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Ontario Works (OW) is a province-wide assistance program that offers financial relief in the form of monthly payments to Ontarians facing severe financial hardships.
Founded in 1997, this program has helped residents find temporary financial solace with paying for basic living expenses until they find a job and become self-sufficient.
What makes this assistance program unique is that it encourages recipients to find a suitable job by creating an Action Plan that recognizes and addresses their unique barriers to employment.
In this article, we will explore everything about the Ontario Works program — how it works, its benefits, application process, and more.
|Benefit Month (2022)||Payment Date|
|January||December 31, 2021|
|February||January 31, 2022|
|March||February 28, 2022|
|April||March 31, 2022|
|May||April 29, 2022|
|June||May 31, 2022|
|July||June 30, 2022|
|August||July 29, 2022|
|September||August 31, 2022|
|October||September 29, 2022|
|November||October 31, 2022|
|December||November 30, 2022|
Ontario Works provides financial assistance to those in need while fostering self-reliance by giving them powerful resources to flourish in their journey towards employment.
All OW recipients must sign a Participation Agreement that mandates them to participate in several job-related activities.
When enrolled in the Ontario Works program, the monthly payment covers your and your family members’ basic expenses, such as food, shelter, childcare and medication cost, so that you can focus on recovery and career development.
How much payment you receive will depend on your family size, income, expenses, and a few other variables.
The eligibility criteria for Ontario Works payments are pretty straightforward. To receive OW, you must:
Note that there are some conditions that may bar you from obtaining Ontario Works benefits. These include:
When vetting your eligibility, the two most essential elements that dictate whether you’re approved are your current financial situation and your willingness to secure a job.
The OW staff will evaluate your family size, income, assets, and housing expenses to determine your financial eligibility.
Then, they will cultivate a plan for you to find work or improve your current skills. Your responsibilities will be clearly defined in your Participation Agreement, which you must sign.
Before you start the Ontario Works application process, make sure you have the following information about your family members available:
You have two ways to apply:
Once you apply, the local Ontario Works office will contact you within four working days to schedule an in-person verification appointment with a caseworker.
At your scheduled meeting at the local Ontario Works office, the caseworker may ask you for more information and verify the documents submitted with your application.
They may also ask you for oral or written consent to allow Ontario Works to access your information from third-party programs and organizations such as:
Also, to finalize the application process, you, your spouse and, if necessary, any dependent adults, sign the application and all the related forms.
Once the caseworker obtains all the required documents to verify your information and determine your financial eligibility to receive benefits, they will notify you within four business days whether your application is approved, as well as when and how much benefit amount you will receive.
If your application is denied, you can seek an internal review within 30 days of receiving the decision. If the application fails at this stage, you can appeal the internal review decision to the Social Benefits Tribunal.
Once you’re approved, you will have to attend another appointment with your caseworker, where he or she will create a plan for you to find a job or participate in training and other programs to improve your skills. This is mandatory unless you have an illness or caregiving responsibilities that will make it challenging to pursue employment.
Ontario Works offers its recipients three types of benefits — financial assistance, health benefits, and employment assistance.
We will explore the details of each benefit below.
Several variables influence your monthly Ontario Works payment. These include family size, assets, income, and housing expenses.
Here’s an overview of how much you can expect to receive for basic needs, shelter, and board and lodging.
This refers to food, clothing, and other personal expenses. The amount you receive depends on your family size, and you will get the payment to cover basic needs even if you do not have an address.
|Number of children or dependent adults||Basic needs payment|
|single person||No child||$343|
|1 child 17 years or under||$360|
|1 dependent adult 18 years or older||$623|
|2 children 17 years or under||$360|
|1 child 17 years or under, and 1 dependent adult 18 years or older||$623|
|2 dependent adults 18 years or older||$781|
|1 child 17 years or under||$494|
|1 dependent adult 18 years or older||$652|
|2 children 17 years or under||$494|
|1 child 17 years or under, and I dependent adult 18 years or older||$652|
|2 dependent adults 18 years or older||$826|
For every additional child or dependent adult, you will receive $175 per month to cover their basic needs.
Payment for shelter covers expenses such as a mortgage, rent, utilities, gas, and more. How much you receive depends on your family size, with the total amount capped by the maximum shelter allowance mentioned below.
|Family size||Monthly maximum shelter allowance|
|6 or more members||$844|
This means, if you’re a family of two and your apartment rent is $650, you will receive $642 in shelter allowance.
This is applicable in situations where the rent payment includes meals, e.g. assisted living facilities. The amount you will receive will depend on your board and lodging cost, up to a maximum amount shown in the table below.
In addition to the amount mentioned in the table, you will also receive a $71 special allowance.
|Number of children or dependent adults||Maximum amount for single person||Maximum amount for couple|
|1 child 17 years or under||$664||$752|
|1 dependent adult 18 years or older||$752||$790|
|2 children 17 years or under||$737||$813|
|1 child 17 years or under, and 1 dependent adult 18 years or older||$825||$851|
|2 dependent adults 18 years or older||$873||$887|
|3 children 17 years or under||$806||$874|
|2 children 17 years or under, and 1 dependent adult 18 years or older||$894||$912|
|2 dependent adults 18 years or older, and 1 child 17 years or under||$942||$948|
|3 dependent adults 18 and over||$980||$984|
For every additional child or dependent adult of a sole parent:
For every additional child, or dependent adult of a couple:
Ontario Works provides you with a pool of valuable resources you can use to prepare for and find a job. OW staff will help identify gaps in your current skill sets and collaborate with you to determine what you can do to improve your likelihood of scoring a job.
The OW staff will then develop a plan taking into account your skills, experience, and any circumstances you may be facing in life.
Depending on your situation, OW will give you access to a range of resources that you can use in your employment search. These include:
Participating in employment-related activities is crucial to qualifying for Ontario Works. The caseworker will update your Participation Agreement contract to reflect your progress as you finish the different activities.
As an Ontario Works recipient, you and your family are eligible for certain health-related assistance as well.
If you’re currently living in an unsafe and violent environment, OW can help you receive financial assistance to get you somewhere safe while also providing resources to find a job.
If you’re a victim of abuse that needs financial aid, contact your local Ontario Works office. Let the staff know about your abusive situation. They will schedule an appointment with you within 24 hours at a premise where you feel safe.