Internal Reviews and Appeals – Ontario Works Assistance
If you disagree with a decision while applying for or receiving Ontario Works, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. The formal review process involves:
- an Internal Review and, if necessary,
- an Appeal.
When a decision is made about your eligibility for Ontario Works Assistance, you will be sent a Notice of Decision letter that will:
- advise of a decision about your case and outline the reason(s) the decision was made
- tell you what steps you can take to address the matter
- let you know how to request an Internal Review if you do not agree with the decision and would like to appeal
Before asking for an Internal Review, you may be able to resolve the issue by speaking with your caseworker. If you cannot resolve the issue with your caseworker, you may speak to a supervisor.
Internal Review Process
You can request an internal review for decisions about your Ontario Works benefits. You have 30 days from the day you receive the Notice of Decision letter to submit a written request to your caseworker to have your case reviewed.
Your request should include:
- a statement that you wish to have the decision reviewed
- the reason you disagree with the decision, and
- your first and last name (printed), date of birth and signature.
Your request can be in a letter or you can complete a Request for Internal Review Form.
Your file will be reviewed within 30 days of receiving your written request. In urgent situations, reviews will be completed more quickly.
You will be informed in writing of the results and what you should do, if you continue to disagree.
Appealing a Decision
If you disagree with the results of the Internal Review or the office has not completed the Internal Review within 30 days of your request, you can then appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal directly. Your Internal Review Decision letter will tell you whether you can appeal the decision to:
- the Social Benefits Tribunal (as not all decisions can be appealed)
- the Decision Review Committee
Social Benefits Tribunal
The Social Benefits Tribunal is an independent group that is separate from Employment & Social Services and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The Tribunal holds hearings which are similar to court, but less formal.
If your Internal Review Decision letter states that you can appeal, then you can fill out and send an Appeal Form to the Social Benefits Tribunal. You must send in this form within 30 days of receiving your Internal Review Decision letter.
Appeal forms are available at your local Employment & Social Services office or from the Social Benefits Tribunal website. Send your completed Appeal form to:
The Social Benefits Tribunal
655 Bay Street, 14th Floor
Toll-free number: 1-800-753-3895
After you send in your Appeal form, you will receive a letter from the Social Benefits Tribunal stating the date, time and location of your appeal hearing. For more information read the Social Benefits Tribunal brochure.
Interim assistance is financial aid you may be eligible to receive while waiting for your hearing with the Social Benefits Tribunal. Contact the Social Benefits Tribunal to apply for interim assistance.
Decision Review Committee
Toronto Employment & Social Services (TESS) has an internal appeal process for discretionary benefits as these types of benefits cannot be formally appealed to the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT).
If you disagree with the local office decision regarding a discretionary benefit you may request an Internal Review.
Once you submit your request for an Internal Review, the Appeals Review Unit (ARU) will complete a thorough review of the issue and render a decision. The ARU will send you an Outcome of Internal Review letter to advise you of the result of their review.
If you continue to disagree with the ARU decision you may request a review of the decision by the Decision Review Committee (DRC)
Some of the discretionary benefits that may be appealed to the DRC include, but are not limited to:
- Dental benefits
- Employment Related Benefits
- Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF)
- Individual Services and Supports
- Medical items
Your request for a DRC review should be written within 30 days of receiving the Outcome of Internal Review letter and mailed to:
Decision Review Committee
c/o Appeals Review Unit
111 Wellesley Street East, 4th Floor
Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 3A7
You will receive a letter acknowledging receipt of your request for a DRC review.
The DRC will provide an independent and impartial review of decisions made by TESS. The DRC will examine the issue under appeal as well as applicable Ontario Works Legislation, TESS policy, and other relevant information before making a decision. You will be notified of their decision in writing within 4 business days. The decisions of the DRC are final.
Decision Review Committee Composition and Meetings
The DRC meets monthly and consists of three senior management staff from the City of Toronto. The General Manager of TESS is the only permanent member of the committee.
The current Decision Review Committee members are:
- Patricia Walcott, General Manager, Toronto Employment & Social Services
- Denise Campbell, Executive Director, Social Development, Finance & Administration
- Mary-Anne Bedard, Interim General Manager, Shelter, Support & Housing Administration
- Ontario Works Act and Regulations – provincial legislation that governs Ontario Works
- Social Benefits Tribunal – reviews social assistance decisions that can be appealed under the Ontario Works Act.
- Social Benefits Tribunal brochure How to appeal your decision to the Social Benefits Tribunal
- Legal Services can help you appeal a decision.
Read more about Ontario Works.