While receiving Ontario Works

On this page

Access and update your case information

MyBenefits is an online service for social assistance recipients to report changes in their circumstances or get information about their Ontario Works case. It is available 24/7. With MyBenefits, you can:

  • Send a message to your case worker.
  • Send documents electronically.
  • View monthly statements, including a breakdown of each payment.
  • Receive, view and download letters about your file.
  • Report income and track the status of each submission.
  • Show proof of assistance.
  • Report changes to your address and phone number.
  • Report shelter costs (e.g., rent, mortgage, property tax, maintenance fees).

To use this service, you must have an email address on file and create an account.

Access MyBenefits 

If you are having trouble signing in or registering, visit the Help page or call 1-888-999-6130. For more information, speak with your case worker.

Rights and responsibilities

Learn about your rights and responsibilities for you and your family.

Your rights

  • An interview
  • A decision in writing
  • A chance to have decisions reviewed
  • Benefits available (if you are eligible)

Your responsibilities

  • Attend interviews
  • Look for work and becoming job-ready
  • Keep receipts and statements
  • Tell us about your income and other money received
  • Tell us about your assets
  • Report when something changes in your life and in your family
  • Try to find other sources of income
  • Repay an overpayment
  • Report honestly
  • Participate in employment activities to prepare for and find a job

For more information, visit the Province of Ontario website.

Ontario Works information video

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 employment and financial assistance under the Ontario Works program. Applicants are asked to sign a declaration stating that they have viewed this video. 

[Narrator] Welcome to the Ontario Works Information Session. This video provides an introduction to the Ontario Works program and includes important information about your rights and your responsibilities. All applicants are required to view this video as part of the application process. You will be asked to sign a form confirming that you have watched this video at your in-person intake appointment. Ontario Works is a provincial program that provides financial and employment assistance to people who are in temporary financial need. The provincial government sets the rules and the rates while the City of Ottawa’s Social Services department delivers the program. Ontario Works can provide you with money, and help you upgrade your skills and find a job. To complete your application, you will have an interview with a caseworker within four days of making your online or phone application. You are always welcome to bring someone along with you anytime you meet with your caseworker. This person can be a relative, a friend or someone from the community. To find out if you qualify for Ontario Works, your caseworker will collect information about your personal and housing situation, your immigration status, education, employment history and your income and assets. You will also need to complete and sign some forms. You will need to show your financial records and other important documents to your caseworker at the time of application and again when you meet regularly to update your employment and financial information. If you can’t make a scheduled appointment, it’s important that you call beforehand to make a new one. Please note the City of Ottawa is a scent free environment. Please do not wear perfume or cologne when visiting one of our centres.

Financial Assistance
Man speaking: I was only getting a couple of hours a week at work and I couldn’t make ends meet. So I applied for Ontario Works. They gave me an appointment to meet a caseworker a couple days later. They told me what to bring like ID, my lease, my bank statements and a copy of my most recent résumé. When I met with my caseworker we filled out some forms and talked about my employment past and my education and what I liked to do. Then my caseworker told me that Ontario Works could provide me with money to pay for my basic living expenses like food, rent and utilities. And they gave me a drug card to pay for my prescription needs. It only took a couple days after we met and a deposit was made into my bank account. I was so relieved.

[Narrator] The amount of money you receive from Ontario Works is based on the rates set by the province and will depend on: the size of your family, your housing costs and your income. Most incomes are deducted from your Ontario Works payment. The type of income will determine how much is deducted. Additional benefits may also be available to you for other needs such as medical supplies or dental services.

Employment Assistance
You and your caseworker will work together to develop an action plan that identifies the steps you will take to prepare for and find a job. This action plan is called a “Participation Agreement” and is part of your application for Ontario Works. It will take into account your skills, job experience and will be reflective of the employment opportunities that exist in Ottawa Your spouse and other adult members of your family living with you will also need to sign a Participation Agreement. Participation Agreements are flexible and updated regularly. If you’re not able to participate in an employment activity, it’s important that you talk to your caseworker. Our staff is here to help you achieve your employment goals.

Employment Activities
If you don’t have your grade 12, the Ontario Works program requires that you take a Literacy Screening Test. There are a lot of activities to choose from that will help you prepare for work. For example: English as a second language, training, employment placement or academic upgrading. You may decide to go back to school to improve your reading, writing or math skills and work towards your high school diploma. If you are a parent aged 16 to 25, the Learning, Earning and Parenting (LEAP) Program can help you finish your high school, work on your parenting skills and get a job. Think about which activity is best for you! To help you with your job search, you can go to one of our four employment centres. Our employment centres have job postings, newspapers, phones, photocopiers, fax machines and computers with access to the Internet. Our staff will provide one-on-one coaching and connect you with employers who are hiring. We can also help you with your résumé and prepare you for an interview. Each employment centre has a daycare where you can bring your children while you look for work All of our services are free!

Man speaking: I left home at a very young age and I never graduated high school. I’d had a string of mostly part-time work but never anything full time. I told my caseworker that I wanted to go back to school to get my grade twelve as I felt like it was holding me back. My caseworker told me that I can go back to school and that Ontario Works would help pay for my school registration fees and books. It was great to know one of my options included finally getting my high school diploma. Plus, I could continue to work part time job while I attend school.

[Narrator] Employment Benefits
There is extra money available to help with costs related to your employment activity or when you start working. This may include money for transportation, clothing or uniforms, work boots, tools and special equipment, licensing fees and child care. If you are working, your earnings will be deducted from your Ontario Works payment. However, after three months, only fifty percent of your monthly earnings will be deducted. If you are self-employed, approved expenses can be deducted from your income.

Monthly payments
Your Ontario Works benefits are paid once a month. There are four parts to your monthly payment: The first part is a direct bank deposit statement or a cheque. If you need help to open a bank account or to get identification, talk to your caseworker. The second part is a statement of assistance which gives you a breakdown of your payment. The third is a drug card which covers most prescription drugs for you and your family. You will need to bring the drug card to a pharmacy. The drug card can also pay for eye exams. The fourth part is an income reporting statement which is used to report income, earnings and changes to your situation. For example, you must report if you have a new address, your rent changes, you get a roommate, you get married or separate, or you have a baby. This information is used to calculate your next monthly payment. You must submit an Income Reporting Statement by the sixteenth of each month and attach proof of income such as pay stubs. If you have no income, you may not have to submit an Income Reporting Statement. Your caseworker will let you know. In addition to the financial assistance you get from Ontario Works, the Ontario government has new benefits for singles and families – but you must file your tax return to get them. Filing a tax return is to your advantage even if you don’t work or haven’t filed for a few years. Tax benefits are extra money and are not deducted from your Ontario Works payment. Ask your caseworker for help if you need to find a free tax clinic to file your taxes. For your convenience, the Interactive Voice Response is a free automated phone line that gives you personal information about your Ontario Works file. Within two to three weeks of receiving your first payment, you will get two letters in the mail with your confidential nine-digit Member ID and Personal Identification Number (PIN). You can call the toll free number around the twenty-fifth of each month to get details about your next payment. If you have any questions, or if your Ontario Works file has been suspended, you need to talk to your caseworker as quickly as possible

Man speaking: At one point, I had very little money for food and was having trouble with my roommate. My caseworker was so helpful and she referred me to The Ottawa Foodbank and to a housing agency for advice. I knew I would've dropped out of school again had my caseworker not been there to support me and encourage me.

[Narrator] City of Ottawa staff are knowledgeable about community resources and may refer you to other agencies for additional help such as: a food bank, community legal service or housing agency. If you have a drug or alcohol addiction that is keeping you from working, help is available. If you are a person with a substantial physical or mental disability, talk to your caseworker right away. We may refer you to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). ODSP provides more money and longer term support. Ontario Works can also help you apply for other sources of income such as child and spousal support, Employment Insurance or the Canada Pension Plan. When you find work and no longer need social assistance, we have additional services and benefits to help you stay in the workforce. For example, we can provide: employment coaching if you’re at risk of losing your job, crisis intervention (for example, where to find help if you fall behind in your rent), and a drug card for additional six months to a year while you wait for your employee benefits to kick in.

Man speaking: My car had broken down and Ontario Works was able to help pay for my bus pass while I went to school. It took me four months and I finally graduated! Then I went to their employment centre and an employment specialist helped me find full time work. I’ve been off Ontario Works for two months now and they’re still helping me out I'm still getting a drug card to pay for my medication up until my employee benefits kick in. I can’t believe how much my life has improved in such a short amount of time.

[Narrator] The Ontario Works program is here to help. Communication with your caseworker is important. We will write to tell you of any eligibility or financial decisions we make and the reasons for making them. If you do not agree with a decision, talk to your caseworker talk to the supervisor. Remember to keep in contact, report all income and changes to your situation. We are committed to providing excellent service. If you have any concerns or feedback about the service you receive, good or bad, let us know. For more information about the Ontario Works program or community resources visit: ottawa.ca This is the end of the information session. You can come back to this video and watch it at any time.

End note: Special thanks to City of Ottawa staff who participated in and created this video. This video is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The story depicted in this video is fictional and does not portray any actual persons, companies, products or events.

Status in Canada

All applicants and recipients of Ontario Works must provide documentation to verify their status in Canada.

For more information about residency requirements, visit the Ontario Works policy directives.

Convention refugees

Convention refugees may be eligible for Ontario Works.  Convention refugees are selected by the federal Immigration and Refugee Board based on the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Convention refugees may be sponsored by either the federal government or a private sponsor and are provided with resettlement assistance. Convention refugees who are sponsored may be eligible when the sponsorship ends.

In-country refugee claimants

In-Country (in-land and port of entry) refugee claimants with official documentation confirming they have made a claim for refugee protection are eligible for Ontario Works effective the date they initiated their claim with an immigration officer. Official documentation includes:

  • Refugee Protection Claimant Document (IMM-1442)
  • Acknowledgement of Claim and Notice to Return for Interview Form
  • Entry for Further Examination or Admissibility Hearing Form
  • Acknowledgement of Conditions Form (IMM-1262)

In cases where an individual has a future appointment scheduled with the IRCC to determine if their claim is eligible for referral to the IRB, the status of their claim must be verified one week (five working days) after their scheduled appointment with an immigration officer.

Family-class immigrants

Family class immigrants are sponsored by relatives who live in Canada.

You may be eligible for financial assistance if your sponsor is no longer able to provide for your basic needs, fully or partially. You must try to obtain support from your sponsor unless violence is an issue. In the event of a sponsorship breakdown, any funds issued to the sponsored individual(s) will result in sponsorship debt to the sponsor. The sponsor will be notified by Ontario Works of the potential debt. Special rules apply to family violence.

Refugee claimants

You may be eligible for financial assistance while you wait for your refugee claim hearing with the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). During this waiting period, you may apply for a work permit and are eligible for basic health coverage from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (Interim Federal Health program).


Tourists are people who are in Canada for a short period of time. They are not eligible for Ontario Works.


Visitors are people who are in Canada for a temporary purpose. A visitor may have a tourist visa, student visa or work permit/authorization or may be temporarily re-located from another country (e.g., a natural disaster has forced a community evacuation).

Visitors are not eligible for Ontario Works unless they have made a claim for refugee protection or applied for status as a permanent resident under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)

Cultural interpreter or Sign Language interpreter

If you have a limited knowledge of English or French, you can bring any adult you chose including a cultural interpreter.

You have the right to request cultural interpretation services if your first language is not English or French.

An interpreter can support with the following:

  • Translate information about the programs and services you for which you are eligible.

  • Interpret word for word the message from your case worker who will explain the programs and services for which you may be are eligible for.

Please note that two days are required to book a cultural interpreter if one is needed for an appointment.

If you are a person who is hard of hearing and your preferred method of communication is Sign Language, a Sign Language interpreter can be arranged for you.

Learning, Earning and Parenting (LEAP)

The LEAP program helps meet the needs of young parents on social assistance with financial and stability support. Completing Grade 12 is an important step in planning your future. With the support of a case worker, LEAP provides help to: 

  • Finish high school 
  • Develop employment skills 
  • Gain work experience 
  • Learn more about parenting

The program is: 

  • Mandatory for 16 and 17-year-old parents on Ontario Works who have not completed high school 
  • Optional for eligible single parents and couples aged 18 to 25 who have not completed high school 

LEAP program supports may be used to cover the following expenses: 

  • Child care  
  • School supplies 

Upon finishing high school and an approved parenting program, participants will receive a $500 bursary to be put towards their post-secondary education or their child's Education Savings Plan. 

For more information about the LEAP program, speak to an Ontario Works case worker.  

Help to prepare for employment

You are required to participate in activities to be eligible for social assistance. 
Your case worker will help you find services and supports to meet your needs.   These are called person-centred supports and may include: 

  • Crisis and safety: 
    • Housing 
    • Food programs 
    • Personal safety 
  • Health
    • Mental health 
    • Substance use
    • General health
  • Life skills:
    • Education 
    • Language skills 
  • Community:
    • Child care  
    • Caregiving supports 
    • Justice and legal support 
    • Immigration and settlement services

When you are ready for support with employment, speak to your case worker about a referral to Employment Ontario.

Participation Benefits

Money when preparing for employment

You may receive money to help with costs related to your participation activities as you prepare for employment.  Speak to your case worker for more information and to see if you are eligible.  This may include:

  • School registration fees 
  • School supplies
  • Telephone and internet costs 

Health Benefits

Dental Health

For more information, see Dental Health

Eyeglasses and eye exams

For more information, see Eyeglasses and eye exams

Cost of medical supplies

For more information, see Cost of medical supplies

Prescription Drugs

For more information, see Prescription Drugs

Special dietary needs

Help with the cost of food required for specific medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.

See a chart of the Special Diet Allowance amounts  and which medical conditions qualify.

Pregnancy nutritional / breast-feeding allowance

If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, you may be able to receive money to assist with the costs of the nutritional needs.

See a chart of the Pregnancy and Breast-feeding Nutritional Allowance amounts  

Medical transportation

You may receive money for transportation costs to attend medical appointments.

This may be available if:

  • you have regular appointments with a doctor or other health professional, or you are attending a drug or alcohol recovery program,
  • your transportation costs are $15.00 per month or more, and
  • your transportation costs are not already being covered

Health benefits coverage when leaving Ontario Works

If you are leaving Ontario Works because you are starting work or getting other income, you may continue to receive help with health costs after you stop receiving monthly Ontario Works payments.

This can include:

  • coverage of medication costs under the Ontario Drug Benefit Program 
  • Dental services and help with eyeglasses for children (and, in some cases, for adults)

Other Benefits

Money for child care when starting work or training

You may receive a one-time payment in a 12-month period when you start a job or begin an employment assistance activity, such as training, if required by your provider. The maximum amount is $600 per child for unlicensed day care and no maximum for licensed day care. 

Coverage for guide dogs

You may receive money towards the care and feeding costs of a certified guide, hearing or service dog.  This benefit amount is $84/month, with a yearly review.

Money while waiting for the Canada Child Benefit (CCB)

Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is a tax-free monthly payment made by the government to eligible families to help with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age.  To get CCB, you need to file your income taxes. 

If you are a parent and are not yet receiving CCB payments or are receiving less than the maximum amount, you may temporarily receive the Transition Child Benefit (TCB).  The amount you may receive depends on how much CCB you are receiving.  You must try to get and/or continue to get CCB while receiving the Transition Child Benefit.

When CCB payments start, you may receive a lump sum payment that covers the months you waited. If you received TCB for the same period, your Ontario Works payment(s) may be reduced up to a maximum of three months or until you have repaid the duplicate amount.

Note: Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) migrants in receipt of EA are not eligible for the Transitional Child Benefit as their status in Canada is Visitor.


Changes in your life can affect your Ontario Works benefits.  For example, if you get a part-time job or your rent changes, so will the amount of your Ontario Works payment. Depending on when you report these changes to your case worker, you may receive benefits you are not eligible for.

When this happens, it is called an overpayment. That money must be repaid. Your payment each month will be reduced, until the overpayment amount is paid back in full. You can make a request to your case worker to lower the monthly repayment amount.

Even if you no longer receive Ontario Works, you must pay back the amount you were overpaid. 

Pay your Ontario Works or social housing overpayment

Internal reviews and appeals

Internal reviews

If you disagree with a decision about your Ontario Works benefits, you can:

  1. Speak with your case worker to resolve the issue.
  2. Request an Internal Review of the decision.

Your request for an internal review must be made in writing and sent to the Ontario Works office.  You must complete the Internal Review Form [ 75.4 KB ] or provide a letter that includes:

  • A statement that you would like the original decision reviewed
  • The reason you disagree with the decision
  • Your name, date of birth and Member ID
  • Your signature

Your written request must be submitted within 30 days from the date of the original decision. A review will take place within 30 days of receiving your request. You will receive a letter informing you of the internal review decision and what you should do if you continue to disagree.

Appeal to Social Benefits Tribunal

If you disagree with the results of the Internal Review or the office has not completed the Internal Review within 30 days of your request, you may be able to appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal directly. Your Internal Review Decision letter will tell you whether you can appeal the decision to the Social Benefits Tribunal. Not all decisions can be appealed. 

The Social Benefits Tribunal is an independent group separate from Employment & Social Services and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. The Tribunal holds hearings which are like court, but less formal.

If your Internal Review Decision letter states that you can appeal, then you can fill out and send an Appeal Form to the Social Benefits Tribunal. You must send in this form within 30 days of receiving your Internal Review Decision letter.

Appeal forms are available at your local Employment & Social Services office or from the Social Benefits Tribunal website. Send your completed Appeal form to the:

Social Benefits Tribunal
15 Grosvenor Street, Ground Floor
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2G6
Toll-free: 1-800-753-3895
TTY: Call the Bell Relay Service at 1-800-855-0511

After you send in your Appeal form, you will receive a letter from the Social Benefits Tribunal stating the date, time and location of your appeal hearing.

Interim assistance

Interim assistance is financial aid you may be eligible to receive while waiting for your hearing with the Social Benefits Tribunal. This can include pausing overpayment recovery. Contact the Social Benefits Tribunal to apply for interim assistance.

More resources

Report Ontario Works fraud

The Ontario Works program provides financial and employment assistance for people who don’t have enough money for food and housing and other basic needs. If you suspect someone of receiving assistance to which they are not entitled, you can file a report.