2. Learn what OW can do if you have an overpayment

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.

Ontario Works (OW) will want to collect the .

If you’re getting financial assistance

OW can reduce the amount of you get each month.

Usually, when you have an overpayment OW reduces your assistance each month until you've paid back what you owe. And if they think you could have prevented the overpayment, they reduce your assistance by 10%. This means that if you usually get $700 each month, OW would give you $70 less, which is $630.

But if you live in a First Nations community, OW usually reduces your assistance by 5%.

For OW to reduce your assistance by more than 10%, you have to agree. For example, if you usually get $700 each month, taking off 15% would mean you get $105 less or $595.

Some people agree to have their assistance reduced by more than 10% because they want to pay back the money as fast as they can.

If you’re no longer getting financial assistance

OW will ask you to pay back the money if the overpayment is because of financial assistance they gave you. They may ask you to agree to pay it back over time, for example, a certain amount each month.

They might ask a collection agency to try to get you to pay the money back.

OW may be able to use a court process to collect the overpayment. This could mean they'd be able to use something like garnishment to get money from you. But they don't usually do this.

If the overpayment happened when you were getting OW assistance from the City of Toronto, OW can ask the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to collect the overpayment. The CRA does this by taking it out of money that they owe you, for example, your income tax refund.

OW can decide not to do anything

OW can decide that they're not going to try to collect the overpayment. But this hardly ever happens.

Sometimes OW decides to wait and collect the overpayment later on.

Waiting to collect an overpayment

Here are some reasons why OW might wait to collect an overpayment:

  • You owe child or spousal support. And over 10% of your financial assistance is already being taken off and sent to the Family Responsibility Office to pay the support that you owe.
  • You didn’t agree with OW’s decision about the overpayment and are waiting for the OW office to do an or for the to decide about your appeal.
  • The police charged you with fraud because of the overpayment and you're waiting for the court to make a decision.
  • Making you pay back the money would be unfair or cause you hardship. For examples, see the section in Step 3 called Why you might not have to pay back an overpayment.

Getting more information and help

To find out what OW might do to try to collect an overpayment from you, you may want to get more information and advice.

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