so that we can pass this information on to you.
Our staff can meet with you individually to talk about your family’s needs. They also host information events about supports and services available to families where you can network with other parents in your community, and hear from guest speakers like legal experts or health professionals.
Pursuing Support - General Information
As of February 2017, child support is not deducted from social assistance payments, although spousal support still is.
Pursuing support can be complicated, but we can make it easier. A family support worker can help you to explore the options that best suit your needs and work with you on a personal plan to arrange support, link you to help to enforce a support order, or refer you to Legal Aid assistance if required.
While on Ontario Works, do I have to pursue child support?
Pursuing child support is no longer mandatory, but is highly recommended, as both parents have a legal obligation to support their child(ren), and child support is no longer deducted from Ontario Works. When you receive child support payments, you increase your family income.
While on Ontario Works, do I have to pursue spousal support?
Pursuing spousal support is still mandatory while you receive Ontario Works, and any spousal support received while on assistance is deducted from your Ontario Works payments, yes.
A little more information about support agreements
There are a number of types of written support agreements. Some do not require you to go to court. These agreements are called private agreements and may be referred to as separation or paternity agreements. A court order is a support agreement that is set up through the court.
The Ontario Child Support Guidelines determine the amount of support to be paid.
The benefits of having a written support agreement are:
- Your court order or private agreement provides an ongoing source of income
- Support income is not taxable income, and child support is not deducted from Ontario Works Assistance (although spousal support is deducted)
- The support payor must disclose his/her income on a yearly basis. This means you may get future increases in your support payments.
- You will be able to register your written agreement with the Family Responsibility Office which will enforce your support payments if necessary.
As of February 2017, child support is not deducted from social assistance payments.
Child support provides an ongoing income source that improves your family’s financial security and includes both parents in the financial support of their children. Support agreements and orders can remain in effect until your child is 18 or has completed school, even post-secondary school. A Family Support Worker can help you pursue child support and set up support arrangements for your child.
The government of Ontario has also set up a website where you can set up a child support agreement online.
Spousal support, which is money for the parent rather than for the child, is a financial resource that the Ontario Works Act says must be pursued wherever possible. We will help with this process, and will review this requirement with you.
Spousal support, unlike child support, is an income which is deducted from Ontario Works assistance payments.
Private agreements include paternity agreements and separation agreements. They are voluntary written contracts between two people who are willing to work out a support agreement.
If you wish, a Family Support Worker will arrange to meet with both parents to reach an acceptable support agreement. The person who is to pay support is required to provide pay stubs, income tax returns and other information to confirm his/her income.
The Court Process
If you wish to pursue support but cannot reach a private agreement or believe court is a better route for you, other options are available. The Employment and Social Services Family Support Worker can help you fill out application forms to start court action. After completing and signing your court application, you will receive your court hearing date.
The other person, referred to as respondent or payor will receive a copy of your application form as well as other court forms to complete before the court date. The Family Support Worker will explain what needs to be done and how it will happen.
At the court hearing, if you do not have a lawyer, a Family Support Worker will be present at court to help you and speak on your behalf. You will also be able to talk to a Duty Counsel, who is a lawyer available on your day in court for legal advice.
The court process will be faster if you and the other person:
- attend all scheduled hearings
- provide all required financial information
- both agree on paternity, and
- are able to negotiate an agreement.
Family Support Workers can also help you defend arrears and changes to your court order.
A paternity test is a saliva test that determines whether someone is the biological father of a child. If paternity is in question, you can speak to your Family Support Worker to arrange for paternity testing. The paternity testing for you and your child is free.
For more information about child and spousal support contact:
- Family Support Program Unit, Toronto Employment & Social Services
- 20 Lesmill Road, Toronto
- 20 Lesmill Road, Toronto
- Family Responsibility Office
- Customer Service Unit 416-243-1909 or (toll free) 1-888-815-2757
- Family Law Information Centres (FLIC)
- 311 Jarvis St. 416-327-6868
- 47 Sheppard Ave E. 416-326-3592
- Legal Aid Ontario
- 1-800-668-8258 or in Toronto 416-979-1446
- Ministry of the Attorney General
- 416-326-2220 or (toll free) 1-800-518-7901
- Ontario Court of Justice
- Jarvis Court: 311 Jarvis St., Toronto
- North York Court: 47 Sheppard Ave E., Toronto
- Jarvis Court: 311 Jarvis St., Toronto
Read more about Ontario Works.