Ontario Works


Ontario Works (OW) is a type of income assistance from government. Sometimes OW is called "welfare". If you receive a low income or no income and live in Ontario, you may qualify for OW.


  • You will likely qualify for OW benefits if you need money right away to help pay for food and housing costs and agree to take part in activities that will help you find a job.
  • The size of your family, your shelter costs, other income and special needs will affect the amount of allowance you may be granted.
  • You may be able to get OW health benefits for you and your family, like drug and dental.
  • You may be able to get OW to pay for your employment-related expenses, such as transportation, child care and clothing.
  • You may be able to get extra OW benefits, called the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit, to help you if:
    1. You need to move to a new home.
    2. You are facing eviction.
    3. You are leaving a shelter, hospital or other institution.
    4. Your heat, hydro, or water is being cut-off.
  • If you are employable, OW may require you to train or work in a participation program.

Denials, overpayments and dealing with Ontario Works

  • If you work while receiving OW benefits, your assistance will be affected.
  • You have a right to bring someone with you to meetings with staff at the OW office.
  • If you have or had a spouse, you must make reasonable efforts to get financial support from your current or previous spouse.
  • If you have a child or children, you must make reasonable efforts to get financial support from your child or children's other parent, even if he or she was never your spouse.
  • If the OW office asks you for information, you have a right to know why they want it and be given reasonable time to get it.
  • You have a right to written notice of a decision to refuse, reduce or cut-off your OW benefits, and this written notice must advise you of how to appeal the decision.

Internal Reviews and Appeals

  • If OW benefits are refused, reduced, or cut-off, you may request an internal review. After requesting an internal review, you may then appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal.
  • Most community legal clinics funded by Legal Aid Ontario will provide you with free legal advice about ODSP.
  • You should contact your local community legal clinic for advice as soon as you receive a decision letter.

Learn more

  1. Decide if your legal problem relates to the Ontario Works program.
  2. Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to learn more about Ontario Works (OW) benefits.
  3. Follow the Steps for instructions on applying for OW benefits, appealing a decision to deny, reduce or cancel your OW benefits, and and how to prepare for a Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) hearing.
  4. Review the Resources to find new and in-depth legal information about Ontario Works benefits.
  5. See the Links for news and other helpful websites.

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DisclaimerLast updated 07/30/2009