Essential Health and Social Supports (EHSS)

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

If you receive or earn a low income and have limited savings, we may be able to help. To see if you might qualify, try our eligibility estimator. 

If you are receiving Ontario Works or ODSP, talk to your case worker. A case worker must first approve your application.

Before you begin

If you are married, have a partner or are in a spousal relationship, both you and your partner must attend the intake appointment.


To be financially eligible, a family's net income and assets cannot be greater than the allowable amounts for their family size as listed below. 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.
  • LICO is an income threshold set by the Government of Canada and changes yearly.  Currently, the 2022 threshold is used to determine eligibility. To learn more about LICO visit, Statistics Canada low-income cut-offs.

To see if you might 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.

Maximum asset levels based on family size for EHSS program
Number of dependants Applicant Applicant & spouse/common-law partner
0 $ 5,000 $ 7,500
1 $ 5,500 $ 8,000
2 $ 6,000 $ 8,500
3 $ 6,500 $ 9,000
4 $ 7,000 $ 9,500
5 $ 7,500 $ 10,000
6 $ 8,000 $ 10,500
7 $ 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?

Maximum income level
Family size Monthly net income Annual net income
1 person $2,028.90 $24,346.80
2 person $2,469.30 $29,631.60
3 person $3,074.85 $36,898.20
4 person $3,836.10 $46,033.20
5 person $4,368.15 $52,417.80
6 person $4,844.40 $58,132.80
7 person or more $5,320.65 $63,847.80

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

Try the Income Eligibility Estimator

What you need

We will ask you for basic personal and financial information for you and your family members.  You will need to provide any documents from the list below that relate to your situation.


  • Birth verification
  • Social Insurance card(s)
  • Documentation confirming your status in Canada


  • 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, Guaranteed Annual Income System, private pension, private insurance income, Workplace Safety Insurance Board, spousal 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
  • Prepaid funeral contract



Call 3-1-1 Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4 pm

  • Language (1 for English, 2 for French)
  • Select 4 for Community and Social Services
  • TTY Line 613-580-2401

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

All information you provide is confidential as per the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

What's next

Eligibility will be assessed during a telephone interview or in person by a case worker at one of our Employment and Social Service Centres.

If you do not agree with our decision

If you do not agree with a decision about your application, first discuss the issue with your case worker so the decision can be explained in detail. If you still do not agree, you can ask for a review of our decision. This is called an internal review. To make an Internal Review request, you must write a letter and provide it to your Ontario Works office. The person who does the review will not be the same person who made the original decision.


For more information, call 3-1-1 Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4 pm

  • Language (1 for English, 2 for French)
  • Select 4 for Community and Social Services
  • TTY Line 613-580-2401