Ontario Works is one of the social assistance programs from the Ontario Government. This post covers everything you need to know about the program. We’ll start with the Ontario Works Payment dates for 2021.
Then go into details about the different Ontario Works benefits, the eligibility criteria, how to apply and how it differs from Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
Ontario Works Payment Dates 2021
Ontario Works benefits are paid on the last business date of the previous month. For example, the payment for January 2021 was paid on December 31, 2020.
The 2021 Ontario Works payment dates are shown below:
|Benefit Month||Date Cheques are mailed||Payment Date|
|January||Dec 26, 2020||December 31, 2020|
|February||January 25, 2021||January 29, 2021|
|March||February 22, 2021||February 26, 2021|
|April||March 25, 2021||March 31, 2021|
|May||April 23, 2021||April 30, 2021|
|June||May 25, 2021||May 31, 2021|
|July||June 24, 2021||June 30, 2021|
|August||July 23, 2021||July 30, 2021|
|September||August 25, 2021||August 31, 2021|
|October||September 24, 2021||September 30, 2021|
|November||October 25, 2021||October 29, 2021|
|December||November 24, 2021||November 30, 2021|
Ontario Works payments can be received using any of the 3 options below:
- Direct Bank Deposit
- Reloadable Payment Card; or
- Bank Cheque
The preferred, quickest, and easiest of the 3 options is Direct bank deposit and it ensures that you’ll have access to the funds on the Ontario Works payment dates above.
You can also opt for the Reloadable payment card that works like a regular debit card that can be used at any ATM, POS or for online transactions. Each month’s benefit amount will be loaded to the card.
Just like ODSP payments, cheques are discouraged and can only be used in exceptional circumstances. For example, you live too far from a bank or ATM, have a condition that limits your ability to use a debit card and so on.
Ontario Works cheque dates
Cheques are mailed out a few days earlier but the date you receive it will depend on the Canada Post delivery in your area. It may be earlier or later but it will be dated as the last business day of the month.
So to ensure you receive your benefits on time, you should sign up for one of the other payment options.
What Is Ontario Works?
Ontario Works (OW) is a social assistance program that provides financial and employment supports for Ontario residents with financial need.
Like ODSP, the program has been helping people since 1997 when the Ontario Works Act was passed by the Government of Ontario.
As at October 2020, there were over 290,000 Ontario Works beneficiaries.
Ontario Works Financial Assistance
The financial assistance from Ontario Works helps eligible beneficiaries with the cost of their basic needs and housing.
Some of the factors that affect how much you can receive monthly are family size, housing cost, income and assets.
A single person with no dependents will receive $343 as basic needs amounts while a couple gets $494. The amount increases for each dependent that is 18 years of age and older.
The monthly maximum shelter allowance depends on the family size. A single person receives $390 and a married couple with a child gets $697. Housing cost includes rents, mortgage payments, taxes, utilities and so on.
Those living under a board and lodging arrangement will not get the basic needs amount and shelter allowance. Instead, they get a board and lodging amount plus a special allowance of $71 monthly.
The board and lodging amount starts at $533 for a single person with no dependents.
Ontario Works Employment Assistance
The employment assistance provides practical help to OW beneficiaries to prepare for work and find a job.
It will help you identify what you need to get a job and develop a plan based on your skills. Some of the services provided under the Ontario Works employment assistance include:
- Job search, resume writing and Interview Preparation workshops
- Job counseling and training programs referrals
- Access to basic education
- Information on who’s hiring; etc.
Participating in employment assistance activities is one of the key requirements for receiving Ontario Work financial assistance.
Ontario Works Benefits
As an Ontario Works client, you and your family may also receive additional benefits, including health benefits, depending on your personal circumstances.
The available Health Benefits are:
Prescription drug coverage: for drugs prescribed by an approved health care professional or included in the Ontario Drug Formulary
Dental coverage for children: Enrolment in Healthy Smiles Ontario for children under 17. Coverage includes teeth cleaning, check-ups and dental treatment
Diabetic or Surgical supplies and dressings: syringes, blood glucose monitors etc. if prescribed and you don’t have any other coverage
Vision care: Prescription eyeglasses and eyeglass repairs for children
Eye examinations: Routine eye exams once every 24 months for those between ages 20-64. Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) covers eye exams for the other age groups.
Assistive Devices: visual aids, hearing aids, mobility devices (wheeled walkers and wheelchairs), speech devices, respiratory devices, orthotics/prosthetics
Extended Health Benefits: For those that are ineligible for OW but have high health costs.
Other Benefits: such as Transition Child Benefit (if you have kids below 18) and Guide Dog Benefit
Ontario Works Emergency Benefits
Ontario residents that are in an emergency or crisis can apply for emergency benefits that covers things like food and housing.
The amount you can get varies depending on your specific circumstances but it will not exceed the financial assistance you would get with Ontario Works.
For example, a single person can get up to $733 per month and more if they have children.
However, existing Ontario works and ODSP clients do not qualify for this assistance. You can learn more about the program here.
Ontario Works Rate: How much you can get?
As mentioned earlier, the OW amount you can receive depends on your family size, housing cost, income, and assets.
Here’s a table showing the maximum monthly basic needs amounts you can receive depending on your family size
Each additional dependent aged 18 years and above gets $175.
The monthly shelter allowance that you get is the higher of the maximum allowance for your family size and your actual housing costs.
|Family Size||Maximum Monthly Shelter Allowance|
|6 or more||$844|
For example, if you pay $600 as a single person (family size of 1), your monthly shelter allowance from OW will be $390.
On the other hand, a couple without kids paying $500 as rent will only receive $500 in shelter allowance and not the maximum amount of $642.
Board and Lodging Amounts
Ontario Works clients living under a board and lodging arrangement gets a special allowance of $75 in addition to their monthly cost up to a maximum rate (shown in the table below).
A single Ontario Works recipient will receive $604 as board and lodging allowance. That is, special allowance of $73 plus $533 for board and lodging.
You can check here for a summary of Ontario Works rates and how much you can expect you receive based on your personal situation.
Ontario Works Eligibility
To be eligible for Ontario Works, you must be:
- Aged 16 or older
- Resident of Ontario. (Visitors or tourists are ineligible)
- Have a financial need, that is you need help to cover your family’s living expenses
Financial needs is accessed through the family’s income and assets. The asset limits are based on family size:
|Family Size||OW Asset Limits|
|Couple with One Child||$15,500 plus $500 for each additional dependent|
|One Parent with One Child||$10,500 plus $500 for each additional dependent|
Also, a key part of being eligible for Ontario Works is taking part in employment assistance activities that’ll help you get a job. These include education programs, job-specific skills training, Learning, Earning and Parenting (LEAP), Employment placements and Community placements.
You must sign a Participation Agreement that lists the employment activities you’ll participate in.
How to Apply for Ontario Works
Ontario works application can be submitted online and it takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete.
You will need to provide your personal information such as names, address, total monthly income and expenses, child-care costs and so on.
Other information and documents you will need to provide for yourself and family members include social insurance numbers (SINs), birth certificates, OHIP cards, tax returns, banking information and so on.
An Ontario Works caseworker at a local office will be in touch within four (4) business days to schedule an appointment with you to verify your information. Additional documents like utility bills may be requested.
Also, applicants are required to sign a consent form to allow Ontario Works access or request information from other government bodies or organizations like Employment Insurance, TransUnion Canada etc.
It’ll take up to another four days for the final review to be done. If approved, your caseworker will let you know how much you can receive from Ontario Works and when the payments will start.
Earning Money while on Ontario Works
You can work and earn some income while receiving Ontario Works benefits.
Each month, you’re expected to report your gross pay and net pay using the Statement of Income Report form. Partner’s and adult dependents income should also be reported.
Your total income for a month will be used to calculate how much you can receive for the following month.
The first $200 received in a month will not count towards your OW financial assistance. In other words, it will not reduce your payments. After this, each additional dollar will reduce your support payments by 50 percent.
Ontario Works Rates Increase In 2021
The government has not announced any proposed increases to the Ontario Works payment for 2021.
The last increases to Ontario Works rates were in 2018. There have been plans to reform the various social assistance programs by the government, but there are no mention of increasing the rates for now.
Ontario Works Changes 2021
In February 2021, the Ontario Government announced it has started working with its municipal partners to better connect people with the supports they need.
This is the next step in the province’s vision for a renewed social assistance program that was announced in fall 2020. Over the coming years, the plan is to “create an efficient, effective and streamlined social services system” that helps more people move towards employment and independence.
As part of the changes, a new digital system that aims to make the application process easier and ease the burden of caseworkers is being tested.
The province will also oversee the application and payment of social assistance, with the municipal partners focusing on helping people get back to work and access supports for health and housing.
However, critics believe the changes are ill-timed and would cause chaos and uncertainty especially for ODSP recipients.
Ontario Works and ODSP
Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is another social assistance program from the provincial government of Ontario. Both programs are administered by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.
While Ontario Works is for anyone that needs with their living expenses, ODSP caters for people living with disabilities.
ODSP assistance provides income support (basic needs allowance, shelter allowance or board and lodging allowance), health benefits and employment support to help beneficiaries find and keep jobs.
A single person with no dependents can receive up to $1,341 per month for basic needs and shelter under ODSP.
You can check this post for how ODSP benefits works, ODSP rates and the ODSP payment dates for 2021.
Ontario Works FAQs
Ontario Works payments are received at midnight on the last business day of each month if you have enrolled for direct deposit. Cheques are mailed out a few days earlier
You can get a maximum of $343 as basic needs allowance and $390 for shelter for a maximum of $733 per month.