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How do I apply to Ontario Works?

Question
How do I apply to Ontario Works?

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Reviewed: 
September, 2016
Answer

To get started, you can contact your local Ontario Works (OW) office. Or, you may be able to use OW's online application.

After you start your application, the next thing you do is meet with an OW worker.

When you apply, you have to:

  • give personal and financial information about yourself, each member of your family, and anyone else who lives with you
  • give OW documents that relate to yourself and other people in your household
  • sign forms that the OW worker fills out with you

If OW does not want to take your application

The law says that OW must take your application. And they must do this even if they say that you will not qualify for financial assistance.

If you’re talking to an OW worker on the phone and they don’t want to give you an appointment to complete your application, ask to speak to a supervisor. Tell the supervisor that you want to complete your application.

If there’s still a problem, contact your community legal clinic right away.

Next steps

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Ontario Works (OW) needs detailed information about you and other people in your household to decide if you qualify for financial assistance.

It’s a good idea to collect all the information and have it ready when you apply. It speeds up the process if you have all the information and documents ready before you apply.

Information you need to give OW

You need to give the following information about yourself and anyone else in your household:

  • name and date of birth
  • immigration status
  • income
  • assets

You also have to give:

  • your address
  • your housing costs and what type of housing you live in, for example, whether you live in a place that you rent or own

Documents you need to show OW

You need to show OW documents that prove the information you give them is true.

Examples of documents you might use are:

  • identity documents like a birth certificate or passport to prove name and date of birth
  • the last income tax return or Notice of Assessment to show income
  • pay stubs to prove income from work
  • receipts from your landlord to prove how much rent you pay
  • bank statements to show things like how much you have in savings
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You may be able to start your Ontario Works (OW) application online.

Or, you can contact your local OW office.

Finding your local OW office

There are a number of ways to find the OW office nearest you.

You can use the provincial government's online Ontario Social Assistance Office Finder, where you enter your address or postal code.

You can contact ServiceOntario and give them your postal code.

Or, you can call 211 and give them your postal code.

If you start your application online

Make sure to have all of your information and documents ready before you start filling out the online application.

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If you call Ontario Works (OW) to apply, they will:

  • ask you some questions on the phone, and
  • give you an appointment time to come in to the OW office to complete your application.

If you apply online, the information you enter goes to your local OW office. Within 3 business days, a worker from that office is supposed to phone you to set up an appointment to complete the application.

If you apply online but don’t have a phone number, call your local OW office to make the appointment.

What happens at the appointment

At the appointment, an OW worker asks you questions and asks for information to show that you qualify for assistance.

Make sure to bring all the documents that you’ll need.

Changing the meeting place

The interview is usually at the local OW office.

If getting to the local OW office is hard for you, ask to have the interview at your home or somewhere that’s better for you.

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You can’t get assistance from Ontario Works (OW) unless you meet with them to complete your application.

If you talk to an OW worker on the phone and they don’t want to give you an appointment to complete your application, ask to speak to a supervisor. Tell the supervisor that you want to complete your application.

If there’s still a problem, contact your community legal clinic right away.

When to expect a decision

OW is supposed to decide about your application within 4 business days from when you first contact them. But for this to happen, you have to:

  • complete your application
  • give OW all the information they need to decide

Getting the OW decision

If OW says they do not want to give you financial assistance, it’s still important to complete your application.

So, you need to:

  • make an appointment to complete your application, and
  • go to the appointment and complete your application.

That way, you can get OW's decision. And, if OW refuses to give you assistance, you have a decision that you may be able to appeal.

Learn more about this topic
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)

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