Apply for Ontario Works

If you don’t have enough money for food and housing, or are in financial need, you can apply for financial and employment assistance through Ontario Works. 

Ontario Works offers money to help with living expenses including food and rent, health benefits, stability supports, and employment supports to help you find and keep a job.

The Ontario Works Act and regulations set the social assistance rates. How much money you could receive depends on your family size, housing costs and income. Refer to the Ontario Works rates for basic needs and shelter.

Before you begin

  • If you were receiving Ontario Works benefits in Ottawa and your file was closed within the past six months, call your former case worker to re-apply.
  • If you are married, have a partner or are in a spousal relationship, both you and your partner must attend the intake appointment.
  • Dependent adults 18 years of age or over must also attend the appointment.


You might be eligible for Ontario Works if you:

  • Live in Ontario (and are not a visitor or a tourist)
  • Need money to help pay for food and housing costs
  • Be willing to take part in activities that will help you find, prepare for and/or keep a job. Some exceptions apply.

City of Ottawa staff will determine eligibility in accordance with the Ontario Works Act. Visit the Province of Ontario website to view the Ontario Works policy directives. They are the rules and guidelines that Ontario Works program staff follow when making decisions about eligibility and benefits.

What you need

You will be asked basic personal and financial information for you and your family members:

  • Date(s) of birth
  • Documents confirming you live in Ontario (and are not a visitor or a tourist)
  • Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) number
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Housing costs (rent/mortgage, heat and other utilities)
  • Income (any money you receive from a job, Employment Insurance, WSIB, etc.)

Assets (anything you own such as a bank account, vehicle, RRSP, etc.)


Depending on your situation, you will either apply for Ontario Works assistance online or by phone.

Apply by phone if you are in one of the following situations:

  • Do not have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Do not have email
  • Require an interpreter
  • Are under the age of 18 and not living with your parent(s)
  • Are self employed
  • Are caring for a child under 18 years of age who you have no legal obligation to support (Temporary Care)
  • Have a same day, urgent need

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

  • Language (select 1 for English, 2 for French)
  • Select 4 for Community and Social Services
  • Select 3 for Ontario Works
  • TTY Line 1-800-855-0511

This call should take about 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

If the above criteria do not apply to you, you can apply:


Apply at The application:

  • Is available 24/7 
  • Should take 20 to 30 minutes to complete


Call toll free 1-888-999-1142 Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 5 pm.

The call should take about an hour to complete.


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

What's next

Your local office will contact you to review your application. You may be asked to provide information in addition to information you already gave during the application process. You must provide this information as a condition of ongoing eligibility.

If you are eligible, you will meet with your case worker within 30 days to talk about supports you may need. This can include basic needs, health, community supports, life skills, and employment activities (looking for work, going to school or training).

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.

Ontario Works Information Video

The Ontario Works Information Video is part of the application process. It provides an overview of your rights and responsibilities while receiving financial assistance and stability supports under the Ontario Works program. You and your family members 18 years or older will be asked to declare that they have viewed this video. The video is also available in FrenchArabicSpanish and Somali.


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
  • Select 3 for Ontario Works
  • TTY Line 1-800-855-0511 

Employment and Social Services Centres are open Monday to Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm.