This section is an excerpt from the Ontario Works Act, 1997 prescribed by the Province of Ontario.
Ontario Works Regulations
12 (1) The administrator may request a visit to the home of a person applying for or receiving assistance in order to verify initial or ongoing eligibility for assistance.
(2) The administrator shall determine on a random basis the persons whose homes are to be visited under this section and may request a visit with or without notice (O. Reg.227/98, s.4).
(3) A person visiting a home under this section shall not look at things that cannot be seen in plain view (O. Reg.227/98, s.4).
(4) A person is not eligible for income assistance if the administrator has requested a visit to the person’s home and the person has refused the visit and failed to satisfy the administrator that there was a valid reason for the refusal.
(5) The administrator may determine that there is not a valid reason for refusing a visit to the home if the person has previously refused visits to the home.
Under this Regulation, assistance may be denied or cancelled where an applicant or participant refuses a home visit without a valid reason.
The decision whether to require a home visit rests with the social assistance delivery agent.
This does not remove the client’s right to request a home visit in order to provide information to determine initial or ongoing eligibility.
Random home visits are a part of regular business practices for social assistance delivery staff.
Random Home Visits
Home visits to verify information to establish initial eligibility or to verify information for the purposes of ongoing eligibility may be conducted by caseworkers on a random basis.
A home visit can be used to verify eligibility criteria that are in plain view. This can include, but is not limited to verification regarding;
a.assets such as vehicles
b.residency – verify that the person actually resides there
c.accommodation arrangements such as self contained dwelling unit
Verification of accommodation arrangements, for example, can include whether the applicant or participant lives in self contained quarters or is sharing accommodation with other residents.
Caseworkers do not have the authority to look into drawers, closets or cupboards as part of the home visit. Also, home visits are to be conducted during normal business hours.
The right to protection against inappropriate search of the person extends to one’s home.
Applicants or participants can be subject to a home visit with or without notice.
It is essential that the nature of the home visits not be based on individual suspicion. A policy cannot be established that requires home visits for all applicants and participants. However, delivery agents can establish case policies for recommending home visits for prescribed groups, such as sole-support parent.
Priority verification lists are tools which may be helpful in determining where random visits will be required.
Verification list may be determined by factors such as high rental costs, return mail from declared address or multiple tenants as they will assist in identifying cases requiring in home visits.
Refusal to Allow a Home Visit
There may be a valid reason for the client’s refusal of a home visit.
- applicants or participants have the right to confidentiality. If there are visitors present, it would not be appropriate for a caseworker to disclose information by conducting an assessment of eligibility in the presence of others.
- someone residing in the home is ill
- religious observance
- time of mourning
- previously scheduled appointment