No. Ontario Works is the name under which Employment and Financial Support programs operate in the Province of Ontario. With some exceptions for special circumstances, participants must become active in employment-related activities to remain eligible for Employment and Financial Support.
Applying for Assistance / Assistance Amounts
What is the Ontario Works program?
Ontario Works is the program that has replaced "welfare" in Ontario. It is an employment program that helps Employment and Financial Support participants to find a job and become independent. It provides financial assistance to participants while they are gaining new skills or improving existing job skills; which will help them find paid employment. There are many ways to participate in Ontario Works: volunteering to gain experience, training to learn necessary skills, actively seeking a job. Employment and Financial Support participants and their Case Coordinator decide together on the path the participant will take to find paid employment.
How does a student apply for Employment and Financial Support?
Students are defined as people aged 16 and 17. They must have special circumstances and be in full-time attendance at school or in an approved training program to be eligible for Employment and Financial Support. All financial assistance for this client group is issued through a trustee. To apply for Employment and Financial Support, students in school should see their guidance counsellor. There is a special Case Coordinator for students who visit the school to assess eligibility with student applicants. Sixteen and 17-year-olds who are not in a school setting should call the Employment and Financial Support office in their area to apply. In the summer, students should contact the Employment and Financial Support office in their area directly.
If I am found eligible for Employment and Financial Support, how much financial assistance will I qualify for?
That depends on many things: the number of people in the family, the cost of accommodation, and the presence of special needs, child support payments, a part-time job, and more. The basic needs amount helps with the cost of food and shelter, and other necessities of life. All clients receive a drug card and may receive other items of basic financial assistance if they are eligible. The basic needs amounts shown here are amounts that clients, depending on their individual situation, may receive:
Family Composition Maximum Basic Needs Amount Single person $536 Client & spouse $929 Client, spouse & 1 child $1062* Client & 2 children $1119* Client, spouse & 3 children $1366*
*Approximate estimations only. Age of children and accommodation costs affects monthly entitlement amounts.
I am a single person and pay $400.00 per month for rent. I just received my first Ontario Works cheque and I am only getting $325.00 for shelter. Why don't I get more?
Your shelter amount is determined by your family size, not by what you actually pay for shelter. If it is not enough, you may need to look at housing alternatives. Your Case Coordinator may be able to help you find out about more affordable accommodations by providing you with referrals to housing registries, non-profit housing, subsidized housing, etc.
Employment and Ontario Works
Do I have to work in order to receive Ontario Works financial assistance?
That depends. The majority of Ontario Works clients are required to participate in employment assistance activities. The only people who are exempt from participating include people with disabilities, seniors over 65 years of age, and single parents with non-school-age children. Employment assistance activities can include working, training, going to school, or volunteering. Exempt participants may volunteer to participate.
How can I get experience if no one will hire me?
Community Participation may be the answer for you! Communities, non-profit groups, and public sector organizations can provide volunteer placements for up to 70 hours per month. This is an opportunity for you to get the support you need, to get experience and job skills, and to put a network in place to obtain a job on your own.
Call your Case Coordinator to see if Community Participation is right for you. York Region Employment Specialists work with you to match you with an existing placement. You can also find your own volunteer work and the hours you volunteer may be counted as Community Participation, as long as you and the organization you volunteer with agree to follow Ontario Works guidelines.
If you are currently volunteering in any capacity, tell your Case Coordinator immediately so that your volunteer work can be assessed to see if it should be counted as Community Participation. Your Case Coordinator will keep your Ontario Works participation confidential.
Employers tell me they are not willing to hire me as I don't have enough experience and it would be too expensive for them to train me. What should I do?
You can take part in the Employment Placement with Incentives program. This program will give you the opportunity to receive on-the-job training while being paid. York Region Employment Specialists will help match you to the most suitable position and provide follow-up support to ensure you are adjusting well. You are also eligible for assistance to cover costs such as work boots, uniforms, etc. Call your Case Coordinator to discuss this program.
I don't have a lot of education. Can you help me?
Yes. We have specialized workshops. You and your Case Coordinator will determine if your shortest route to employment requires some basic education. Examples of basic education may include Grade 12 equivalency/upgrading, Adult Basic Literacy/Numeracy, or English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. You may be issued funds to help cover the costs of textbooks, minor fees including tuition, transportation, etc.
- I was receiving Employment Insurance (EI) last year and I now need training to enhance my skills. Can you help me?
If you are a current EI claimant or started parental benefits within the last 60 months or your EI claim has ended within the last 36 months, you may be eligible for the Skills Development Employment Benefit. This program was established by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission to assist unemployed persons to obtain the skills they need for employment. It provides financial assistance to help pay for the costs of skills training programs as well as some other costs (e.g. child care, transportation, instructional materials).
Call your local Human Resources Skills Development Canada (HRDC) centre for more information:
• HRDC Web site: www.hrsdc.gc.ca
• Richmond Hill HRDC: 905-886-7662
• Newmarket HRDC: 905-953-4052
• Remote HRDC Job Banks in public libraries: Bradford 905-775-3328, Georgina 905-476-5762, Sutton 905-722-5702, Whitchurch Stouffville 905-640-2395
Payments and Direct Bank Deposits
When do I get my payment and how is it delivered to me?
The Employment and Financial Support Division's standard delivery method is to issue financial assistance to participants by direct bank deposit. Eligible applicants will be signed up for direct bank deposit at the eligibility interview. Once your information has been processed, all Employment and Financial Support payments will be deposited directly into your bank account for your convenience.
Direct bank deposit is a good way to receive Employment and Financial Support payments because:
• You will always receive payments on time
• Your payments will not be affected by mail deliveries/strikes
• You do not have to pick-up or go to a bank to cash a cheque
• Confidentiality is ensured
• You don't have to worry about cheques being lost or stolen.
Can I get my Employment and Financial Support payment deposited directly into my bank account?
Yes. In fact, this is the quickest and easiest way for you to receive your payments and it is York Region's standard method for issuing financial assistance. Your assistance will be deposited directly into your account. You will continue to receive your income statement, drug card, and statement of assistance in the mail. To arrange direct deposit:
• Provide your Case Coordinator with a voided personal payment with your current address and phone number on it, or a letter from the bank where the account is held.
• Complete a Direct Bank Deposit Authorization card. These cards are available from your Case Coordinator or at the reception of your local Employment and Financial Support office. In addition the cards can be mailed to your home.
Your account must be located within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and be registered in your name. If you have a joint account, be aware that other account holders will have access to your deposits.
If you currently have an overdraft on your account, we advise you to open an account at a different bank.
How do I find out if my payment has been issued?
You can call the toll free Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system at 1-800-808-2268 to find out personal case information and general information about Employment and Financial Support during and after regular business hours by entering your 9-digit ID number. If you are calling for the first time, you will also need your 4-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN). If you don't have your PIN or ID number, call between 8:00am and 5:00pm, Monday through Friday, and press zero for assistance from Help Desk staff.
- Why is the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) being deducted from my Employment and Financial Support payment?
If you have a dependant under the age of 18 who receives the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) portion of that benefit is considered by Ontario Works to be income (NCBS is based on your previous year's income tax return, and is a supplement for low-income families). Because Ontario Works has determined that you have received some income, an equal amount will be deducted from your Employment and Financial Support payment. This balances your income, ensuring you remain eligible to receive Employment and Financial Support.
If you are currently eligible for NCBS but not receiving it, apply for it as soon as possible.
Assistance for Special Reasons and Temporary Circumstances
I want to finish my high school education, but I don't have anyone to care for my child. What should I do?
You may be eligible for assistance with child care costs if finishing your high school education is part of your employment plan. Call your Case Coordinator and ask about extra funds to help you with child care.
- Can I receive additional financial assistance for medical reasons?
Yes. If you require additional financial assistance for any of the items listed on the Other Benefits page, contact your Case Coordinator to find out what you, your spouse/same sex partner, and/or your dependant children may be eligible for, and how to go about getting it.
My family is due for a dental check up. Can you help?
Yes, but there are different procedures for adults and children:
All dependant children under age 18 are eligible for dental treatment according to Provincial guidelines. Dependent children of Ontario Works participants who need dental treatment may visit their dentist of choice.
At the time of treatment, you must supply verification of eligibility for Ontario Works by producing both:
• Current month's drug card listing the dependant child. (If you have left your drug card with your pharmacist, you may provide the dentist with a photocopy.)
• Current month's Statement of Assistance or Statement of Direct Deposit
All adults and dependant children over age 18 who need basic dental care (e.g. cleaning), dentures, or denture repairs will be referred for treatment at one of York Region's dental clinics. Your Case Coordinator will make this referral on your behalf and a copy of this referral will then be mailed to you.
You are responsible for:
• Calling the clinic to set up an appointment
• Taking your current month's Statement of Assistance to all appointments
• Bringing an interpreter to each appointment if you do not speak English
Low income residents of York Region may also qualify for assistance with dental care. Please call your nearest Employment and Financial Support office to inquire.
I have a bad toothache. Can I get help to go to the dentist right away?
Yes. In emergencies, you may be issued a York Region Ontario Works Emergency Dental Card which can be taken to the dentist of your choice. Call your Case Coordinator to get this card. You must take it with you to your dental appointment. It is valid for only one day of treatment and must be used within seven days of the authorization date. The dentist will forward your dental claim to York Region for payment, up to a maximum of $275.00.
- I am currently in an abusive situation and need financial assistance when I leave. What do I do?
Call 1-888-256-1112 to locate an emergency shelter, and leave the abusive situation. Once you are at the shelter, call a number on the the contact us page, and a Employment and Financial Support Case Coordinator will visit you in the shelter.
Other General Information
Where can I go to find more information about Employment and Financial Support?
Browse our Web site – there is a lot of information about Employment and Financial Support and the Ontario Works program here. Also visit the Ministry of Community and Children's Services Web site or, if you are a current Employment and Financial Support participant you may call the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to find out personal case information and general information about Employment and Financial Support and Ontario Works.
Do the Employment and Financial Support offices offer services in languages other than English?
Yes, but any applicant needing an interpreter must ask ahead of time. Translation services can include an interpreter at an interview or as a messenger who can send and receive messages between the applicant and the Employment and Financial Support office. Some forms used by the offices are also translated. Alternatively, a relative or friend may help translate.
Do I have to return my Statement of Income even if there has been no change in my circumstances?
Yes. Your Statement of Income must be returned to receive your monthly payment, even if there has been no change in your circumstances or if you have no income to report. Both you and your spouse or same-sex partner (if applicable) must sign the statement and the reverse side must be completed. It is due back as soon as possible after the 16th of every month with your supporting documents (e.g. job search lists, pay stubs).
- Where can I find an emergency shelter?
There are three shelters in York Region. Please call the shelter to arrange access to a bed.
Porter Place Men's Shelter
Leeder Place Emergency Family Shelter
- How many emergency shelter beds are available?
Approximately 65 emergency shelter beds are provided monthly.
- Who operates emergency shelters?
The Community Services and Housing Department does not operate any emergency shelters. Shelters are operated by a non-profit agency. However, the Department does refer applicants to the appropriate location.
- Can I get financial support while I am in an emergency shelter?
The Community Services and Housing Department helps eligible shelter residents by providing financial support for their stay at the shelter. Employment and Financial Support workers regularly visit the shelters to take applications for Employment and Financial Support and to assess eligibility.
For general information about emergency shelters, call:
TTY: ( 905) 762-0401
- What is a transition home?
Transition homes provide temporary shelter for women (with or without children) who are at risk.
- Where can I find a transition home?
There are two transition homes in York Region. You may call their directly to arrange access to a bed.
Yellow Brick House Women's Shelter
(905) 727-1944 (crisis line)
Sandgate Women's Shelter
(905) 722-3220 (crisis line)
- How many transition home beds are available?
Approximately 50 beds are available.
- Who operates transition homes?
The Community Services and Housing Department does not operate transition homes. They are operated privately. However, the Department does refer applicants to the appropriate location.
Can I get financial support while I am in a transition home?
The Community Services and Housing Department helps eligible residents by providing a monthly allowance while they remain in the transition home. Employment and Financial Support workers regularly visit to take applications for Employment and Financial Support.
For general information about transition homes, call:
TTY: ( 905) 762-0401
Homemakers and Nurses Services
- What do homemakers and nurses do?
Homemakers may help with laundry, prepare meals and perform light housekeeping tasks. Nurses provide basic nursing services.
- Who is eligible for homemaking and nursing services?
These services are provided to financially eligible community members who are temporarily ill or who have a permanent illness or disability and are assessed to require the services of a homemaker or nurse.
- How do I arrange for a homemaking or nursing subsidy?
To access homemakers and nurses service subsidy call:
TTY: ( 905) 762-0401
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