Am I eligible for Ontario Works (OW)?

When you apply for Ontario Works (OW), you have to talk with an OW worker who decides if you are eligible.

To be eligible for financial assistance from Ontario Works (OW), you must:

  • Live in Ontario
  • Need money right away to pay for basic needs such as food and housing

The law does not say who is eligible for OW. Instead, it provides a list of who is not eligible for assistance.

You will not be eligible for OW assistance if you are:

  • A visitor, unless the person has:
    • Made a refugee claim, or
    • Has made an application for permanent resident
  • A tourist
  • A person against whom a deportation order has been made, or with respect to whom a departure order or an exclusion order under that Act has become effective, or a removal order has become enforceable, unless
    • for reasons wholly beyond the control of the person, the person is unable to leave the country; or
    • the person has made a Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) application 

What does OW consider?

OW will take into consideration your current situation, they will look at things like:

  • Your financial situation
  • If you are willing to do activities to try to find a job

What does my OW worker want to know?

Your OW worker will want to get an idea of what your current situation is like. To do this they may also ask you questions such as:

  • Do you have any income? How much?
  • How much are your housing costs?
  • What is your family size?
  • Were you fired, laid off or did you quit your job?
  • Have you ever been convicted of welfare fraud?
  • Are you living with your parents?
  • Are you under 16 years old?
  • Do you feel safe in your home?
  • Do you have a student loan?

For More Information

  • About Ontario Works - Official information about the Ontario Works program and links to related documents. From the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.
  • Who Can Receive Ontario Works - Official information about who is eligible for Ontario Works. From the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.
  • Ontario Works Offices - Find contact information for your local Ontario Works office.
  • Income Assistance - Clear language information about your legal rights to social assistance. From Steps to Justice.
Last updated: April 6, 2020 4001165