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Need welfare? How to apply to Ontario Works

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Who can get assistance from OW?

OW assistance is for people who need money for one of the following reasons:

  • they cannot find work
  • they are not able to work right now
  • they are earning so little money that they qualify for assistance
  • they are applying to ODSP and need assistance while waiting for disability benefits

OW has rules about who can get assistance and what you must do to keep getting it.

You must qualify financially. This means that you must need financial help so that you have enough money to live on.

You must also meet OW rules about:

  • income, which is how much money you already get
  • assets, which are things you own and any money or savings you have

Income and assets of people I live with

OW usually includes the income and assets of other people in your household when they figure out if you qualify financially.

They have rules about who they include as part of your household, which they call your "benefit unit". For example, if you live with your parents, OW does not include them if you are an adult and you qualify for OW on your own.

OW includes your spouse if the two of you live together.

Your spouse can be someone of the same or opposite sex. You could be married to one another or not.

Living with a spouse can affect whether you get assistance. So, you may want to get legal advice about whether OW might consider someone you live with to be your spouse.

A community legal clinic may be able to help you. See How can I get legal help and information?

What if my spouse does not live with me?

Usually, OW includes your spouse as part of your household only if you are living together.

But sometimes they treat your spouse as if you are living together, even if you are not. For example, your spouse might be:

  • away at school
  • looking for work somewhere else
  • in another country waiting to get a visa so they can come to Canada

If your spouse is not living with you but OW includes them as part of your household, this can affect whether you will get assistance. And if you do get assistance, it can affect the amount you get.

If this is your situation, it is important to get legal advice. A community legal clinic may be able to help you. See How can I get legal help and information?