F.A.Q.

Here are some common questions about Ontario Works.

Ontario Works Financial Assistance

The following information is for individuals in the district of Nipissing who are looking to learn more about the Ontario Works program. Ontario Works can provide you with financial assistance, employment assistance, employment assistance activities and benefits. This section focuses on financial assistance.

Who is eligible for Ontario Works?

To be eligible for Ontario Works, you must:

  • live in Ontario
  • need money right away to help pay for food and shelter, and
  • be willing to take part in activities that will help you find a job.
How is my eligibility assessed?

We look at two aspects when we assess your eligibility:

  • your financial situation, and
  • your willingness to take part in activities to find a job

When you apply to Ontario Works, you will need to give us information about your:

  • family size
  • income
  • assets, and
  • housing costs.

Ontario Works staff will use this information to decide if you are financially eligible.

Then we help you come up with a plan to find work and/or improve your skills. These activities are written up in your Participation Agreement.

You will have to sign an Application for Financial Assistance and a Participation Agreement to be eligible for Ontario Works.

Can I apply for Ontario Works if I am disabled?

Yes, you may.  When you attend your verification appointment you can request an application to the Ontario Disability Support Program.  You will be provided with a disability determination package that your health care professional must fill out, as well as a self-evaluation portion.  Your Case Manager will explain in more detail how the process works when you attend the office.

Do I still qualify for benefits if I don’t have a stable place to live?

Financial assistance is provided for basic needs and shelter.  You can still quality for basic needs if you do not currently have shelter costs.  Once you obtain accommodations you can submit an intent to rent form to your case manager for review and approval of shelter costs.

What documents do I need when applying for Ontario Works?

A complete list of documents you will need to successfully complete an Ontario Works application can be found here.

What is a Participation Agreement?

When you apply for Ontario Works, you will be asked to develop a Participation Agreement (PA) with your Case Manager. The PA is viewed as your agreement or contract with Ontario Works and it clearly states what is expected of you as a participant.

The goal of the Participation Agreement is to help you create a plan to move towards sustainable employment, unless you are unable, which will be discussed with your Case Manager.

What is expected of me once my Participation Agreement has been created?

When you negotiate a Participation Agreement with your Case Manager, you are expected to:

  • Follow through with the activities
  • Attend scheduled appointments
  • Notify us in advance if you cannot attend
What happens if I do not follow the Participation Agreement?

​​If you do not do the things that you have agreed to, your Ontario Works benefits can be suspended after a Test of Reasonableness has been completed.

The first time you are found to be non-compliant, your benefits are suspended for one month. If you are found to be non-compliant any time after that, your benefits are suspended for three months.

What happens if my personal circumstances limit what I can participate in?

If you have medical issues that limit what you can do, your Case Manager will provide you with a Supplementary Medical Information form, which your physician will complete.  Once complete and returned, any activities negotiated on your participation agreement will take into consideration your medical restrictions or limitations.

What happens if I am unable to participate?

At the time of your application you can advise the case manager that you are unable to participate / work.  You will be provided with a medical deferral form that your physician will need to complete in order to have you deferred from participating.

What is a deferral?

A deferral means that you do not have to participate in activities such as, independent job searching or education.

If I am eligible, what assistance can I receive?

The Financial Assistance through the Ontario Works program is calculated based on individual circumstance, and taking into account family size, living arrangements, and income sources and asset levels.

The assistance is intended to cover basic living expenses, such as food, clothing, shelter and personal needs items. In addition, examples of other benefits which may also be available to eligible recipients in certain circumstances, include:

  • Participation supports for employment and educational activities*
  • Health necessities, such as diabetic, surgical and medical supplies
  • Emergency assistance
  • Basic dental and vision care
  • Prescriptions
  • Employment start-up benefits to assist with costs incurred when starting a new job*

*For more details, see “What employment and education supports could I be eligible for?” in the Ontario Works – Employment Services section.

What if I need assistance with childcare?

Childcare costs are taken into consideration in determining your net earnings from employment.

You have the option of choosing licensed (potential subsidy) and unlicensed childcare. Childcare subsidy is based on your Notice of Assessment (NOA) from the previous year.

For more information on childcare subsidy, visit our Children’s Services page.

How do I apply for Ontario Works?

Please visit our How To Apply page for more details. You may also find the following website from the Ministry of Community and Social Services helpful: Ontario Works: How to apply.

Can I set up Direct Bank Deposit instead of receiving a cheque?

Yes, in fact we recommend it. Setting up a Direct Bank Deposit is easy and ensures your money arrives on time. Visit our Direct Bank Deposit Information and Forms resource for details on getting started.

 

Can I get some help setting up Direct Bank Deposit?

Absolutely.

  1. Make sure you get the form here.
  2. If you would like to confirm you are reading the correct numbers from your cheque, check out this guide.
  3. For further help, if you have a cell phone you can take a photo of your cheque, email it to purchasing@dnssab.on.ca and request assistance to set up a Direct Bank Deposit on your account.
  4. As always, you can reach out to us for further assistance.
What is a statement of income?

A statement of income is a form that you must submit every month between the 16th and the 18th in order to qualify for your monthly entitlement.  This form has information pertaining to any income you (or your spouse) may have received in the reporting period that the case manager uses to determine your monthly entitlement.

If you do not submit this form, there is a possibility that your monthly benefit may be delayed.  If you have been on assistance for longer than 3 months, and you are not currently employed, you may be deferred from having to hand this form in.  Please speak with your Case Manager.

What happens if my circumstances change? (I get a job, I move, I get married, etc.)

You need to contact your Case Manager as soon as possible.  Any change in circumstances can have an effect on your monthly entitlement.

If I work, will I qualify for benefits?

There is a possibility that you may still qualify for financial assistance while you are employed.   If you no longer qualify for financial assistance due to your earnings or other income, you may qualify for Extended Health Benefits or Extended Employment Health Benefits.  Talk to your Case Manager to learn more.

What do I do if I get a suspension letter in the mail?

Call your Case Manager as soon as possible to find out why your file has been suspended.  They will be able to advise you of what is required to lift the suspend.  A suspend letter does not mean that your benefits have been terminated, it just means that information is required.

Who do I talk to if I don’t agree with a decision my worker made?

We recommend that you speak to your Case Manager first.

The appeal process is located on the letter sent to you explaining the denial.  You can file a request for an internal review in writing within 10 days of the denial.  A decision regarding your request for an internal review will be made within 30 days.  Internal reviews can be upheld, overturned or varied.

If you don’t agree with the decision made at internal review, you may be able to appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT).  It is important to note that not all benefits can be appealed to SBT.

Can I still get benefits after I leave Ontario Works?

You may have three options for Health Benefits once you have left the Ontario Works program, if you do not have health coverage from an employer or other source:

  • Extended Health Benefits – (Up to 6 months with possibility​ of extension)
  • Extended Employment Health Benefits – (Up to 6 months with possibility of extension)
  • Trillium Drug Program – (You choose how long to participate)
Who do I contact if I suspect fraud?

If you think someone is taking advantage of a social assistance program, you can report a suspected case of fraud. Please visit this resource to learn how.

Ontario Works Employment Services

The goal of Ontario Works (OW) is to assist people to become self-sufficient by providing the necessary tools and support to move to sustainable employment. Here are some common questions about the program, with a focus on Employment Services.

What types of employment programs do you offer?

People receiving Ontario Works may be eligible to participate in various employment enhancing activities such as Employment Placement, Community Placement and the Self Employment initiatives, literacy upgrading and other job search-related activities.

Employment Placement

An Employment Placement is a paid job placement with a local employer. This provides the participant with gainful employment and extra support and coaching that will eventually lead to self-sufficiency.

Community Placement

A Community Placement is a volunteer activity aimed at providing workplace experience and links to job opportunities.

Self-Employment Program

The Self-Employment program is structured and designed to help a citizen succeed as an entrepreneur. A person is required to prove the business is viable and must create a business plan. The Self-Employment program is time limited and has milestones.

Teen an young adult parents between the ages of 16 and 25 may also participate in the Learning, Earning and Parenting (LEAP) program.

What supports do you have for teen and young adult parents?

Teen and young adult parents between the ages of 16 and 25 may also participate in the Learning, Earning and Parenting (LEAP) component of the Ontario Works program.

What employment and education supports could I be eligible for?

You may qualify for assistance to cover expenses related to participation and employment.

Participation and Employment Examples:

  • beginning or changing employment
  • attending a workshop
  • completing upgrading to obtain your Grade 12 diploma
  • beginning or changing a training program

Examples of expenses that could be covered include:

  • transportation
  • clothing & grooming
  • special equipment
  • Criminal Reference Checks

You may need to complete a Request for Benefits form and/or a Self Declaration Regarding Employment form​​:

 

What is a Full-Time Employment Benefit?

When you find full-time employment (30+hrs/wk) AND you’ve been on assistance 3+ consecutive months, we can assist with employment costs through a full-time employment benefit.

  • You will need to submit a Request for Benefits form (below).
  • You will also need to complete a Self Declaration Regarding Employment form (below) or submit your Letter of Hire.

 

 

General

Here are other FAQs about the Ontario Works program in general.

What is the IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and how can it help?

The Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) is a phone line you can call any time to get information like when a cheque was sent out, its amount, and other important information about your case.

You can call the IVR toll free at: 800.808.2268

You will need your nine (9) digit Member ID and four (4) digit PIN to access the system.

Where can I find the Ontario Works Service Plan?

The Ontario Works service plan can be found on our Corporate page under Guiding Documents.

Where can I learn more about the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS)?

You can learn more about the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) on their website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Please note: the information on this website is intended to be used as a guide and is subject to change. It does not reflect all policies and procedures of the Ontario Works Department.

Still need help? Send us a message!