Legislation

This section is an excerpt from the Ontario Works Act, 1997 prescribed by the Province of Ontario.

Ontario Works Act

7. (3) No person is eligible for income assistance unless,

(a) the person is resident in Ontario.

Ontario Works Regulations

Status in the Country

6. (1) The following persons are not eligible for assistance:

1. Subject to subsection (2), a person,

i. against whom a deportation order has been made under the Immigration Act (Canada), or with respect to whom a departure order or an exclusion order under that Act has become effective, or

ii. with respect to whom a removal order has become enforceable under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada).

2. A person who is a visitor, unless the person,

i. has made a claim for refugee status under the Immigration Act (Canada),

ii. has made a claim for refugee protection under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada), or

iii. has made an application for status as a permanent resident under the Immigration Act (Canada) or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada).

3. A person who is a tourist.

(2) Paragraph 1 of subsection (1) does not apply with respect to a person if the administrator is satisfied that,

a. for reasons wholly beyond the control of the person, the person is unable to leave the country; or

b. the person has made an application for status as a permanent resident under subsection 114(2) of the Immigration Act (Canada) or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada).

Highlights

Persons who are verified as landed immigrants, refugee claimants, Convention refugees, or applicants for permanent residence in Canada may be eligible for assistance provided all other eligibility criteria are met.

Sponsorship Breakdown

Legislation

This section is an excerpt from the Ontario Works Act, 1997 prescribed by the Province of Ontario.

Ontario Works Act Regulations

13. (1) If the administrator is not satisfied that a member of a benefit unit is making reasonable efforts to obtain compensation or realize a financial resource or income that the person may be entitled to or eligible for, the administrator may determine that the person is not eligible for basic financial assistance or reduce the amount of basic financial assistance granted by the amount of the compensation, financial resource or income that in his or her opinion is available or would have been available had reasonable efforts been made to obtain or realize it.

(2) For the purpose of subsection (1),

a. any compensation or contribution to the support or maintenance of a member of the benefit unit that may result from an undertaking given with respect to that member under the Immigration Act (Canada) or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) is compensation or a financial resource to which the person is entitled.

51. The following rules apply with respect to undertakings given under the Immigration Act (Canada):

1. If a member of the benefit unit is a person with respect to whom an undertaking has been given under the Immigration Act (Canada) or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) and he or she resides in the dwelling place of the person giving the undertaking or in accommodation owned or controlled in whole or in part by that person, income shall include an amount equal to the greater of,

i. the amount of all payments available to the member of the benefit unit as determined by the administrator under the undertaking given with respect to him or her, and

ii. the amount of the budgetary requirements calculated in accordance with section 41 less the applicable amount determined in accordance with the following Table: (O. Reg. 227/98, s.26(1))

 

Basic Needs Rate Table
No. of dependants other than a spouse Dependants
18 years or older
Dependants
0 – 17 years
Recipient Recipient and spouse
0 0 0 $343 $494
1

0

1

1

0

$360

$623

$494

$652

2

0

1

2

2

1

0

$360

$623

$781

$494

$652

$826

For each additional dependant:
add $175 if the dependant is 18 years of age or older,
or $0 if the dependant is 0-17 years of age.
The amount attributable to a dependent child shall be reduced by 50 per cent where budgetary requirements for the child were reduced under section 44.2.

2. Revoked

3. The amount calculated under paragraph 1 shall be deemed to be zero if,

i. the person given the undertaking under the Immigration Act (Canada) or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) is himself or herself in receipt of or eligible for social assistance.

ii. the person giving the undertaking under the Immigration Act (Canada) or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) is himself or herself in receipt of a payment under Part II of the Old Age Security Act (Canada) or a payment under the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income Act,

iii. the member of the benefit unit establishes to the satisfaction of the administrator that there has been a breakdown in the undertaking by reason of domestic violence.

iv. the member of the benefit unit establishes to the satisfaction of the administrator that he or she has a legal obligation to contribute to one or more of the elements of shelter cost set out in paragraphs 1 to 10 of subsection 42 (1) for the dwelling place where the person giving the undertaking under the Immigration Act (Canada) or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) and the member of the benefit unit reside or for the accommodation owned or controlled in whole or in part by the person giving the undertaking where the member of the benefit unit resides, or

v. the member of the benefit unit establishes to the satisfaction of the administrator that he or she is required by the person giving the undertaking under the Immigration Act (Canada) or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) to pay for shelter in order to continue to reside in the dwelling place of that person or in accommodation owned or controlled in whole or in part by that person.

Sponsorship Default

Sponsorship Undertakings are made with the Federal Government by relatives who guarantee that their sponsored family member will not become dependant upon social assistance programs in Canada, and that their needs will be met by the sponsor.

All applicants, participants and recipients of social assistance are required to make reasonable efforts to obtain all financial resources that they may be entitled to. The sponsored immigrant must make reasonable efforts to obtain any financial support from the sponsor due to an undertaking made on his or her behalf under the Immigration Act (Canada) or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) between a sponsor and the Government of Canada.

A sponsored immigrant is expected to have his or her needs met by the sponsor. However, when the sponsorship agreement has broken down because the sponsor is in default and the sponsored immigrant agrees to pursue support from the sponsor, the immigrant may be eligible for financial assistance.

The caseworker will verify the status in Canada of all applicants, participants and recipients of social assistance who are not Canadian-born citizens.

In cases of sponsorship, the length of a sponsorship agreement must be verified.

The caseworker must advise Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) of all potential sponsorship default cases. In cases where the sponsor does not resume full support obligations, the case is referred to the provincial Overpayment Recovery Unit (ORU).

In all sponsorship default cases, the caseworker must review at each update the details of the sponsorship breakdown. The caseworker will review to determine if the situation has changed.

Convention Refugee

Individuals determined to be Convention refugees from within Canada are allowed to remain indefinitely in Canada. They are also given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence in Canada, however, an inability to pay cost recovery fees to Immigration, and a lack of appropriate identification may significantly delay their ability to apply.

Convention Refugees, by the Federal Government from abroad, may be eligible during their first year of residence in Canada, for the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP), formerly known as the Federal Adjustment Assistance Program. This program, administered through Immigrant Settlement Services with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, provides assistance similar to Ontario Works assistance. Individuals who do not qualify for RAP may be eligible for Ontario Works assistance if other eligibility criteria are met.

Refugee Claimants

Inland Refugee Claimants

“Inland Refugee Claims” are made by in status and out-of-status visitors and other temporary entrants to Canada, after they have entered the country, as opposed to making their intent to claim known at a port-of-entry.

In addition to meeting all other eligibility requirements inland refugee applicants need acceptable immigration documentation in order to be eligible for Ontario Works Assistance. Acceptable immigration documentation will serve as identification and proof of residency.

Inland refugee claimants awaiting an appointment to determine eligibility to make a refugee claim do not have acceptable immigration documentation. However, if they provide an Immigration issued ‘Notice to Return for Interview’ appointment form, they may be assessed for Emergency Assistance pending the appointment.

Inland refugee claimants issued the “Acknowledgement of Intent to Claim Refugee Status” document by Immigration after initially filing an inland refugee claim have acceptable documentation to apply for OW assistance. Once these clients are deemed eligible to make a refugee claim, Immigration will issue a “Determination of Eligibility Document” to replace the “Acknowledgement of Intent to Claim Refugee Status” document which is necessary to remain eligible for assistance.

Along with the “Determination of Eligibility Document” document, the client will receive a “Notice to Appear for Hearing” at the Immigration Refugee Board (IRB). Within a 2-3 month period the client will have a date for their refugee hearing. They, or their counsel, will be asked to complete a “Personal Information Form” (PIF). This form must be received by the IRB within 35 days in order for the client to continue to be eligible to make a refugee claim.

Clients who are making out-of-status inland refugee claims will also be given a conditional departure order (a removal order). This departure order will only become effective if the client is unsuccessful in their application for determination of their refugee claim.

Clients who are determined to be ineligible to make a refugee claim, or who have been deemed by the Immigration Refugee Board to have abandoned or withdrawn their refugee claim, are not eligible for Ontario Works Assistance (OWA Regulation (1)2.)

Port of Entry Claimants

Port of Entry refugee claimants are persons who have indicated their intention to make a refugee claim to an Immigration Examining Officer at a Port of Entry such as, Niagara Falls or L.B. Pearson Airport.

To be eligible for Ontario Works Assistance these persons require a “Determination of Eligibility” or “Acknowledgement of Refugee Claim” document (as previously mentioned). This document replaces the Section 20 report previously in use. Usually this document will be issued the same day the client enters Canada and is only valid for a period of 30 days. However, should the client’s examination by Immigration be postponed, thereby postponing the issuance of the document, the client will be ineligible for assistance.

The document should include a photograph of the client with an Immigration stamp partially covering the photograph.

As a result of time restrictions or language barriers, Immigration officials are increasingly less likely to complete a full interview of the refugee claimant at the time of their entry. The claimant’s application for refugee status becomes included in a process known as “the Pearson Project”. Under this streamlined process the claimant’s examination by Immigration will be deferred. The potential claimant is released by Immigration and given an application kit to complete and return to Immigration, usually by mail. If the client fails to return this kit in a timely manner, they will not receive an extension to their initial 30-day document.

Clients who fail to pursue their refugee claim, or to secure an extension of their Immigration documentation may be ineligible for further assistance.

Once the kit is returned to Immigration, the applicant will be sent a “Determination of Eligibility” document. This process can take as little time as two weeks, provided the applicant does not delay in completing the kit and returning it to Immigration.

Once eligible to make a refugee claim these persons will, as with Inland cases, be given a “Notice to Appear for Hearing” at the Immigration Refugee Board (IRB) to submit their refugee claim on a scheduled date within a 2-3 month period. The client, or their counsel, must submit a “Personal Information Form” (PIF) to the Immigration Refugee Board within 35 days to continue to be eligible to submit a refugee claim.

The client will also be given a conditional departure order in most cases. This removal order will only become effective if the client is unsuccessful in their application for determination of their refugee claim.

As with inland cases, if the client is ineligible to submit a refugee claim, or been deemed by the Immigration Refugee Board to have abandoned or withdrawn their refugee claim, they are also not eligible for Ontario Works assistance (OWA Regulation 6(1)2).

Determination of Refugee Status

Both Inland and Port-of-Entry cases will, at this point, follow the same process toward refugee determination. The following is a brief description of the possible outcomes of this process and their impact on the client’s eligibility for assistance.

If the Person is Determined to be a Refugee:

If the client is successful in their refugee claim they will continue to be eligible to apply for and obtain an employment authorization ( see Part 4 ). They may also be eligible to submit an application for permanent residence in Canada. During this time they will continue to be eligible for assistance if they continue to meet all other OWA criteria.

If the Person is Determined Not to be a Refugee:

At this point the individual’s removal order becomes effective and as a result, the client may be ineligible for assistance as indicated in Section 6 of the Ontario Works Act Regulations.

However, if for reasons wholly beyond the control of the person, the person is unable to leave the country,” as indicated in Ontario Works Regulation 6(2)(a), the client will continue to be eligible for assistance if they continue to meet all other eligibility requirements.

The existence of a warrant for removal from Canada is sufficient evidence of a client’s non-compliance with Immigration, and is satisfactory evidence that it is within the client’s control to leave Canada. As a result, clients found to be the subject of an Immigration warrant for removal, are ineligible for Ontario Works Assistance.

The client may also submit an application for permanent residence under Section 114(2) of the Immigration Act (Canada) or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. In order for this application to be considered the client must pay a cost recovery fee to Immigration. The fee payment is an integral part of the application. If all other Ontario Works eligibility criteria are met, the client would be eligible for assistance in accordance with OWA Regulation 6(2)(b).

In most cases, unsuccessful refugee claimants will continue to be eligible for Ontario Works assistance until and unless they are removed from Canada or otherwise become the subject of a warrant for removal because of their non-compliance with Immigration’s efforts at removal.

Information concerning the existence of a warrant for removal, or a confirmed departure from Canada, can be obtained by faxing a “Client Information Form” to Immigration at 954-7040. This information is also gathered at a central position from within the Division, and is sent to caseworkers, in applicable cases, through the Area Office Immigration Co-ordinators.

Employment Authorization

Clients should be advised that they must obtain employment authorizations wherever practicable as a condition of continued eligibility for general welfare assistance.

The following is provided to educate caseworkers on the steps necessary, by the client, in obtaining legal authorization to work in Canada:

It is important to note that an employment authorization is the first step in ensuring independency and settlement in Canada for refugee claimants, convention refugees, and others without permanent residency in Canada.

Pursuit of an employment authorization is an eligibility requirement under the Ontario Works Act Regulations, Section 28.

Refugee Claimants

Refugee claimants, whether the claim was initiated at a port of entry or inland, are eligible to apply for, and obtain, employment authorizations after meeting the following conditions with Immigration.

The refugee claimant’s case must have been referred to the Immigration Refugee Board for processing. In these cases the individual will have been given a “Determination of Eligibility” document by Immigration or a “Notice to Appear” from the Immigration Refugee Board.

The claimant must have been fingerprinted and photographed by Immigration or their designate. This is usually done before the “Determination of Eligibility” document is issued.

The claimant, and their dependants, must have undergone an Immigration medical examination, and the results must be known to Immigration. The Division will not incur any costs related to the Immigration medical examination.

The claimant cannot otherwise subsist without public assistance. This is usually a forgone conclusion. However, the onus is on the client to satisfy Immigration of this condition, and acceptance is dependent on the Immigration Officer’s discretion.

Employment authorizations are obtained from immigration by mailing an application to Canada Immigration. The following steps are required to obtain an application and apply for an employment authorization.

A “Visitor Kit” must first be obtained from Canada Immigration. Clients can obtain these kits by telephoning 416-973-4444. When phoning in for the kit, the client will be required to provide a current address. The kit will be mailed to the address given within two weeks.

The kit is completed by the client specifically requesting an employment authorization. To avoid unnecessary delays, the kit must be carefully completed. Otherwise, it will be returned to the client for further information.

The cost recovery fee (usually $150) is waived for persons who are making refugee claims which have not been decided by the Immigration Refugee Board.

Provided the individual meets the above-mentioned conditions, a properly completed application kit should result in an employment authorization being mailed to the client within a 4-week time frame.

The client will be issued an open employment authorization which will be valid for a period of nine months from the date of determination of eligibility to make a refugee claim. The authorization ceases to be valid at the end of the nine-month period, or following a negative decision on the refugee claim whichever comes first.

Convention Refugees (successfully determined from within Canada)

Refugee claimants who are successfully determined to be Convention Refugees, are eligible to apply for and obtain, employment authorizations after meeting the following conditions;

The refugee claimant must be successfully determined to be a Convention Refugee by the Immigration Refugee Board. Documentation to verify this must be available for verification from the client, or to Immigration through the FOSS computer system.

The refugee, and their dependants in Canada, must have undergone an Immigration medical examination, if not previously done. The results must be known to Immigration. The Division will not incur any costs related to the Immigration medical examination.

The refugee cannot otherwise subsist without public assistance. Again, this is usually a forgone conclusion, but is subject to the discretion of an Immigration Officer.

Employment authorizations for convention refugees are obtained by mailing an application to Canada Immigration. The following steps are required by convention refugees to obtain an application and apply for an employment authorization.

A “Visitor Kit” must be obtained from Canada Immigration. Clients can obtain these kits by telephoning 973-4444. When phoning in for the kit, the client will be required to provide a current address. The kit will be mailed to the address given within two weeks.

The kit is completed by the client, specifically requesting an employment authorization. To avoid unnecessary delays, the kit must be carefully completed. Otherwise, it will be returned to the client for further information.

The cost recovery fee (usually $150) is waived for persons successfully determined to be Convention Refugees by the Immigration Refugee Board.

Provided the individual meets the above-mentioned conditions, a properly completed application should result in an employment authorization being mailed to the client within a 4-week time frame.

The client will be issued an open employment authorization which will be valid for a period of twelve months from the date of successful determination of the refugee claim.

Unsuccessful Refugee Claimants

Refugee claimants who have been found not to be Convention Refugees by the Immigration Refugee Board, and have applied for Judicial review at the Federal Court of Canada, may apply for and obtain an employment authorization, provided they meet the following conditions;

There must be some documentary evidence that the client has submitted an initial refugee claim to the Immigration Refugee Board. A “Notice to Appear,” or a “Notice to Appear for Hearing or Preliminary Conference,” issued by the Immigration Refugee Board will usually suffice in these cases.

The claimant must have been initially fingerprinted and photographed.

The claimant, and their dependants in Canada, must have undergone an Immigration medical examination, and the results must be known to Immigration. The Division will not incur any costs related to the Immigration medical examination.

The claimant cannot otherwise subsist without public assistance. This is usually a foregone conclusion. However, the onus is on the client to satisfy Immigration of this condition, and acceptance is dependent on the Immigration Officer’s discretion.

Employment authorizations are obtained from immigration by mailing an application to Canada Immigration. The following steps are required to obtain an application and apply for an employment authorization.

A “Visitor Kit” must first be obtained from Canada Immigration. Clients can obtain these kits by telephoning 416-973-4444. When phoning in for the kit, the client will be required to provide a current address. The kit will be mailed to the address given within two weeks.

The kit is completed by the client, specifically requesting an employment authorization. To avoid needless delays, the kit must be carefully completed. Otherwise, it will be returned to the client for further information.

The client will require a letter from their potential employer offering the client a job. The letter must outline the job title, the wages, and the period of time for which the job is being offered. Unsuccessful refugee claimants are not entitled to obtain open employment authorizations. The employment authorization issued will be valid only for employment with the employer making the job offer.

The cost recovery fee of $150 (effective January 1997) must be returned with the application kit. The cost recovery fee may be paid on behalf on the client using “Employment Related Expense” funds through Ontario Works. Caseworkers should ensure that the client is eligible for an employment authorization, and not facing impending removal, by faxing a Client Information Form to Immigration at 954-7040.

Provided the individual meets the above-mentioned conditions, a properly completed application kit should result in the employment authorization being mailed to the client within a 4-week time frame.

The client will be issued an employment authorization valid only for employment with the specific employer named in the job offer provided to immigration. The authorization will be valid for the duration of the offer of employment, but should not exceed one year.

The employment authorization ceases to be valid on the date indicated on the document or when the individual is denied leave to appeal to the Federal Court, or when the Federal Court determines that the person is not a Convention Refugee, and Immigration determines that the person is not a member of the post- determination refugee claimants in Canada (PDRCC) class, whichever comes first.

Extensions of Employment Authorizations:

Extensions of these employment authorizations may be granted if there has been a significant delay in the hearing or determination of the refugee claim caused by Immigration or the Immigration Refugee Board. In other words, failure by the claimant to pursue their case expeditiously, may result in a refusal of any request for extension.

Medical Examinations & Cost Recovery Fees:

The Division will not incur any costs related to the Immigration medical examination. Cost recovery fees will only be paid for employment authorizations where the client cannot be removed from Canada.

The medical examination form and instructions to the client are issued by Immigration when the refugee claim is initiated. The cost of the examination, and any other emergency medical costs for refugee claimants, refused claimants awaiting appeal or removal, or persons deemed to be Convention Refugees who have not received permanent residence, is covered by the “Interim Federal Health Program.”

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