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Ontario Works

Recent Changes to Ontario Works and You (285 KB)

Effective January 1, 2013
Ontario Works will no longer provide the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit (Start up benefit) due to changes by the Provincial Government.

Ontario Works is the program that delivers social assistance to residents of Ontario who are in financial need. The Ontario Works Act and Regulations came into effect in May 1998. Ontario Works focuses on helping employable people find work and become independent of social assistance. People in receipt of social assistance will be required to participate in the program as part of their continued eligibility for assistance. They must complete a 'Participation Agreement', which lists the activities they are agreeing to take part in or complete. These activities may include job searching, attending a job-finding club or other job training, completing a Community Placement, enrolling in Employment Placement, completing their education or starting their own business. Participants may have a 'deferral from participation', which removes their requirement to participate or restricts their participation. This may be because they are medically unable to participate, they are a single parent with pre-school children or there may be another reason.


How To Apply

Call Toll-free: 1-866-878-9588

Monday to Friday,
8:30 AM to 12:00 noon and 1:00 PM  to 4:30 PM

Visit www.ontario.ca/socialassistance to apply online.
Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Financial Assistance

Financial assistance is determined by the Ontario Works legislation and is provided to those who qualify by way of direct bank deposit or by cheque. Such things as the number of people in the family unit and accommodation costs determine the amount of assistance provided. Recipients of financial assistance must continue to have their case reviewed through the Case Verification Process (CVP). Participants are required to provide verification of any income, assets and accommodation costs they may have.


Clients are assisted with costs related to diabetic supplies, transportation to medical appointments, surgical supplies and certain other items called 'Discretionary Benefits' that may be paid over and above the regular social assistance rates.


Ontario Works Participation

People who are receiving financial assistance through Ontario Works must participate in one or more activities unless they have a 'deferral from participation'.


Participants agree to take part in one or more activities and document this in a contract called a 'Participation Agreement'. This is usually completed with an Ontario Works Caseworker. The Participation Agreement outlines what activities are to be completed and approximately how much time is to be spent on each one. Participation may include job searching, attending a job-finding club or other employment training, attending a community placement, taking part in the employment placement program, starting an approved business venture or attending school/upgrading. Normally, participants may be expected to spend up to 140 hours per month in activities.

If there is a cost or fee associated with the approved activity, funding can be approved and provided through 'Employment Supports' provided by our office. This may include childcare, transportation, school supplies or other approved costs.


Participants may have restrictions that limit their activities or participation and this is usually noted in the Participation Agreement.


Participants may be 'deferred from participation' if they are, for example, medically unable to participate or if they are a single parent with a pre-school child. There may be other reasons for a deferral as well.

Employment Supports

Employment Supports are resources offered to assist Ontario Works participants in their job search efforts. These include:


Financial Supports - Providing financial assistance to help with the cost of transportation, childcare, school supplies and certain training costs.


Workshop Supports - Providing training to improve employability, including resume writing, job-finding clubs, Internet training, WHMIS, health and safety training, and healthy living.


Education Supports - Upgrading services, which include educational assessments, referrals to basic skills training, upgrading to earn Grade 12 credits, help with literacy and numeracy.


Community Participation

What is Community Participation?

Community Participation, often called Community Placement, is designed to assist participants to become more employable. In Community Placement, participants are matched to unpaid work experiences with non-profit, public or community agencies.


Community participation provides participants with work experience, assists in making potential employment contacts and helps with obtaining employment references while they contribute to their community.


Sometimes participants are already volunteering in the community (such as at their child’s school or sports activities) and this can be recognized as a Community Placement.


Participants can contribute up to 70 hours per month in a Community Placement and normally this does not exceed six months. In special circumstances this can be extended to 11 months when a training plan has been included.


Participants can have expenses reimbursed (including costs such as childcare, transportation, work boots and clothing, safety equipment and required training).


Do you want to sponsor a Community Placement?

In order to sponsor a Community Placement your organization must be a non-profit, community-based or public agency. Placements cannot displace any paid employment and they cannot replace work done by a paid employee within the past two years. Upon request a detailed information package will be sent to you outlining the application process. Simply call our office at (613)267-4200.


Examples of successful placement ideas used in Lanark County:

  • Teacher’s assistant at local daycare centres
  • Maintenance workers
  • Office and clerical assistants
  • Animal Care assistants
  • Chainsaw operators
  • Museum assistants

Employment Placement

If you are job ready and want to find paid work, then Employment Placement may be right for you.

Employment Placement helps unemployed participants, and those working in jobs below their potential, to find (and maintain) paid employment suitable to their skills. It also assists participants interested in self-employment to develop their own business venture.


Services Available:

  • Assistance with coverage under the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB)
  • Financial incentives to employers to offset costs of training, and additional supervision of full-time/permanent employees for up to six months
  • Training incentives to offset training costs. Training may be provided by the employer or a third party (e.g. local college)
  • Payment to employers is made after one month, three months and six months of employment
  • Job screening and matching
  • Human Resources services
  • Additional supports for participants when starting a job, including childcare, transportation and equipment

Do you want to sponsor an Employment Placement?

Upon request a detailed information package will be sent to you outlining the application process. Simply contact our office at (613)267-4200.



Employment Placement can provide assistance and support to Ontario Works participants who have an approved business plan and who are beginning their own self-employment venture. Participants can be referred to an agency that specializes in helping people to develop a business plan and to establish and maintain a business. Income support can be provided to self-employed participants for up to 72 weeks. There must be a realistic expectation of success for continued qualification in the self-employment program.


Family Support/Eligibility Review

Family Support

Ontario Works provides assistance for families that are identified as benefit units. The Family Law Act outlines who is required to pay support and under what circumstances. The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) is a separate government organization that enforces support orders and requirements. The Family Responsibility Office number is 1-800-267-4330.


Families receiving Ontario Works assistance are required to pursue all available income, including potential child support, maintenance payments and alimony. The Family Support Department has trained staff who will assist Ontario Works participants in this area. This can include assistance with the court process, DNA testing and results, and liaison with the Family Responsibility Office.


Eligibility Review

The Eligibility Review department follows up on referrals to the welfare fraud hotline. This department had trained fraud investigation staff who work closely with the local police forces and courts. This often involves investigations of the complaint and referral to the police when appropriate. Where an investigation shows evidence of fraud by a person who has received social assistance, he or she may be charged under the Criminal Code or the Provincial Offences Act.


This department also reviews cases where an overpayment has occurred and will make arrangements with participants for repayment.


The Welfare Fraud Hotline is 1-800-394-7867.


Learning, Earning And Parenting

Learning, Earning and Parenting (LEAP) is designed to help young parents (between the ages of 16 and 21 years) complete high school, develop parenting skills and achieve economic independence.


LEAP involves the following components:

  • Learning – completion of High School Diploma
  • Earning – participation in Employment Supports activities (including volunteer work, summer employment and employment preparation)
  • Parenting – participation in parenting programs and child-development activities

As a LEAP participant, Ontario Works will provide financial incentives and supports to assist in achieving the above components. Incurred costs such as childcare, transportation, school supplies, clothing, counselling and recreational activities can be covered.

For more information on the Ontario Works Program in Lanark County, please contact:

Phone: (613)267-4200 x2140
Toll Free: 1-888-9-LANARK (1-888-952-6275)
Fax: (613)267-3620

Lanark County
99 Christie Lake Road
Perth, Ontario K7H 3C6

E-mail: ss@lanarkcounty.ca