Human Services

Ontario Works Assistance

Ontario Works provides money for food, shelter and other costs to people in financial need who meet the eligibility criteria. Toronto delivers this provincial social assistance program according to the Ontario Works Act.

Financial Assistance may include money for food, shelter, clothing and other household costs, the cost of prescription medications, and other help with health costs.

Employment Assistance may include options to help people find jobs or become more job-ready, money for training and other employment related expenses, and employment programs that offer career exploration, skill training and more.

Les services sociaux et d'emploi de Toronto (Toronto Employment & Social Services) offrent des services en français.

To qualify for Ontario Works assistance in Toronto, you must be:

  • living in Toronto and have status in Canada
  • aged 18 or over (16/17 if special circumstances exist, such as abuse or if there is no home/financial support available)
  • in financial need (your household doesn't have enough money to meet basic living expenses
  • willing to make reasonable efforts to find, get ready for or keep a job (unless you have medical or special circumstances that stop you from being able to do so).

If you live in Toronto, your eligibility for Ontario Works assistance will be assessed during either a telephone application or an online application. If it appears that you qualify, you will need to attend an in-person interview.

The office you will receive assistance from is determined by your postal code. You can use the Office Finder to learn which office serves your postal code.

If you are homeless, you may apply by calling 416-397-0330 or you can walk in to any Employment and Social Services office to apply.

If you do not speak English or French you will need an interpreter when you call to apply. For help finding an interpreter, visit 211Toronto.

Apply online

You can apply for Ontario Works online at any time.

After you have completed answering all the questions and you have submitted your application online, you will need to attend an in-person interview where you will meet your caseworker to sign the application forms and learn more about the Ontario Works program.

Usually this in-person appointment takes place at your local Employment and Social Services office (generally closest to where you live in Toronto). If you are not able to physically come to the office other arrangements can be made. You may want to take a look at what information will be required before you apply.

Apply online icon

 Apply now

Telephone application

Application Centre phone number:  416-397-0330

TTY line for persons who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing: 416-392-2823

Toll free number: 1-888-465-4478

The Application Centre is open on Mondays and Tuesdays 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays  8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is closed on weekends and public holidays. The wait time is generally shorter between 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 - 4:30 or 6 p.m.

When you call our Application Centre in Toronto, a caseworker will take your information over the phone. In order to determine your eligibility, the caseworker will ask you to provide personal and financial information about yourself and each family member included in your application. This phone call takes about 30 - 45 minutes.

If you appear to qualify for benefits, the caseworker at the Application Centre will schedule an in-person interview for you at an Employment and Social Services office. The caseworker will tell you what information to bring and where the office is.

NOTE: If you are not able to physically come to the Employment and Social Services office, tell the caseworker. The caseworker may be able to make other appointment arrangements for you.

In-person interview

A caseworker from an Employment and Social Services office finalizes your application during an in-person interview. This interview usually takes place at your community-based Employment and Social Services office. If you have a spouse or dependant 18 years or older living with you, they also need to attend the interview. The information you provided during the telephone interview or online application will be reviewed and verified.

This caseworker will tell you about your Rights and Responsibilities

You (and your spouse and dependent over 18 if applicable) will be asked to sign the application form and other required forms based on your situation.

If you are homeless, you may apply by calling 416-397-0330 or you can walk in to any Employment and Social Services office to apply.

Reapplying for assistance

If you were receiving Ontario Works benefits in Toronto and your file was closed within the past month, call your former caseworker to reapply. Your caseworker will ask you to provide information about your situation and to provide documents to support your need for benefits.

Examples of Information Required for an Application

When you apply, be sure to have the following types of information ready:

Examples

Identification (ID)

  • Birth Certificate
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Ontario Health Card
  • Immigration document (such as Record of Landing or Permanent Residence Card)

Income

  • pay stubs
  • copies of pay cheques
  • Employment Insurance stubs
  • details about support payments or other income

Assets

  • updated bank books
  • RRSP documents
  • life insurance documents
  • vehicle ownership papers
  • property ownership information

Accommodation

  • lease
  • rent receipt
  • landlord information
  • mortgage papers
  • home/content insurance premiums
  • utilities and heating costs
  • condominium maintenance fees

Within four business days of providing all needed documents you will be told whether or not you qualify for assistance, and for how much.  You will be assigned a caseworker who will be your primary contact while you receive assistance.

Read about Rights and Responsibilities as a person who receives Ontario Works Assistance.

The amount of assistance someone can receive from Ontario Works depends on family size, housing costs and income. The Ontario Works Act and Regulations set the social assistance rates.

The tables below show the maximum monthly amounts for basic needs, shelter and board and lodging. 

  • basic needs – items such as food, clothing and personal needs
  • shelter – housing costs such as rent, mortgage payments, utilities like gas and hydro, etc
  • board and lodging – if your rent money also includes your meals

You can also view the Ontario Works rate chart, and see additional Ontario Works benefits farther down on this page.

Basic Needs

The maximum monthly basic needs amounts are based on family size. This amount is issued whether or not you have an address.

Basic needs amounts

                                                                     

Number of children / dependent   adults*

Amount

Single Person

No children

$330

1 child 17 years or under

$347

1 dependent adult 18 or older

$599

2 children 17 years or under

$347

1 child 17 years or under, and 1 dependent adult 18 or older

$599

2 dependent adults 18 or older

$750

Couple

No children

$476

1 child 17 years or under

$476

1 dependent adult 18 or older

$627

2 children 17 years or under

$476

1 child 17 years or under, and 1 dependent adult 18 or older

$627

2 dependent adults 18 or older

$794

For each additional child / dependent adult:

  • add $0 if the child is 17 years or under
  • add $168 if the dependent adult is 18 or older

*Dependent adults are children 18 and older.

PLEASE NOTE:

Low-income families with children under 18 years of age must ensure that they have filed their income taxes to be assessed for the monthly Ontario Child Benefit

If you are receiving Ontario Works while waiting for the Ontario Child Benefit, you may be temporarily eligible for the Transition Child Benefit from Ontario Works.

Shelter allowance

Shelter allowance is based on:

  • your family size, and
  • your housing costs, up to the legislated maximum in the table below.

 

Housing costs can include:

  • rent
  • mortgage payments (principal and interest)
  • taxes
  • premiums for house and content insurance
  • maintenance fees for a condominium or co-operative housing unit
  • utilities (hydro)
  • heating costs

 

Examples:

  • A single person paying $300 in rent will receive a $300 Shelter allowance.
  • A couple with one child paying $680 in rent will receive $672, the maximum Shelter allowance for a family of three.

The monthly maximum shelter allowance amounts are:

 

Family size

Monthly Maximum
  Shelter Allowance

1

$376

2

$619

3

$672

4

$729

5

$786

6 or more

$814

Board and Lodging

Some people get the Board and lodging allowance instead of the Basic needs and Shelter allowances based on their living situation. You will receive the Board and lodging allowance if your rent money also includes your meals. This is also known as paying for room and board.

The amount you receive is based on your board and lodging cost, up to the maximum rate given in the table below. In addition to this amount, you will also receive a Special allowance of $67.

Examples:

  • A single person paying $514 for room and board will receive a $514 Board and lodging      allowance, plus the $67 Special allowance, for a total of $581.
  • A couple with one child 17 or under, paying $725 for room and board will receive the $724 Board and lodging allowance, plus the $67 Special allowance for a total of $791.

Board and Lodging Amounts

 

Number of children / dependent adults*

Maximum
  Amount

Special Allowance

Total

Single Person

0

$514

$67

$581

1 child 17 years or under

$633

$700

1 dependent adult 18 or over

$724

$791

2 children 17 or under

$703

$770

1 child 17 years or under, and 1 dependent adult 18 or over

$794

$861

2 dependent adults 18 or over

$840

$907

3 children 17 years or under

$768

$835

2 children 17 years or under, and 1 dependent adult 18 or over

$859

$926

2 dependent adults 18 or over, and 1 child 17 years or under

$905

$972

3 dependent adults 18 or over

$942

$1009

 

Number of children / dependent adults*

Maximum
  Amount

Special Allowance

Total

Couple

0

$663

$67

$730

1 child 17 years or under

$724

$791

1 dependent adult 18 or over

$761

$828

2 children 17 or under

$782

$849

1 child 17 years or under, and 1 dependent adult 18 or over

$819

$886

2 dependent adults 18 or over

$854

$921

3 children 17 years or under

$840

$907

2 children 17 years or under, and 1 dependent adult 18 or over

$877

$944

2 dependent adults 18 or over, and 1 child 17 years or under

$912

$979

3 dependent adults 18 or over

$947

$1014

For each   additional child / dependent adult of a sole support parent:

      
  • add $65 to the        maximum amount if the child is 17 years or under
  •   
  • add $115 to the        maximum amount if the dependent adult is 18 or over

For each   additional child / dependent adult of a two parent family:

      
  • add $58 to the        maximum amount if the child is 17 years or under
  •   
  • add $96 to the        maximum amount if the dependent adult is 18 or over

*Dependent adults are children 18 and older.

 

 

Additional Ontario Works Benefits

Find some general information below.

Applying to Ontario Disability Support Program from Ontario Works

Ontario Disability Support Program

The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) provides income and employment support to people with disabilities.

To qualify for ODSP, you must:

  • be 18 years or older
  • live in Ontario
  • be financially eligible
  • have a substantial physical or mental health problem, expected to last one year or longer, that substantially limits your ability to work, look after yourself or carry out daily activities.

How to apply for ODSP while receiving Ontario Works

If you are receiving Ontario Works (OW) and believe you may be a person with a disability, you have the right to apply to ODSP from OW. Ask your OW caseworker for the ODSP application, called “Disability Determination Package (DDP).”

ODSP in the past

If you received ODSP in the past, you may be able to return to ODSP without starting a new application. Please speak to your OW caseworker or contact your local ODSP office about rapid reinstatement.

The ODSP application forms

The DDP includes:

  • four forms: two to be filled out by your health care provider(s) and two to be filled out by you
  • instructions on how to fill out the forms
  • a list of the type of health care providers who can fill out the two medical forms.

The Health Status Report and the Activities of Daily Living forms should be completed by your health care providers who know your health situation best. You do not have to pay the health care provider(s) to fill out the forms. Health care providers are paid by the provincial government to complete these forms. Letters of support from additional health care providers can also be included with your application.

You fill out the Consent and Self Report forms. The Consent form lets the Disability Adjudication Unit (DAU) get information for your application. The DAU is the office that reviews and makes decisions on all ODSP medical applications. The Self Report is your chance to explain, in your own words, how your health impacts your ability to work, look after yourself or carry out daily activities at home and in the community. A family member, friend, trustee or someone from a community group who knows about your health problem(s) can help you fill it out. Please talk to your OW caseworker if you need help with the Self Report. If you decide you do not want to fill out the Self Report, you still have to sign and return it. Your application cannot be processed without it.

Returning the Disability Determination Package (DDP)

Once you receive the medical application, you have 90 days to complete it and return it to the DAU. If you cannot get all the medical information you need within 90 days, you can ask for more time to return the application. Once the medical application has been completed, mail it to the DAU in the envelope provided.

Before you mail in your package:

  • review the forms and make sure that your name and address are on all the forms
  • keep a copy for your records
  • make sure that there is enough postage on the envelope.

More medical information

If you get more medical information after you mail in the DDP — for example, test results or medical reports, or there is a change in your health — mail this information to the DAU. You can do this at any time during the application process.

No medical needed

You do not have to fill out the ODSP medical application form if you are:

  • receiving the Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPP-D), or
  • 65 years of age and over and do not qualify for Old Age Security (OAS).

Your application would only require confirmation of financial eligibility. Please speak to your OW caseworker about making a referral to ODSP.

The Disability Adjudication Unit (DAU) decision

Make sure that your application has all the information on your health problem(s) as the DAU decision is based on the medical information on the application.
The DAU will mail you their decision. If the DAU says yes to your application, your OW caseworker will send your file to the local ODSP office. The local ODSP office will then grant ODSP benefits based on the financial information from OW.

If the DAU says no to your application and you don’t agree with this decision, you have the right to ask the DAU, in writing, for an Internal Review (IR), within 30 days of receiving the decision.

Requesting an appeal hearing

If the answer to the Internal Review is also no, or you do not get an answer within 10 days of your request, you have the right to ask for an appeal hearing with the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT). The SBT is an independent body that hears appeals of OW and ODSP decisions.

Your request must be in writing and within 30 days of the date of the decision. A hearing to discuss your medical situation will be scheduled. You have the right to bring a legal representative to your hearing. A representative from a community legal clinic may be able to assist you. Ask your OW caseworker for a community legal clinic in your area.

You can give more medical information to the DAU up to 30 days from your hearing date with the Social Benefits Tribunal.

Family Support information

Services through Family Support help Toronto parents on Ontario Works Assistance access support and find services that improve family finances and quality of life. Read more.

Interactive Voice Response System

Interactive Voice Response is a telephone line run by the Ministry of Community and Social Services. You can call this line to get information about your social assistance payments.

Call 1-800-808-2268 (toll-free)
Monday to Friday: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Weekends: noon to 5 p.m.

Through Interactive Voice Response, you will have secure access to:

  • your payment details (within the past 45 days)
  • the status of your case
  • general information about Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program, and
  • overpayment balances (if this applies to you)

To get this information you will need:

  • your 9-digit member identification number, which you can find listed on your monthly statement of assistance, and
  • your 4-digit personal identification number, which you will receive when you start receiving social assistance.

Please do not share these numbers with anyone.

If you have difficulties using the Interactive Voice Response system, or for detailed information about your social assistance please contact your caseworker.

Receiving funds through Direct bank deposit

Through Direct Bank Deposit, monthly Ontario Works payments are sent to your personal bank account. A statement of assistance, with details of your payment, will arrive in the mail along with your drug benefit card.

Benefits of using Direct Bank Deposit include:

  • Faster service
  • Greater privacy about receiving your payments
  • No waiting for cheques to arrive in the mail
  • No need to replace lost or stolen cheques
  • Easier access to your funds

To sign up for this service, fill out a Direct Bank Deposit authorization form. This form is printed on the back of your monthly Statement of Income/ Changes Report form.

When filling out the form, you need to:

  • give detailed information on your bank, trust company or credit union
  • give your bank account number
  • attach a copy of your updated bank book, or a blank cheque with the word ‘VOID’ written on it
  • sign and date the form, and
  • return the completed form to your caseworker.

If you need help filling out the form, ask your caseworker or speak to a bank representative.

Opening a bank account

If you don’t already have a bank account, you can open one at any bank, trust company or credit union in Toronto. You will be asked to show one or more pieces of identification. If you don’t have proper identification your caseworker can refer you to the correct government offices for the documents you need.

Banks, trust companies and credit unions usually charge a monthly fee for their services. These fees will be different depending on where you do your banking. Before you decide where to open your account, be sure to ask questions and compare the service charges.

Let your caseworker know immediately if there are changes to your banking information such as:

  • A new bank account number
  • Moving your account to another branch
  • Choosing to bank at a different place

If you make any of these changes, you will need to fill out and sign a new Direct Bank Deposit authorization form. If you don’t let your caseworker know right away, your next Ontario Works payment could be delayed.

Receiving funds through reloadable RBC Right Pay™ Card

The RBC Right Pay™ card is a payment card for Ontario Works (OW) clients living in Toronto who cannot access their monthly funds through direct bank deposit. The payment card is a payment method that may help you avoid paying expensive fees to cash OW cheques. Once issued to you, your OW payments are loaded onto your payment card. When you make purchases or withdraw cash at automated teller machines (ATMs), money is deducted from the card until the balance reaches $0.

Benefits of using the payment card:

  • funds on your card can be used right away, no need to cash a cheque or pay for cheque cashing fees
  • you don't need to carry large amounts of cash with you
  • your card can be replaced if it is lost or stolen
  • you create the personal identification number (PIN) for private and secure access to your funds
  • your card can be used anywhere Visa cards are accepted so you can make purchases online, by phone or at retail locations, or withdraw cash at ATMs
  • use your card to pay monthly bills such as your cell phone, utilities and internet

How the card works

  • create a private PIN
  • withdraw cash through ATMs up to a daily limit determined by Royal Bank
  • use your card anywhere Visa cards are accepted or to pay monthly bills online
  • visit rbcrightpay.com, call 1-855-232-0675 or TTY toll-free 1-800-833-1213 to find out your card balance or transaction history - always know your balance as transactions will be declined if your balance does not cover a purchase or withdrawal amount
  • sign up to get automatic email/text alerts when funds have been added to your card, or set up a reminder to let you know when your balance is getting low

Getting this card

Speak to your caseworker about getting this card. Your caseworker will also give you more information about this payment method or answer any questions you may have.

Important information about the reloadable RBC Right Pay™ card

  • The funds on the card are not insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • The card is issued by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and can only be loaded with Ontario Works payments from Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS) and only RBC may remove funds from the card if instructed to do so by the City.
  • The RBC Right Pay™ card includes four no fee ATM withdrawals per month from RBC ATMs. To find your closest RBC ATM, use the RBC ATM and Branch Locator on rbcrightpay.com, call 1-855-232-0675 or TTY toll-free 1-800-833-1213.
  • The fee for additional RBC ATM cash withdrawals or any cash withdrawal from non-RBC ATMs is $2.00 each.
  • The card cannot be used for ‘cashback’ transactions. 'Cashback' is when a retailer charges an amount greater than the price of the goods/services purchased on the card and returns the difference to you in cash.
  • The funds on the card will not expire however the card plastic will expire at the end of the month shown on the card. Approximately 60 days before the card expires, a new card will be sent to you by RBC unless there has been no activity on the card within the previous 12 months and the balance is zero. The funds on the expired card will automatically be transferred to the new card.
  • If the amount of a purchase is greater than the balance on the card you must advise the retailer in advance, along with the available balance on the card and the form of payment you will use to cover the difference.
  • If you have questions about this card, cardholder support is available online at rbcrightpay.com or call toll-free 1-855-232-0675 or TTY toll-free 1-800-833-1213.
  • If the card is lost, stolen, or misused you must contact RBC immediately at 1-855-232-0675 or TTY toll-free 1-800-833-1213.
  • Detailed information about your payment card including the fees, limits, the cardholder agreement and frequently asked questions are included with your RBC Right Pay™ card package. Please review and keep those documents.

Please note the following fee changes that will apply as of July 1, 2017.

  • The fee for additional RBC ATM withdrawals above the four no fee withdrawals per month, or any withdrawals from non-RBC ATMs will increase from $1.50 to $2.00 each.
  • The fee for additional RBC ATM balance inquiries above the two no fee card balance requests per month, will increase from $0.00 to $0.50 each.

RBC Royal Bank ATMs

RBC ATMs are specific bank machines located across the city where you can withdraw cash up to four times per month with no fees. To find your closest RBC ATM, use the RBC Royal Bank ATM and Branch Locator which can be found on rbcrightpay.com or visit any RBC bank branch. You can also call toll-free 1-855-232-0675 or TTY toll-free 1-800-833-1213 for more information and assistance.

Where to get help

If you have questions about your payment card, you can:

  • visit rbcrightpay.com
  • call RBC Right Pay Cardholder Support at 1-855-232-0675 or TTY toll-free at 1-800-833-1213 for card related questions
  • speak to your caseworker

Cardholder support is available in English and French. Customer care representatives are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Payment Card Privacy Statement 

This Privacy Policy applies to current and former cardholders, in their relationships with Visa relating to the payment card. To read the Privacy Policy please click here.

Payment Card Cardholder Agreement

The Cardholder Agreement is between the cardholder and RBC Royal Bank. To read the Cardholder Agreement please visit rbcrightpay.com. You will have to sign in or create an account with your payment card information to read your specific program's Card Agreement.


T5007 (tax slip issued to people who have received social assistance)

The T5007 statement of benefits, or “T5” for short, is a tax slip that the Ministry of Community and Social Services issues to people who have received social assistance. You will receive a T5 in the mail by the end of February if you received social assistance during the previous year.

If you have not received or have lost your Ontario Works T5 slip, call Toronto Employment and Social Services for a replacement at 416-397-0290 on Mondays and Tuesdays between 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. or on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You will need to have your Social Insurance Number available when you call.

Please note that, for T5 replacements, Toronto Employment and Social Services:

  • does not issue duplicate slips for amounts less than $500.00
  • issues slips in the applicant’s name only
  • includes benefits paid such as Special Diet but does not include all benefits
  • cannot issue a replacement T5 to you if you are currently receiving assistance in another municipality or from Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
  • cannot change the amount shown on the original copy of the T5 as it is issued by the Ministry of Community and Social Services


If you need help with your tax return, click here for a list of free tax clinics in Toronto.

Complaints

Toronto Employment & Social Services has a complaint procedure in place to address concerns about service and staff conduct, as well as to handle complaints from people dissatisfied with the management of their Ontario Works file.

If you have a complaint, you should first speak directly with management staff at your office, either in person or by telephone. Most complaints received this way are quickly resolved.

Complaints can be made in person or by phone, or in writing, by mail or fax.

Complaints are reviewed promptly and every effort is made to resolve them as quickly as possible. We monitor complaints and use them to assess and improve quality of service.

Please be sure to provide the following information when making a complaint:

  • your name and Member ID
  • your address and telephone number
  • details of your complaint, including the time and place
  • name(s) of staff involved and their office location

When you call or come to your office to make a complaint, you can ask to speak to your caseworker and/or a supervisor, who will address your situation. Your office will attempt to resolve your complain within 24 hours unless there are extenuating circumstances.

When a written complaint is received by your office, the complaint will be reviewed by the Client Services & Information Unit (CSIU) management staff. Your complaint will be responded to in writing within five business days.

If you are not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled, you can contact staff at the for further assistance.

When you call or come in to make a complaint, you will speak to a CSIU representative, who will ask you questions about your situation. A report will be made of the complaint, which will be reviewed by the supervisor of the unit.

All complaints received are formally recorded and reviewed by Client Services & Information Unit management staff. The information you provide will be used to investigate the complaint. You may be contacted by phone for more information.

When a written complaint is received, the complaint will also be reviewed by management staff. CSIU staff may contact you to get more information if needed. Your complaint will be responded to in writing within five business days.

All complaints received are assigned a tracking number for reference purposes.

What can I expect during the Complaints Process?

  • Each complaint is considered on its own merits
  • You will be kept informed about what is happening and why it is happening
  • You will be contacted when your complaint is escalated
  • You will be informed when a decision is made and provided with an explanation for the decision
  • Complaints involving staff conduct will be investigated and you will be informed when it is resolved, however no disciplinary information can be shared
  • All written complaints will be responded to in writing, within five business days
  • While there are certain steps that need to be taken to ensure fairness for all concerned, there can be unavoidable delays, however we will treat each case in a prompt and thorough manner
  • If adjustments to the timelines are needed, we will let you know and explain why
  • If you are making a verbal complaint, you may be asked to put your complaint in writing, especially if it involves a serious or complex matter.

We make every effort to resolve complaints as quickly as possible, however there may be situations where there are extenuating circumstances and these standards cannot be satisfied.

If your complaint involves another division or social agency, we will let you know where to direct your complaint.

What happens if I disagree with the outcome of my complaint?

If you have received a response to your complaint that you disagree with or feel that the complaint has not been addressed or resolved to your satisfaction, you can contact the General Manager's Office at 416-397-9682. Your phone call will be directed to the Client Services & Information Unit management staff for another review.

If you are not satisfied after contacting the General Manager's Office, you may contact the Office of the Ombudsman, City of Toronto at 416-392-7062, or by email at ombuds@toronto.ca. For more information, visit the website for the Toronto Ombudsman.

Compliments

Providing excellent service is important to us. Customer service excellence is the cornerstone of our work at Toronto Employment & Social Services.

Every interaction we have with Toronto residents and employers is an opportunity for us to leave a great impression, and an opportunity for us to shape a positive view of the Toronto Public Service.

We encourage you to take a moment to let us know when you've had an excellent customer service experience. You can send your comments to the manager of your local office or you can reach us through our Client Services and Information Unit at 416-392-2956.