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Need welfare? How to apply to Ontario Works

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What information do I have to give OW?

You have to give information about yourself, each member of your family, and anyone else who lives with you.

This includes:

  • how many people are in your family and their ages
  • immigration status
  • what type of housing you live in
  • what education you have
  • whether you are working now and information about past jobs

What information do I have to give about my financial situation?

You have to give information about:

  • income of any kind, which includes money from a job, support payments, or benefits such as Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Employment Insurance (EI)
  • assets, which include money in bank accounts, registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), registered education savings plans (RESPs), Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), insurance policies, and vehicles
  • debts, which include money you owe on credit cards, to the bank, and to other people

To qualify financially for OW, your income cannot be more than a certain amount. The amount depends on the size of your family and the cost of your housing.

OW looks at your assets because your assets cannot be worth more than a certain amount. This amount also depends on the size of your family.

There are some types of income and assets that OW does not count. For example, they do not count your home, one car, and most household items like furniture and appliances.

But you still have to provide information about all of your income and assets.

What documents do I have to give OW?

OW will ask you for documents that relate to yourself and the other people in your household who are included in your application.

The types of documents OW can ask for are listed below.

Personal identification documents, such as:

  • birth certificates or passports
  • health cards
  • Indian status cards
  • immigration documents

Documents related to housing, such as:

  • rent receipts and leases or tenancy agreements
  • mortgage agreements and statements
  • other bills related to housing costs, such as bills for hydro, water, gas, property tax, and home or apartment insurance

Legal documents, such as:

  • separation or divorce papers
  • custody documents
  • support orders

Proof of income and assets, such as:

  • bank statements or bank records
  • evidence of income from any source, including employment, support payments, workers' compensation, and payments from tenants, roomers, and boarders
  • income tax notices, called Notice of Assessment from Canada Revenue Agency
  • information about assets, including RRSP statements, car ownership papers, life insurance policies, and bonds

Proof of work and education, such as:

  • pay stubs, Record of Employment, letter of termination
  • documents showing school attendance

Proof of debts, such as:

  • credit card bills or cash advances
  • student loans, such as loans from the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)
  • other loans, even if the loan is from a relative or friend

Keep copies of any documents that you give to the OW worker. You can ask the worker to make copies of any documents that you bring to the appointment.

What other information can OW ask for?

OW can only ask you for information that relates to whether you are eligible for financial assistance.

If you think the OW office is being unfair or asking you for information that has nothing to do with whether you are eligible for assistance, contact your community legal clinic. To find the clinic nearest you, see How can I get legal help and information?

What if I have trouble getting documents?

You should not have to give OW any documents that you:

  • cannot get
  • cannot afford to get

If the OW office asks you to do this, ask them to check the information some other way. Or ask them to pay for the cost of getting the documents.

If you need extra time to get documents, ask the OW office for more time.

If you have trouble getting documents, contact your community legal clinic. See How can I get legal help and information?