Ontario Works provides short-term social assistance to eligible persons in need.  It is intended as a last resort and only after all other options have been explored.

The Ontario Works legislation sets out the rules for eligibility and monthly budgetary amounts.

Eligibility for assistance is based on:

  1. Financial Need
  2. Assets and Income
  3. Participation Requirements

1. Financial Need:

Eligibility for Ontario Works assistance is based on financial need taking into consideration financial resources available to applicants/participants.  Financial resources include assets and various types of income.

2. Assets & Income:

Assets: To be eligible for assistance, the total value of assets held by applicants/participants and their dependants must be less than the legislated asset level for the benefit unit. Assets include:

  • cash, bonds, bank accounts, debentures, stocks, certificates, the cash surrender value of a life insurance policy, interest in property, a beneficial interest in assets held in trust and available to the benefit unit, vehicles, and other property which can be readily converted into cash.

Income: Applicants/participants are required to pursue all sources of income that are or will become available to him/her, as well as their dependants including those under their temporary care.  To be eligible for assistance, the applicant/participant’s income must be below the level determined for the benefit unit. Income includes:

  • Earnings, Child Support, Government Pensions, Employment Insurance payments, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board payments, and all income of any nature or kind received by or on behalf of the applicant or participant, members of the benefit unit, and a dependant on whose behalf temporary care assistance is paid, unless otherwise exempted.

3. Participation Requirements

The Ontario Works Act requires applicants/participants to negotiate and enter into agreements to participate in employment related activities.  Applicants/participants must fulfill their responsibilities under the participation agreements to maintain eligibility for Ontario Works assistance.

Early Employment Measures include active job search activities carried out independently or within a structured job-search program.

Referrals to programs of education are made for participants in need of basic education.

The Learning, Earning and Parenting (LEAP) program helps young parents aged 16 – 25 years complete their education and assists the family in becoming self reliant.  Participation in LEAP is required for young parents under 18 years of age who have not completed high school.  Parents aged 18 – 25 years in receipt of Ontario Works assistance may participate in LEAP if they have not completed high school.

Community Placement activities assist participants in gaining skills and experience through placement with community nonprofit agencies on community projects.  Through participation in this employment related activity, participants may improve skills and, gain work references and more self confidence as they move into the paid work force.

Employment Placement and Supports to Self Employment are employment measures prescribed under the Ontario Works legislation to assist participants to find paid employment and achieve financial independence.  Participants who need additional supports are provided with assistance to be placed in paid jobs.

Ontario Works FAQ