Discretionary Benefits for Recipients of Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program

Question: In your previous article, you set out some mandatory benefits that one can receive from Ontario Works and Ontario Disability benefits. You indicated that that there are also benefits which are discretionary. Could you explain these?

Answer: As mentioned in the previous article, as a recipient of either Ontario Works or Ontario Disability benefits, you may be entitled to more than just financial assistance. There are additional benefits which are mandatory so long as you qualify and there are also benefits which are discretionary (meaning you do not automatically qualify, but you can be considered for these). This article focuses on discretionary benefits.

Some of the Ontario Works benefits which are discretionary include the below. Most are already covered under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) as mandatory benefits. One discretionary benefit available from Ontario Disability benefits is the benefit for low-cost energy-conservation measures, described below.

a) Dental Care for Adults. You may be approved for dental care even though you are on Ontario Works if the dental care is necessary to relieve pain or for medical reasons, or if the dental care would support your employability.

b) Vision Care for Adults. You may be approved for the costs of eyeglasses, including lenses and frames, repairs, or replacement if they are necessary due to a significant change in prescription or if the vision care would support your employability.

c) Prosthetic Device/Hearing Aid. If you need a prosthetic appliance (any device that replaces or strengthens a bodily function), you may be approved for this. Some examples include a hearing aid, a back brace, artificial limbs, and surgical stockings.

d) Child Care Costs. You may be approved for child care costs if you need this to attend a medical appointment.

e) Vocational Training. You may be approved for vocational training costs if the training is related to acquiring skills/knowledge to obtain employment in that particular vocation, which should be connected to a job available in the local labour market.

f) Employment-Related Expenses. You may be approved for employment-related expenses if you need them to sustain employment. Some examples include clothing, grooming, safety equipment, necessary transportation, telephone expenses, criminal reference checks, medical examinations, and child care costs.

g) Housing-Related Benefits. Some housing-related benefits you may be approved for include moving expenses and storage fees if the latter are for items considered essential and to be used at a future date.

Also available under this category is low-cost energy and water conservation measures, including caulking, sealing of doors/windows, insulation for hot water pipes/hot water tanks, and flow restrictors for showerheads.

h) Travel/Transportation for Non-Health Related Purposes. Some examples include moving to a home outside of Ontario where it is in the recipient’s best interests and transportation costs for hospital visits or funeral attendance of next of kin.

i) Funerals and Burials/Cremation. If an Ontario Works recipient dies, the costs of their funeral and burial/cremation may be paid by Ontario Works.

j) Special Services, Items, and Payments. This is essentially a miscellaneous category and includes such items as chiropractor services, certification by a qualified medical doctor/psychologist, costs of completing medical forms not covered by OHIP, replacement/repair of essential furniture/appliances, replacement/repair of smoke alarms/batteries, electric breast pumps, baby supplies, etc.

This is legal information and not legal advice. If you need further information or need legal advice, please call our Intake Line at 416-441-1764 ext. 1 or complete our online Intake Form.