What is self-employment?

The self-employment program is an Ontario Works employment activity that supports participants, who have a realistic business idea, to successfully develop their business. Self-employment is a full time activity, however, depending on the circumstances; part time involvement may be approved. 

 Who can participate?

Ontario Works participants who:

  • are legally entitled to operate a business in Canada

  • have a viable/realistic business idea

  • have a business idea that can be started with minimum start-up costs

  • have given their business idea some serious thought and started preliminary research

  • can understand and articulate the gap in the market their product/service will fill

  • can commit to their business for at least 30 hours per week for 60 weeks

  • have no health barriers that would limit their ability to carry out their business idea

  • have stable housing, transportation and childcare supports in place or in the process of being referred/secured.

How does it work?

Ontario Works participants interested to pursue self-employment are:

  • to discuss their interest to participate in the self-employment program with their case coordinator

  • to attend a mandatory Self-employment Information Session, where they will receive instruction on how to complete an application form and learn about the requirements of the program.

  • to complete a Self-Assessment Application form to help determine if they and their business idea are suitable for the program

  • to be working closely with a self-employment case coordinator, once accepted in the program.

What additional supports may be available?

Self-employment and small business development are two of the leading growth areas in the province's economy. Providing Ontario Works participants the opportunity to become self-sufficient through self-employment is another way of helping participants to find and keep a job.
If you become involved with the self-employment program, the following additional supports may be available to you:

  • the support of a self-employment case coordinator

  • referrals to self-employment resources in the community. 

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