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.

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.

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

Internal Review Process

You can request an internal review for decisions about your Ontario Works and Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) 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), Member ID number, and signature.

Your request can be in a letter or you can complete a Request for Internal Review Form and submit to the local office.

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 outcome of the internal review. If you sill disagree, you can make an appeal.

Appealing a Decision

If you disagree with the results of the Internal Review, you can still make an appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal or the Decision Review Committee. Not all decisions, however can be appealed.

Your Internal Review Decision letter will tell you whether you can appeal the decision to:

  • the Social Benefits Tribunal; or
  • the Decision Review Committee


Please note
: If you do not receive an outcome of the internal review within 30 days, you may appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal directly as indicated on the Notice of Decision letter. For Decision Review Committee related decisions, please contact your local office to follow up on your appeal.

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.

The Social Benefits Tribunal hears appeals from people who have either been refused social assistance or who receive social assistance but disagree with a decision that affects:

  • their eligibility for assistance
  • the amount of assistance they receive
  • the benefits they receive

If you disagree with the outcome of the internal review, you can make an appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal, as indicated on your internal review outcome letter.

After receiving your Internal Review Decision letter, complete the Appeal Form and send it to the Social Benefits Tribunal by mail or fax. You must send in this form to the Social Benefits Tribunal 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:

By Mail:
The Social Benefits Tribunal
15 Grosvenor Street, Ground Floor
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2G6

By Fax: 416-326-5135

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 website.

Interim Assistance

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.

Contacting the Social Benefits Tribunal

If you have any questions about the appeal process or your appeal with the Social Benefits Tribunal, you can contact them Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. by:

By Telephone:
416-326-0978
Toll-free: 1-800-753-3895
TTY: Call the Bell Relay Service at 1-800-855-0511

By Fax:
416-326-5135
By Email:SBT.Registrar@ontario.ca

Decision Review Committee

Toronto Employment & Social Services (TESS) has an internal appeal process to hear appeals on discretionary benefits, as well as the Housing Stabilization Fund, as these types of benefits cannot be appealed to the Social Benefits Tribunal.

As noted above, 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 still disagree with the ARU decision you may request a review of the decision by the Decision Review Committee (DRC) as indicated on the Outcome of Internal Review letter .

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.

Some of the discretionary benefits that may be appealed to the DRC include, but are not limited to:

Your request for a DRC review should be written within 30 days of receiving the Outcome of Internal Review letter. Please include your name, Member ID, and signature then submit your request for an Internal Review to your local office or mail to:

Attention: Decision Review Committee
Toronto Employment & Social Services
PO Box 3888 Stn Industrial
Markham, Ontario L3R 5T2

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 review the appeal as well as applicable legislation, policies, and other relevant information before making a decision. The Decision Review Committee meets monthly.
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:

  • Tom Azouz, General Manager, Toronto Employment & Social Services
  • Denise Campbell, Executive Director, Social Development, Finance & Administration
  • Gordon Tanner, General Manager, Toronto Shelter and Support Services

Related Information

  • Getting Legal Advice: If you would like legal advice about the decision under appeal to Social Benefits Tribunal, you can contact Legal Aid Ontario for information about the community legal aid clinic in your area.
  • Read more about Ontario Works
  • 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.