Under the Ontario Works Act and Regulations, eligibility is now based on the client’s ability to meet program requirements in accordance with the reason for assistance.


In developing the appropriate service plan, and in completing the Participation Agreement with this age group, the focus should be on jointly determining a plan which will best meet the needs and capabilities of this client group. Community Placement (CP) activities may be options most suited to this client group.

Administrative Guidelines and Procedures

At Participation Agreement Reviews (PAR) caseworkers are to assess each case on an individual basis. The individual’s circumstances will assist in the determination of their participation in the various Ontario Works components. In the development of a mutually agreed-upon service plan, caseworkers are to be flexible, supportive and understanding of each client’s different needs. Factors to consider in the development of the service plan may be the client’s:

  • age
  • physical limitations
  • emotional problems
  • language
  • education
  • technology:
    • comfort level and familiarity
    • access
    • knowledge of various applications
  • job search strategies

The focus of the PAR should be on the individual’s needs and capabilities.

Given the special nature and circumstances of this client group, any issues of possible non-compliance are to be discussed with a Supervisor, Direct Program (SDP) in order to identify any alternate service options which may be available. Some examples of alternate service options could be self-initiated volunteer placements or deferrals/restrictions when the client is unable to participate fully in the required number of hours (140).

Participants who have applied for ODSP prior to April 1, 2001 may have an automatic exemption from participation requirements (once in a lifetime).

Effective April 1, 2001, applicants and participants who also apply to the ODSP on or after April 1, 2001 will no longer receive an automatic exemption from participation requirements.  Where participation is impractical or restricted because of an injury, illness or disability, OW rules allow for a temporary deferral of participation requirements based on medical documentation.

Reminder: A client aged 65 and over, who is ineligible for Old Age Security (OAS) benefits is a member of a “prescribed class” and do not require a disability adjudication. This age group should be referred automatically to ODSP.

Clients who require special items to participate in the OW program, may be eligible for money available through Employment Related Expenses, specifically the Disability Access Fund.

NOTE: Caseworkers should review with the participant six months prior to his or her 65th birthday, the appropriateness of an OAS application.