Ontario Works FAQ's

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Select one of the headings below to get answers to 15 frequently asked questions about Ontario Works.

What is Ontario Works (OW)?

Ontario Works provides temporary financial assistance to those most in financial need while they meet obligations to become and stay employed. Recipients must take part in employment-related activities if medically able.

What is a Participation Agreement?

The Participation Agreement is part of the application for financial assistance. It is a step-by-step plan to help you reach your outlined employment goals – along with the list of employment-related activities you agree upon with your Case Manager.

As there are some exceptions each person must communicate to their Case Manager if they feel they cannot participate in activities.

What information will I have to give when I apply for assistance?

You will have to provide information about:

  • family size and ages of family members,
  • income - including pensions and allowances,
  • assets - including money in bank accounts, registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs),  registered education savings plans (RESPs), life insurance cash values and vehicles,
  • debts - including money you owe on credit cards, to the bank, and to other people,
  • housing arrangements,
  • expenses for basic needs, and
  • education, employment status, and
  • employment history

What are the assets limits?

Assets  include money in bank accounts, registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs),  registered education savings plans (RESPs), life insurance cash values and vehicles,  Assets  limits are $10,000 for singles and $15,000 per couple with an extra $500 per dependent (other than spouse).  Primary vehicles are fully exempt.  For full details contact your case manager.

Can I bring someone with me when I am dealing with Ontario Works?

Yes. You have the right to bring a person of your choice with you. If you need more time or help to understand the documents, ask for copies to take away and read before you sign. If you need an interpreter, ask the OW office. Your spouse who lives with you should come to the interview.

What is an Income Reporting Statement?

You must complete an Income Reporting Statement (IRS) every month to receive your monthly benefits. You must declare all income and attach copies of verification (such as pay stubs). It must be received on or shortly after the 16th of each month to avoid any delay in your benefits. The amount of your financial assistance payment is based on your reported income. If your Income Statement is not filled out correctly or if verification is not attached, it will be returned to you and payment may be delayed.

How do I complete an Income Reporting Statement?

Please download a sample Income Reporting Statement.

Remember, if there is a spouse in the benefit unit, he or she must sign the income reporting statement along with the applicant.

How do I receive a cheque every month?

 To receive your monthly benefits you must complete an Income Reporting Statement every month and declare all income you receive. Copies of the verification of this income must be attached. This statement is due on the 16th of each month. You also must provide all information requested by the office to verify your ongoing eligibility.

How do earnings from a job affect Ontario Works assistance?

Contact your Case Manager if you have a job offer or are receiving earnings from a job. There may be benefits and earnings exemptions to assist you in becoming financially independent. There are some instances were full earnings are not deducted. Please discuss with your case manager.

See the 362 Montreal St. page for hours and location details.

What are earnings exemptions? How do I calculate earning deductions from my monthly cheque?

Detailed answers to these questions can be found on the Ministry website.

What if I do not agree with a decision on my case?

See "Appealing a decision" on the Ontario Works main page.

What are employment-related activities?

The Employment assistance page offers listing of resources and services that can help you find employment.  Here are 12 possible employment-related activities:

  1. Completing your Grade 12
  2. Creating a resume, updating your resume
  3. Contact employers, attend interviews
  4. Workshops
  5. Job finding clubs
  6. Short-term job specific training programs
  7. Upgrading, including literacy, numeracy and computer skills
  8. Job specific skills
  9. Ontario Works Employment Placement and Community Placement Opportunities
  10. Addiction treatment
  11. Pardons
  12. Counselling

What is Non-Compliance?

Non-Compliance is failure, without good cause, to follow the rules of eligibility (including your Participation Agreement which can result in temporary cancellation of your assistance.

Do you provide assistance for medication?

If you are eligible for Ontario Works assistance you will receive with your monthly cheque a monthly Drug Benefit Eligibility Card. The Province of Ontario decides which medications will be covered under this card. You may also be eligible for medical benefits (including a drug card) for up to 6 months if your OW assistance is cancelled due to employment income. Speak to your case manager for more details. If you are not eligible for Ontario Works, you may be eligible under the Trillium Drug Program.

What other benefits are available to Ontario Works recipients?

There may be other benefits to assist recipients of with Ontario Works Assistance. These may include medical and employment related benefits.

Please contact your Case Manager to see if there are any additional benefits, and if you meet the specific eligibility criteria.

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