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Employment Insurance

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Can I apply for social assistance (welfare) while I wait for EI?

Yes. You might be able to get social assistance benefits from Ontario Works (OW) while you wait for EI. You should apply right away. You will be asked about your income and assets and why you are unemployed. You may also be asked for proof that you have applied for EI.

Because EI applications can take a long time to process, you might get OW for several weeks before you get your EI. When you apply for OW, you will have to sign an Assignment of Benefits form. This lets EI pay back the OW benefits you receive while you are waiting for your first EI payment. It also makes sure that you do not get both kinds of benefits for the same period.

You should tell the OW office as soon as you get your first EI payment. If your EI benefits are less than the amount you receive on OW, you might be able to continue to get some OW benefits to make up the difference.

If you are refused OW, contact your community legal clinic for help. You have to act quickly because there are strict and very short time limits to have your refusal reviewed. For more information, see CLEO’s resource, Appealing a decision about social assistance.