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.

As COVID-19 recovery continues, Community Services is re-opening its Welcome Spaces and resuming in-person service. However, things look a little different as we work together to stay healthy. Find out what you should know before you visit. Apply for Ontario Works online to get your application processed the fastest. If you call 519-883-2100 to apply, please stay on the line; we will get to you as soon as we can. During your call, you will be asked to provide your name, phone number, email and social insurance number. If you already receive Ontario Works, sign up for MyBenefits to report income changes or address changes online, see your past payments, and see your letters over the last 12 months. If you are looking for job opportunities, please see our employment supports

Applying for Ontario Works

How to apply

The online application for Ontario Works is available 24/7. It is often the fastest way to start receiving benefits. You can also call or drop in to apply for Ontario Works.

Apply online

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

 

Office locations, 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

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.

Ontario Works overview

Watch a brief video to see how social assistance works.

Third Party Checks

When you apply for Ontario Works, your personal information is stored in the Ontario Social Assistance Management System (SAMS).  To determine your eligibility, staff will access your personal and financial information that is kept in other government or financial computer systems.  You will be asked if staff may access this information, however this is a requirement to apply to Ontario Works. If you do not give staff permission to access this information, you cannot apply for Ontario Works. For more information, please see Third Party Checks - Information for Application of OW.

Health care and other benefits

If you receive Ontario Works, you may receive free counselling sessions and 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 

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.

Receiving Ontario Works

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.

Overpayments

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

When this happens, it is called an overpayment. That money must be repaid. Ten 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:

  • 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
  • Visit one of 3 Community Services Welcome Spaces  - you can make a repayment by cash, cheque, or debit
  • Write a cheque payable to the Region of Waterloo; and mail attention to Region of Waterloo, Corporate Finance – Income Support, 99 Regina Street South, 1st Floor, Waterloo, Ontario N2J 4V6 

 

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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