Help for people not receiving financial assistance

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Essential Health and Social Supports (EHSS) program

The Essential Health and Social Supports (EHSS) program helps Ottawa residents who cannot afford to pay for items or services needed to maintain their housing and for health items that are not available through other programs. EHSS may help to pay for things like:

  • Urgent dental care and dentures
  • Eye exams and glasses
  • Fuel/gas/hydro arrears, deposits and reconnection fees
  • Rent arrears and deposits
  • Assistive Devices Program (ADP) 25% consumer contribution
  • Bathroom aids
  • Surgical and diabetic supplies
  • Cremations and burials

Who can get EHSS?

If you receive or earn a low income and have limited savings, we may be able to help. If you are receiving Ontario Works or ODSP, you should talk to your case worker. A case worker must first approve your application. The City of Ottawa will not pay for an item or service that has already been purchased.

Apply for EHSS

Financial assessment

To be financially eligible, a family's net income and assets cannot be greater than the allowable amounts for their family size. Financial eligibility for EHSS is based on maximum asset levels and low income cut-offs (LICOs)

  • Assets include cash, bank accounts, RRSPs, a second property, or anything you own that can be converted into cash
  • Income includes earnings, pensions, employment insurance, child/spousal support, private insurance, or any other source of money coming in
  • A low income cut-off is an income threshold published by Statistics Canada, to learn more about LICO visit, Statistics Canada low income cut-offs

To see if you qualify, use the Asset Table (step 1) and income table with Eligibility Estimator (step 2):

Step 1 - Asset Table

Are your family household assets less than the maximum allowable asset level?

Family household includes you, your spouse/common-law partner and dependant adults (18 years or older) and children (17 years or younger) living with you.

For example, you have $500 in the bank and your spouse owns a car worth $1,500. Your family assets equal $2,000 which is below the maximum asset level.

Using the table, identify your family household size and determine if your asset level is less than the maximum asset level shown.

Table 1 Maximum asset level

Number of dependants


Applicant & spouse/common-law partner

Maximum asset levels based on family size for EHSS program


$ 5,000

$ 7,500


$ 5,500

$ 8,000


$ 6,000

$ 8,500


$ 6,500

$ 9,000


$ 7,000

$ 9,500


$ 7,500

$ 10,000


$ 8,000

$ 10,500


$ 8,500

$ 11,000

Step 2: Income Table and Income Eligibility Estimator (LICO)

Is your family household income less than the maximum allowable income level?

Table 2 Maximum income level

Family size Monthly net income Annual net income Annual gross income
1 person $1824.92 $21,899 $26,426
2 person $2221.08 $26,653 $32,899
3 person $2765.75 $33,189 $40,445
4 person $3450.50 $41,406 $49,106
5 person $3929.00 $47,148 $55,695
6 person $4357.42 $52,289 $62,814
7 person or more $4785.75 $57,429 $69,935
  • Monthly LICO is based on 2019 after tax rate for family size
  • LICO rates used by Employment and Social Services are based on population size for the City of Ottawa and net monthly or yearly amounts. Other programs, services or jurisdictions may use the LICO rates differently
  • Subject to change
Required fields are marked with an asterisk

Try the Income Eligibility Estimator (LICO)

To use this estimator, enter the total number of your household size, and where applicable, the monthly net income for you, your spouse/common-law partner dependant adults (18 years or older) and children (17 years or younger) living with you.

What is your family size? For example, if you are living with your spouse and have one child, your family size is 3.

What is the monthly net income for each family member living with you?

Net income is the income remaining after all taxes and other deductions are taken off, for example the balance left on your pay check.

This includes the monthly net income for you, your spouse/common-law partner and dependant adults (18 years or older) and children (17 years or younger) living with you. If there is no income for the family members or not applicable, enter 0.

Step 3: Telephone interview

Call 3-1-1

  • Press 1 for service in English
  • Press 4 for Social Services

You will need to give the following information for all persons in your household:

  • Full name, date of birth and address
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Status in Canada
  • Income and assets

If you appear to qualify for EHSS, you will get an intake appointment to meet a case worker in-person. This service is currently not available in-person due to COVID-19 closures.

If you are in a crisis or emergency situation, explain your crisis during the call to get a priority appointment.

Step 4: Intake appointment

  • A case worker will review the information you gave over the phone
  • Bring required documents to your appointment
  • If you are married, your spouse will need to be with you to fill out and sign forms

Required documents

Documents that you must bring to the EHSS appointment for you and all family members living with you:


  • Birth verification
  • Social Insurance card(s)


  • Updated bankbook or statements (not transaction slips)
  • Investments, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, RRSP, RIF, RESP
  • Second properties and leisure properties such as a boat, cottage, etc.


  • Verification of all income such as Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan (Retirement or Disability), Quebec Pension Plan, Gains, private pension, private insurance income, Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB), alimony or child support, Employment Insurance, roomer, boarder or rental income, pay stubs and any other source of income


  • Proof that you live in Ottawa such as a rent receipt, lease, mortgage document, hydro bill, etc.


  • Life insurance policy
  • Pre-paid funeral contract

If you do not agree with the decision

First discuss the decision with your caseworker so the issue can be explained in detail. If you still do not agree, you can ask for a review of the decision. This is called an internal review. The person who does the review will not be the same person who made the decision you do not agree with.