Amanda Turkiewicz

Ontario Works (OW)

If you need money right away for food and housing, Ontario Works might be able to help you!

Ontario Works provides financial and employment assistance to people in temporary financial need.  People receiving assistance through Ontario Works are expect to participate in a wide range of employment assistance activities which help them prepare for, find, and keep a job.

Who is eligible for Ontario Works?

- All applicants must be residents of Ontario.

- Applicants must be eligible financially and willing to participate in employment activities.

How do I know if I qualify financially?

- Financial need is determined according to family size, income, assets, and housing costs and is updated as circumstances change. For example, a single person can only have assets (either cash or specific items that can be easily converted to cash) valued at up to $520.  For families, the asset limit is higher.

- Participation expectations are laid out in an agreement, which is signed by each individual applicant and updated as activities are completed or modified.

- The agreement includes a plan to take part in employment assistance activities that support the individual's shortest route to a job.

The application for Ontario Works is a two-stage process beginning with a call to an Ontario Works Intake Screening Unit (call centre).  During the initial telephone interview, you will be provided with information about the program and asked for information about your financial and employment situation.

The second stage of the application is completed in person at your local Ontario Works office. There you will be required to complete and sign a detailed application form and a participation agreement outlining a plan to return as quickly as possible to paid employment.
To begin the application process you will need to call the Intake Screening Unit (call centre) nearest to your home.  The Social Worker can help you find this location.  

Am I required to take a literacy screening test?

All Ontario Works applicants without Grade 12 (high school diploma) or equivalent without proof of a learning disorder are required to take a literacy screening test. In addition, Ontario Works participants whose reading, writing, and/or math skills appear to be a barrier to employment may be asked to complete the screening test and/or be sent for an assessment.
Some people haven't been able to obtain or keep a job because they do not have basic reading, writing and math skills. Literacy screening and training connects people on assistance with the help they need.

How does Ontario Works help people on social assistance find employment?

Ontario Works is focused on helping people find and keep employment. Ontario Works provides a range of employment assistance such as:

- Practical help in finding a job, such as writing résumés and letters of application and how to perform well in interviews, delivered through resource centres

- Community and employment placements to gain working experience

- Basic education and job skills training such as keyboarding, forklift operating, chainsaw operating, hospitality

- Support in developing self-employment opportunities

- Learning, Earning, and Parenting (LEAP) to help young parents finish high school, learn more about parenting, and get a job

- Literacy screening and training

- Addiction treatment

- Earning exemptions that allow participants to earn income as they move back into the workforce

What is a drug card?

When you have qualified for Ontario Works, you are now entitled to receive a Drug card. This will allow you access to medications that are on the Ontario Drug Benefits (ODB) formulary.  If a medication is not covered, your doctor can write a letter asking for a special release for you.  If this is applicable, it may need to be reviewed and renewed annually.

The Ontario Works website provides you with the latest news about Ontario Works, answers to frequently asked questions, and access to publications for participants, employers, communities, and the public. To apply for Ontario Works financial and employment assistance call your local social assistance office or speak with your Social Worker for assistance. Information can also be obtained on the Ministry of Community and Social Services Website or speak to your social worker for more information.