Can OW make me pay back money in the future?

Beware of scams

People have been getting phone calls with a pre-recorded message telling them their Ontario Works account has been deleted.

This is a scam to trick you into sharing your personal information. If you get a call like that, hang up the phone. You can report these calls to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

Long delays for appeal hearings

If you're appealing a decision made by OW or ODSP in 2020, your appeal hearing may not happen for a long time. People report that they're getting hearing dates from the that are between 9 and 16 months in the future. We'll update this information as things change.

Yes. Ontario Works (OW) can ask you to pay back out of money that you get in the future.

And if you don't agree to do this, they can refuse to give you assistance or cut off your assistance.

When OW will ask you to agree to pay back money

OW will ask you to agree to pay back money that would affect:

  • whether you're eligible for financial assistance, or
  • the amount of assistance that you get.

For example, OW will ask you to agree to pay back assistance if:

  • You're waiting for benefits from another government program like the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, or workers' compensation.
  • You're waiting for money from an insurance company or a private pension plan.
  • A court has ordered someone to pay you and you're waiting for the money.
  • You're waiting for spousal support payments.

OW will also ask you to agree to pay back assistance if:

  • you're getting assistance from OW while you wait to find out if you qualify for from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), and
  • you're able to get assistance from OW only because they used ODSP’s asset rules, which are not as strict as OW's rules.

When OW will not ask you to agree to pay back money

But there are some types of and that OW does not count when deciding:

  • if you're eligible
  • how much assistance to give you

And you don't have to agree to pay this kind of money back.

For example, they don’t count child support payments owed to you for periods of time that begin on February 1, 2017, or after that date. So OW can't ask you to pay back assistance out of that money.

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