Social assistance and disability benefits

Region: Ontario Answer # 717

Ontario social assistance programs

The Ontario Government administers two different social assistance programs that provide financial support to people without an income because they cannot find work, or they are disabled.  These programs are the Ontario Works Program, which is administered by your local municipality, and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) which is administered by the Province.

Ontario Works Program

If you are in temporary financial need, Ontario Works can provide you with money, and help you find a job.

To be eligible, you must live in Ontario, need money right away to help pay for food and housing costs, and be willing to take part in activities that will help you find a job. Activities that will help you find a job are called Employment Assistance Activities and include: Education Programs, Job-Specific Skills Training, Literacy Screening and Training, Employment Placements, and Community Placements.

The amount of money you may receive from Ontario Works will depend on a number of factors including: family size, income, assets, and housing costs. Beside food and housing costs, you may also be eligible to receive a variety of other benefits such as: prescription drug and dental coverage, eyeglasses, moving or eviction costs, or employment-related costs.

You may also be eligible for the Ontario Child Benefit, which is available to help pay for the cost of the children’s basic needs such as food and clothing.  For more information about the Ontario Child Benefit, visit the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.

To apply for Ontario Works benefits, you should call the nearest Ontario Works office and ask to speak with an intake worker. The intake worker will assess your situation and arrange an appointment to finalize your application at their office. Applications can also be made online at the Ministry of Community and Social Services website. Visit Ontario Works for more information.


Ontario Disability Support Program

People who are considered disabled according to the government’s definition, can receive financial support and help finding a job through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). To be eligible for disability benefits, you must complete the application process, which includes medical examinations.

Under the Ontario Disability Support Program, the amount you receive depends on your living arrangement.  It is made up of two portions: Income Support and Employment Support.

Income Support is meant to supplement other income. The basic needs portion of Income Support is meant to help cover the cost of food, clothing, and other necessary personal items. The amount you receive is based on a number of factors, including the number of people in your family and the age of your family members, where you live and how much you pay to live there, and your income and any assets you may have. The shelter allowance portion of the Income Support is meant to help cover such things as: rent or your mortgage payments, heat and utilities;  and is based on your actual shelter costs up to a maximum depending on the number of people in your family. Those who qualify for Income Support may also be eligible for other benefits such as drug and dental coverage, vision care, help with transportation costs, and wheelchair/mobility devise repairs and batteries.

Employment Support is also provided and helps people with disabilities, who can and want to work, prepare for and find a job.

To apply for benefits, call the nearest Ontario Disability Support Program office. Applications are also available online, or at your local ODSP office. It can take from a few weeks up to a few months to find out if you qualify for disability benefits. In the meantime, if you need help right away to pay for food, housing and other living costs, you can apply for financial assistance under Ontario Works. If you qualify, Ontario Works will be able to help you right away. They can also help you apply for Ontario Disability Support Program Income Support.

For more information about the Ontario Disability Support Program, visit the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.




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