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Participation Agreements and Ontario Works

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What types of activities could be in an Agreement?

A Participation Agreement usually says that you have to be looking for a job, or doing things that will help you find work.

OW might say that you have to do more than one type of activity. For example, you might have to look for a job and do a community placement. See Doing a community placement below.

Looking for a job

You might have to agree to spend a certain number of hours each week doing things like:

  • applying for jobs
  • going to job interviews
  • going to workshops to learn about how to get a job
  • going to a job club with other people who are looking for work
  • meeting with employment counsellors

The activities that the OW worker wants you to do should be ones that can help you find work.

You can suggest activities that you think could help you get a job.

Going to training or other programs

If the OW worker thinks you need to improve your education or skills, you might have to agree to go to an upgrading or training program.

OW could also refer you to a literacy program or for classes in English as a Second Language (ESL).

If you did not finish high school, you might have to agree to take courses so you can get a high school diploma.

If you are a single parent who is 16 or 17 years old, there are special rules that apply to you. This includes taking part in the Learning, Earning and Parenting program (LEAP).

If you have problems with drugs or alcohol, OW could refer you to a treatment program.

Starting your own business

If the OW office agrees, you could work towards starting your own business. It is important to talk to your OW worker if this is something you would like to do.

Paying for costs of activities

OW can pay for costs you have because you are doing the activities in your Agreement. For example, they can pay for work clothes, tools and equipment, travel, and child care.

Ask your OW worker or contact a community legal clinic for more information. See How can I get legal help?

Doing a community placement

OW may say that you have to do a community placement.

Community placements are sometimes called "community participation" or "voluntary placement". Some people call it "workfare".

People in community placements work at non‑profit, community, or public organizations.

Examples of these types of organizations are schools, daycare centres, food banks, libraries, and community centres.

If you are already doing volunteer work, you can ask your OW worker if your volunteer hours can be a community placement.

And if you have an idea for a community placement, you can ask your OW worker about it.

Time spent at a community placement

A community placement is usually no more than 6 months long. But it can be up to 12 months long if it is:

  • part of a plan to give you training on specific job skills, or
  • the best way to help you get a job as soon as possible

If you finish a placement, you may be able to stay on and do another placement at the same organization. But you will have to do different things and learn different skills.

There is a limit to the number of hours that OW can ask you to spend at a community placement.

This amount cannot be more than the number of hours you would have to work at minimum wage to earn the amount you get from OW each month.

And community placements cannot be more than:

  • 8 hours a day,
  • 44 hours a week, or
  • 70 hours a month.