Ontario Works - FAQs

Q: Am I eligible for Ontario Works assistance if I am working?

A:   You may be eligible for Ontario Works assistance if you are working. Your eligibility will be calculated on a monthly basis based on the amount of your income and your entitlement. Please see our information on qualifying for Financial Assistance for more details.

Q: Am I eligible for assistance if I am waiting for other income?

A: If you are applying for Ontario Works assistance while waiting for other income to start you may be eligible. In order to be eligible you will be required to sign an Assignment of Benefits form for the appropriate amount of income you are waiting for. The Assignment of Benefit form will be sent directly to your future income source agency in order to repay Ontario Works directly for any monies that are being issued for the same time period that you are receiving Ontario Works assistance.Please see our information on qualifying for Financial Assistance for more details. 

Q: What types of income support may be available to me?

A: Basic financial assistance provides a basic allowance for food and shelter. In addition to basic financial assistance and a monthly drug card participants may be eligible for the following benefits:
  • Advanced Age Item
  • Upfront Child Care Expenses
  • Dental Care
  • Discretionary Benefits
  • Employment Start Up
  • Special Diets
  • Special Necessities
  • Temporary Care Assistance
  • Vision Care
  • Domiciliary Care Assistance
  • Funerals and Burial Assistance
If you require any of the above services please talk to your worker.

Q: How does Ontario Works calculate my assistance amount?

A: Calculation of financial assistance is completed to determine the applicant’s budgetary needs for financial assistance including basic needs, shelter and benefits.

The number of adults in the family benefit unit calculates the Basic Needs component and the applicant’s or benefit unit’s current living arrangements, and family demographics calculates the Shelter component. Using the above calculations and the social assistance rates established by the province, your worker will be able to calculate your monthly assistance.

Q: How do I find out if my monthly assistance has been issued?

A: Our Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is an automated telephone system.   It is available Monday to Friday ~ 8:00am to 9:00pm; Saturday and Sunday ~ Noon to 5:00pm
Step 1: Call 1-800-808-2268
Step 2: Enter your nine-digit Member ID number and your four digit Access IVR number
Step 3: Use the telephone options to get information about your file such as when your last cheque was issued.

Q: How do I receive my personal number to use the IVR?

A: Your caseworker will provide you with the your IVR access number.

Q: Is my income deducted dollar for dollar from my monthly assistance?

A: Generally, if you have received 3 months of continuous assistance, you will be eligible to receive earnings exemptions. This means that half of your net income will be deducted as income from your Ontario Works entitlement. If you do not have 3 months of continuous assistance and you are working when you apply, your income is deducted dollar for dollar until you have 3 months of continuous assistance. For more detailed information, please speak with your worker.

Q: What do I need to send in each month in order to receive my next month’s assistance? 


A:  Your requirements to submit each month will depend on your individual circumstances. Your worker will advise you of your monthly requirements.

Q:  How do I complete an Income Statement?

A: 1. The REPORTING PERIOD is located in the box immediately below your name. You must declare the source and amount of all monies received by you or anyone in your family during the time period indicated. The period is the 16th of one month to the 15th of the following month.
2.  To the right of the REPORTING PERIOD is a box that specifies the DUE DATE that the Income Reporting Statement should be returned to this office. DO NOT submit the statement prior to this date. 
Please note that you should contact your worker immediately if there has been a change in your circumstances in addition to recording the change on your Income Reporting Statement.
3.  If you have declared income, please submit receipts/pay stubs along with the Income Reporting Statement as verification of the amount declared.
Failure to submit your Income Reporting Statement will result in a delay in receiving your assistance.

Q: I have child care costs. Does Ontario Works take this into consideration when determining the amount of income to be deducted from my monthly assistance? 


A: If you are a sole support parent or if you are a two parent family and neither parent is available to care for the child/children and you pay child care expenses while you are working, you may claim these as an employment expense. This means that the amount you pay for child care, may be deducted from the amount that you earn.

Q: If I become ineligible to receive Ontario Works assistance due to my income from employment can I still get a drug card? 


A: If you have been in receipt of Ontario Works assistance and your income made you ineligible you may be eligible to receive assistance with a drug card and other health benefits for a period of 6 months after you exit from social assistance or until benefits become available from your employer, whichever comes first.

Q: The drugs I am required to take are not covered on my drug card. What do I do?

A: Unfortunately Ontario Works is unable to assist with drugs that are not covered under the monthly drug card. 


If you are in this situation there are two options for you to investigate. 

1)  You can ask your physician to prescribe another drug that does the same thing and is covered by the drug card; or

2)  Ask your physician to request special authorization from the Ministry of Health to have the drug covered.

Q: I require a special diet. Is there additional assistance available for this?


A: If you or a member of your benefit unit requires a special diet due to a medical condition you will be given a special diet form to take to your doctor to be completed.  Once the completed form is returned it will be reviewed by your worker to determine if the diet you require is covered under the Special Diet Schedule.  Please keep in mind that not all special diets are covered.

Q: What type of employment supports may be available to me?

A: Basic Employment Assistance support may be available to you to help with your employability. Depending on the employment activity you are currently participating in you may be eligible for the following supports:
  • Clothing/Special Equipment
  • Supplies and Services
  • Transportation
  • Tuition
  • Assessment Fees
If you require the above supports, please talk to your worker.

Q: If I do not wish to participate in education at this time what other employment activities are available to me?


A: You and your worker may decide you possess the skill set to complete an Independent Job Search; this involves looking for a job independently using various resource tools. If you and your worker decide you are not ready for this type of job searching, you may decide to complete a Structured Job Search. Job searching may involve working with an outside employment agency such as Employment Services Elgin where the following services may be available.

Job search support services
  • Resume writing
  • Work Start program
  • Job Searching Strategies workshop
  • Life Skills workshop
  • Interview workshops
  • Scheduled attendance at the Resource Centre
  • Access to the local job market using the local job bank   

Q: I need to expand my skill set before I job search. What else is available to me?

A: Plenty!   

Have you ever thought of offering your services to your community, having a sociable experience and gaining skills at the same time? 


 Community Participation could offer you all these amenities.   Community Participation is any unpaid community service activity under the sponsorship of communities and/or public or non-profit organizations/agencies that allows you the opportunity to gain new skills that you could transfer to other employment positions in the future. If already volunteering in the community, this may be considered a self-initiated Community Participation so, if you are interested in this type of employment activity discuss it with your worker. 


How about a Co-op opportunity that pays?  Are you returning for a post secondary education but unsure if you have chosen the right profession? Why not try Employment Placement.
This is an employment activity offering an opportunity to broaden your job skills while being paid. This placement may offer insight into certain aspects of a desired profession before entering school or, it may open up a job opportunity you never thought could be available.   If you are interested in this type of employment activity, discuss it with your worker. 
Do you have a creative ability to produce goods or services for sale? Then Self-Employment may be of interest to you. 

You can take an interest/creative talent and make it into a paying business. If you're interested, talk to your worker about getting into the program. Participants interested in a self-employment activity must develop a viable business plan and must be willing to work towards expanding the business until they are self sufficient. 

The program requirements are as follows:

  • Development and filing of a business plan within eight weeks of registration
  • Obtaining a first sale within 16 weeks of registration
  • Remain in full compliance with income reporting and other requirements specified in the Ontario Works Act.
We even have an Addiction Treatment Program.   If you need help with substance abuse recovery before you enter into employment activities, we offer addiction screening with a qualified addictions counsellor right in the local office.   Your anonymity and your rights will be protected while you are in the program. Participation in an approved substance abuse recovery program may be considered a necessary and required first step towards self-reliance. It may also be a required first step in participation in employment activities.