I am in financial need. How can I apply for Ontario Works?
You might be eligible for Ontario Works (OW) if you are over the age of 16, are in financial need
because you and your family do not have enough money to cover your living expenses, you live in
Ontario and have assets within the allowable asset limits. The intent of the Ontario Works program
is to “help people in temporary financial need find sustainable employment and achieve selfreliance through the provision of effective, integrated employment services and financial
In order to apply for OW, you can either contact your local OW office or you can use the OW’s
online application form. To find the OW office nearest to you, you may use the provincial
government’s online Ontario Social Assistance Office Finder where you enter your address or postal
code. Go to www.ontario.ca/socialassistance and look in the section about Ontario Works.
It’s important to note that when you apply for OW, you will be asked about your personal and
financial information about yourself, each member of your family, and anyone else who lives with
you. OW will also ask questions about your assets, which are things you own and any money or
savings you have. Once you have applied for OW, you will receive an appointment to meet with
an OW worker. You will be expected to have your family’s identification, bank and tax documents
ready. At that time you will be interviewed and you will also have to sign a number of forms. If
your spouse lives with you, he/she should come to the interview because he/she will have to sign
documents as well. If you need an interpreter who speaks your language, tell the OW office.
Generally the OW benefit provides up to $733 a month for basic needs and shelter if you are
single. This amount may increase if you live with family members, such as a spouse. OW also offers
employment supports to help you find and keep a job such as job-specific training and workshops.
OW may deny your application for several reasons. First of all, you must qualify financially. This
means that you must need financial help so that you have enough money to live on. It also means
that you must not have savings or assets that are over the allowed limit. Secondly, if you do not
provide the information that OW asks for, you may be denied financial assistance for “failure to
provide information.” Finally, if you do not meet the general requirements of OW, then you may
be denied financial assistance.
If your application for OW is denied, make sure you have the decision in writing. (At this stage
you may want to contact your nearest community legal clinic for assistance.) Then you may file an
Internal Review Request to see if OW will change its decision. If OW does not change its decision,
then you can appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal which has the authority to change the decision.
The above is a simply a brief overview of how to apply for Ontario Works and, if interested,
you should seek more information and/or legal advice. You may start by contacting our intake