Ontario Works

If you have trouble meeting basic needs, you may qualify for Ontario Works. This social assistance program provides income support for basic living expenses and can help you prepare for and find work. If you are looking for job opportunities, please see our employment supports.

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Who is eligible

You may qualify based on:

  • Your earnings
  • How much you pay for rent
  • Your assets

If you are in a crisis, you may be fast-tracked to receive benefits sooner.

How to apply

Online

The online application for Ontario Works is available 24/7. It is often the fastest way to start receiving financial assistance. 

It takes 20 to 30 minutes.

Submit one application for you and your immediate family members who live with you.

Apply online

Phone

You can also call the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services if you would like to apply over the phone. 

Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, excluding holidays.

1-888-999-1142 and TTY: 1-800-387-5559

Get help to complete your application

Depending on your situation, Region of Waterloo staff may be able to assist you with completing your application. If you are in any of the following groups, you can apply at a local office by phone or in-person.

 If you are in one of the groups listed below, you can get help at a local office
  • An adult providing temporary care for a child who’s in financial need and is not your dependent
  • Under the age of 18
  • Self-employed
  • In need of a translator or do not speak English
  • Currently incarcerated
  • Victims of fraud
  • Do not have a phone/email
  • In an emergency situation in immediate need:
    • Homeless or pending eviction in less than 7 days
    • In a health related crisis
    • Victim of abuse
    • Victim of disaster (fire, flood etc.)
    • Applying for discretionary benefits including funeral applications

If you are not in one of these groups, but would like help completing an online application, visit a Welcome Space and a staff member will be able to assist you.

Office locations and Welcome Spaces

Open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday:

  • 235 King St. E., Kitchener
  • 99 Regina St. S., Waterloo
  • 150 Main St., Cambridge

Phone: 519-883-2100 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday to Friday.

 After you apply

Receiving Ontario Works

Health care and other benefits

If you receive Ontario Works, you may qualify for other benefits to help you pay for things like:

  • Starting a job or training
  • Items you need for work (safety boots, for example)
  • Drugs and medical supplies
  • Travel to medical appointments
  • Eye care
  • Diabetic supplies, surgical supplies and dressings
  • A special diet
  • Mobility or hearing aids 

Reporting requirements

If your living situation or income changes while you are receiving Ontario Works, you will need to fill out and submit a Change Form to your caseworker. This will ensure that you continue to receive the support you are eligible for.

If you are required to submit your earnings every month (money that you or others living with you receive through employment or paid training), you can download the Statement of Income and submit the completed form to your caseworker.

MyBenefits

If you already receive Ontario Works, sign up for MyBenefits to get information about your case, receive e-letters and report any income. Access MyBenefits on any device (smartphones, tablets and computers).

 

With MyBenefits, you can:

  • send documents to your caseworker electronically, saving time and money
  • check payment history and overpayment information
  • report earned income and track status
  • view profile information, report phone number and address changes
  • view and download letters
  • send messages to your Caseworker

Sign up for MyBenefits or ask your Caseworker for more information.

Overpayments

Changes in your life, such as getting a part-time job, paying less rent, or moving in with a partner, can impact how much money you receive from Ontario Works. Depending on when you report these changes to your caseworker, you may receive money you aren’t eligible for.

When this happens, it is called an overpayment. That money must be repaid. 10 percent of your benefits (formerly five percent) will be deducted each month until the extra amount is paid back in full. You can talk to your Ontario Works caseworker about lowering the monthly reduction to five percent.

Even if you no longer receive Ontario Works, you will be required to pay back the amount you were overpaid. 

There are several ways to do this:

  1. Online
    • Through your online personal banking. Follow the instructions to add Waterloo Region Social Services as a new payee, and use your SAMS ID# as the account number to set up the payee. You can make a one-time payment or set-up recurring payments.
  2. Visit one of three Community Services Welcome Spaces
    • You can make a repayment by cash, cheque, or debit
  3. Write a cheque payable to the Region of Waterloo
    • Send by mail to: Region of Waterloo, Corporate Finance – Ontario Works Finance, 150 Frederick St., 4th floor, Kitchener, Ontario N2G 4J3

Appeal a decision

Appeal a decision

If you disagree with a decision that's been made about your Ontario Works benefits, you can request a review by an impartial third party. This applies to the following: 

• You apply and are determined to be ineligible;
• If you did not receive a benefit you requested; or
• If your benefits are lowered or cancelled.

To request a review, call 519-575-4400 or you can complete the Internal Review Form.

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