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Need welfare? How to apply to Ontario Works

Step 1: Choose language Step 2: Choose from available formats and options
Available formats and options

How do I apply to OW?

To start your application, you can contact your local OW office. Or you may be able to use OW's online application form.

The next step is an appointment with an intake worker to complete your application.

When you apply, you will have to:

  • give personal and financial information about yourself, each member of your family, and anyone else who lives with you
  • provide documents that relate to yourself and other people in your household
  • sign a number of forms that the OW worker fills out with you

How to find the local OW office

Call ServiceOntario and give them your postal code:

Toll-free 1-800-267-8097

Toronto area 416-326-1234

Toll-free TTY 1-800-268-7095

Toronto area TTY 416-325-3408

Call 211 and give them your postal code.

Look in the government section of your phone book or on the website of your local or municipal government. This might be your town, city, county, district, or region.

Use the provincial government's online Ontario Social Assistance Office Finder where you enter your address or postal code to find the OW office nearest you. Go to and look in the section about Ontario Works.

How to apply online

You may be able to start your application online. Go to and click on "Apply Online".

The information you enter online goes to your local OW office. Within 3 business days, a worker from that office is supposed to phone you to set up an appointment to complete the application.

If you do not have a phone number, call your local OW office to make the appointment.

What happens when I meet with an OW worker?

At the appointment, an OW worker will interview you and ask you for information to show that you qualify for assistance.

You will also have to sign forms that you fill out with the OW worker.

The interview is usually at the local OW office. If getting to the local OW office is hard for you, ask to have the interview at your home or somewhere that is better for you.

Important things to remember when meeting with OW

You have the right to bring someone with you for support. For example, you could bring a family member, a friend, or someone from a community group or agency.

You will have to sign documents and give information that OW uses to decide if you will get assistance. So, it is important that you understand what you are signing and what the OW worker tells you.

If you need more time or help to understand the documents, ask for copies to take away and read before you sign them.

If your spouse lives with you, they should come to the interview because they will have to sign documents as well.

If you need an interpreter who speaks your language, tell the OW office. You may need to bring your own interpreter with you. Contact your local community information centre if you need help to find an interpreter. To find a community information centre, call 211 or go to