Financial assistance

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Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)

If you have a disability and need help with your living expenses, you may be eligible for the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

ODSP offers:

  • Financial assistance to help you and your family with essential living expenses
  • Benefits, for you and your family, including prescription drugs and vision care
  • Help to find a job and advance your career

Apply for ODSP

To apply for ODSP, visit the provincial Ministry of Community and Social Services website or call the ODSP office at 613-787-3951.

It sometimes takes several months to find out if you can get ODSP. If you cannot wait for help, you can apply for immediate financial help through the Ontario Works program.

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.

Financial support – Ottawa Hand in Hand

If you are already a participant in a community or social service agency program, if you are an individual or family with a low-income or a family member with a disability, you may qualify for the Ottawa Hand in Hand recreation and culture fee support program.

Only residents of the City of Ottawa may apply for the Ottawa Hand in Hand subsidy, on their own behalf or for a dependent wishing to participate in programs or activities offered by the Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services Department (RCFS). For additional information on Ottawa Hand in Hand, the City of Ottawa’s fee assistance program, residents are invited to visit their local recreation or culture facility or any City Client Service Centre.

Please note: applicants will be asked to provide proof of identity, residency and of financial need and should be prepared to provide copies of formal documentation.

Applicants must meet one of the following eligibility requirements:

  • Evidence of being in receipt of Ontario Works
  • Evidence of being in receipt of a Child Care Subsidy
  • Evidence of being in receipt of Essential Health and Social Supports
  • Evidence of being in receipt of Ontario Disability Support Pension (ODSP)
  • Evidence of being in receipt of Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD/MCSS)
  • Evidence of being in receipt of a Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
  • Means test using the Low Income Cut-Off
    • T451E Notice of Assessment or,
    • Child Tax Benefit Form
  • Special circumstances may also be considered (details to be provided in the application form).
  • Residents of all ages are eligible.
  • Residents are encouraged to apply as early as possible before the program registration period.
  • Each qualifying individual, or member of a family, is eligible for an annual amount of fee support ($185 per person).
  • Applicants are encouraged to pay a minimum of 25 per cent of the program cost.
  • A parent or guardian can transfer all, or a portion of their Ottawa Hand in Hand fee support entitlement to a child or children in their household.

How to apply

  1. If you receive Ontario Works, ask your case worker to complete the application for you.
  2. Complete the application form or, pick one up at most staffed recreation facilities or at a Client Service Centre.
  3. Bring the completed application form to your local recreation or cultural facility.

A supervisor will review the application for approval. Applications can only be approved at a recreation or cultural facility.

Cost of medical supplies

Low-income individuals and social assistance recipients can get help with the cost of medical supplies. For information on how to apply for short-term help call 311.

Assistive Devices Program (ADP)

  • Helps any Ontario resident who has a valid Health Number and a physical disability that will continue for six months or longer
  • Pays for basic supportive devices – such as wheelchairs, hearing aids and medical supplies

Costs covered by ADP

  • Pays for 100 per cent of the approved cost, if you receive financial assistance from Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program
  • If you are not receiving financial assistance, ADP pays 75 per cent of the cost of items such as artificial limbs, orthopedic braces, wheelchairs and breathing aids
  • Contributes a fixed amount for adult hearing aids and breast prostheses
  • Finances the cost of needles and syringes for diabetic seniors as well as ostomy and incontinence supplies through an annual grant

NOTE: There are limits and restrictions in all device categories. For example, the repair and replacement of damaged or stolen items is not covered by ADP.

How to apply

Apply for basic support equipment such as wheelchairs, hearing aids and other equipment for independent living by:

  1. A physician, or a therapist recognized as an ADP authorizer must complete your application form.
  2. Social Services must approve your application before you can purchase equipment from the approved vendor.
  3. Get your doctor or therapist to follow up with Social Services.

Help if you can't pay the difference

Private insurance companies, service clubs and charitable organizations such as the March of Dimes, and Easter Seals may be able to help you cover additional costs. Social Services can help you when all other options are exhausted.

More information

  • If you are receiving ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program), call 613-596-2035.
  • If you are receiving financial assistance from Ontario Works, contact your Case Worker.
  • Low-income residents can apply for help by calling 3-1-1 between 8:30 am and 4 pm
    • Select 1 for service in English or 2 for service in French
    • Select 4 for Employment and Social Services

TTY Line 1-800-855-0511

Prescription drugs

There are two programs to help you pay for prescription drugs: the Ontario Drug Benefit program and the Trillium Drug Program.

Ontario Drug Benefit program

You qualify if you are:

  • Receiving financial assistance through Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
  • 65 years of age or older
  • A resident of a long-term care facility or a home for special care
  • Receiving professional services under the Home Care program
  • A Trillium Drug Program recipient

Trillium Drug program

You qualify if:

  • You are a low-income individual or family
  • Your insurance covers only a portion of your drug costs
  • Most, but not all, prescription drugs are covered. Your doctor can apply to the Ministry of Health to request that a drug be covered.
  • There is usually a minimal pharmacy fee of $2 for each prescription.
  • Some seniors and Trillium Drug Program recipients must pay a certain deductible for their own prescriptions. This amount varies according to your family size and income. If you can't afford the deductible, the City will look at your financial situation and needs to determine if you are eligible for extra help.
  • You must provide receipts for all paid prescriptions.

How to apply:

  • For the Ontario Drug Benefit program, your coverage is automatic if you are receiving financial or residential assistance.
  • Seniors contact their pharmacist.
  • For help paying the deductible for Ontario Drug Benefit or Trillium Drug Program, low-income residents can apply for help by calling 3-1-1 between 8:30 am and 4 pm:
    • ​​Select 1 for service in English or 2 for service in French
    • Select 4 for Employment and Social Services
    • Bell Relay TTY 1-800-855-0511

Dental health for older adults

The following dental care is available in the community free of charge for older adults:

  • Dental screening where a dental hygienist will look in your mouth using a tongue depressor. The hygienist can identify urgent dental needs and may help you find treatment
  • Fluoride varnish application
  • Dental health information
  • Denture cleaning at some locations

To find the closest location, date and time, use the monthly calendar and follow these steps:

  1. Use the "Advanced Search" tool
  2. Enter the keyword "dental" 
  3. Select "search"

Emergency dental care

Limited emergency dental care may be available for older adults. Call 3-1-1 to apply for Essential Health and Social Supports. If your application is approved, an Ottawa Public Health dental clinic will provide you with emergency care.


Limited denture benefits may be available for older adults. Call 3-1-1 to apply for Essential Health and Social Supports. If your application is approved, an Ottawa Public Health dental clinic will give you an appointment for a denture assessment.

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