Social Assistance Programs2024-07-04T11:49:08-04:00

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TBDSSAB delivers social assistance programs, including Ontario Works, throughout the District of Thunder Bay. Our Social Assistance Programs empowers people in need to achieve self-sufficiency through financial aid and employment assistance. We also partner with community services to connect our clients with education, training, and community or employment placements.

Social Assistance Programs FAQ

Financial Assistance

How to Apply

As of June 21, 2021, there is a new process to apply for Ontario Works.  A Centralized Intake team will take your application

1. Online Application – click here

After you complete your online application, the local office will contact you with an appointment time.  If you do not have a contact number, please contact your TBDSSAB office


2. Telephone Screening

To apply for social assistance, contact the Intake and Benefits Administration Unit at 1.888.999.1142

Ontario Works

Short-term assistance to individuals and families for basic needs, shelter, and emergency assistance.

People who qualify for assistance may also be eligible to receive benefits.  Examples of some benefits include: prescription drug coverage, dental and vision care for dependent children, diabetic supplies, surgical supplies and dressings, medical transportation costs, Transition Child Benefit and Extended Health Benefits, dental, and employment related expenses.

For further information see the Ontario Works Rate Chart and Earnings Exemption Chart.

How to Apply to Ontario Works



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.


Employment Assistance

Employment assistance is available to assist Ontario Works recipients in securing employment and becoming self-sufficient. Programs include:

  • Community Placement Program – Community placements are unpaid community services (volunteering) that provide participants with experience and improved skills.
  • Enhanced Employment Placement Program – Assists job-ready participants into paid employment.
    For further information on any of these programs, please contact your local Ontario Works delivery agent.

Employment Readiness Scale (ERS) Assessments can be completed anytime at 


Employment workshops are free and are open to all Ontario Works participants.

To register for workshops contact your Caseworker.

FREE Lunch for Workshop Participants.

Other supports are offered through The District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board (TBDSSAB) to help individuals successfully gain employment including:

  • Transportation – funds may be provided if you have participation requirements or if you are voluntarily involved in employment programs.
  • Childcare – If you are participating in Ontario Works programs, you are eligible to receive childcare.
  • Clothing Needs  –  If you need clothing for school or a job, contact your caseworker.
  • Request for Employment Assistance Funds  – When you are successful in finding work while participating in the Ontario Works Program and need specific items in order to begin your employment (a uniform, work boots, etc.) funds can be requested using the Request for Employment Assistance Funds form.
    File: Request for Employment Assistance Funds Form, PDF
  • Special Diets – You may be eligible for a special allowance if you are pregnant or breast feeding, diabetic, or require another type of special diet.  The form must be completed by a health practitioner.  You may also be eligible for a special diet allowance if you have a medical condition with special dietary needs.  You can request this form from your caseworker.
  • Direct Bank Deposit – Your money will be deposited into your bank account on the 1st of each month.  Complete the direct bank deposit form/card available from your caseworker.
  • Pay-Direct to Landlord  – You can have your rent paid directly to your landlord.  You need to complete the authorization form.
    File:  Authorization for Pay Direct to Landlord Form, PDF

Ask your Ontario Works case worker how to benefit from these additional support services.

Job Search Resources

Below are a few useful resources and templates to help you on your employment journey.

Reviews & Appeals

Internal Review Process

Service recipients may use the Internal Review Process if they do not agree with a decision made with respect to social assistance.

To proceed with the internal review, the applicant/participant must submit in writing, a request for an internal review within thirty (30) days of the decision.  The letter must outline why they disagree with the decision.

The Case Presenting Officer performing the internal review is neutral and was not involved in making the decision under review.  The Case Presenting Officer will uphold, vary or reverse the decision.  A letter will be sent to the applicant/participant notifying him/her of the internal review decision.

An internal review must be completed prior to submitting an appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT).

Appeals to the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT)

Applicants/participants have the right to appeal decisions of internal reviews with respect to income assistance and benefits.  Decisions regarding discretionary benefits are not appealable.

The letter will advise if the decision can be appealed to the Social Benefits Tribunal, and will provide instructions on how to appeal.  Applicants/participants appealing an internal review decision can request temporary financial assistance until a decision is made.  If temporary assistance is granted, it must be repaid if the appeal is lost.

An application form can be downloaded here (PDF) or any local Ontario Works delivery site.

Reporting Fraud

The intent of the Ontario Works program is to help people in temporary financial need find sustainable employment and achieve self-reliance through the provision of effective, integrated employment services and financial assistance.

Are you aware of a situation in which someone is receiving Ontario Works who should not be?  To report a case of suspected fraud contact:

  • The District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board (TBDSSAB)
    Phone:  807-766-2111
  • The Ministry of Children and Community Social Services
    Social Assistance Fraud Hotline
    Online:  Online Reporting Form (link opens in new tab)
  • Mail:  Ministry of Children, Community & Social Services
    Welfare Fraud Hotline
    Box 333
    Toronto, ON  M7A 1E9
Apply Online

Resources for Employers & Community Partners

Organizations interested in offering volunteer opportunities to Ontario Works recipients can contact:

Jennifer Lible, Manager, Social Assistance Programs

Organizations interested in offering employment or training opportunities to Ontario Works recipients can contact:

Jennifer Lible, Manager, Social Assistance Programs

News & Updates

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