Legal Information - Ontario Works - FAQ's

This page offers answers to questions most frequently asked by our clients regarding Ontario Works. 

Our Social Assistance tip sheets:

Q:  How do I apply to Ontario Works (OW) for financial assistance?

A: Contact your local OW office to apply. To find the contact information for the OW office, call Service Ontario:

     Toll-free ................... 1-800-267-8097

     Toll-free TTY ............ 1-800-268-7095


You can also apply online by visiting (Click the "Apply Online" link on left side of the page.)  


If you have trouble using the Online Application for Social Assistance, please call Service Ontario at
1-855-231-1255 for help, Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00pm (Eastern Standard Time).


Q:  What information will I have to give when I apply for assistance?

A:  You will have to provide information about:

  • family size and ages of family members,
  • income—including pensions and allowances,
  • assets—including money in bank accounts, registered retirement savings
  • plans (RRSPs), registered education savings plans (RESPs), and vehicles,
  • debts—including money you owe on credit cards, to the bank, and to other people,
  • housing arrangements,
  • expenses for basic needs, and
  • education, employment status, and
  • employment history.

Q:  What if Ontario Works (OW) will not accept my application?

A:  OW cannot legally refuse to take your application. If this happens, ask to speak to a supervisor and insist that they take your application. If there is still a problem, contact your community legal clinic. It is important to complete your application so that you can get OW’s decision in writing.

Q:  Can I bring someone with me when I am dealing with Ontario Works (OW)?

A:  Yes. You have the right to bring a person of your choice with you. If you need more time or help to understand the documents, ask for copies to take away and read before you sign. If you need an interpreter, ask the OW office. Your spouse who lives with you should come to the interview.

Q:  What is a Participation Agreement?

A:  The Participation Agreement lists activities that you have to do to get financial assistance, for example, a job search or workfare placement. You and an OW worker are expected to agree on activities that will help you prepare for and get a job as soon as possible. Participation Agreements must be completed by you and your spouse.

Q:  What can I do if Ontario Works (OW) refuses to give me financial assistance?

A:  You can appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT). But first you must write to the OW office and ask for an "internal review".

Q:  How do I challenge a decision?

A:  You may be able to appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal if assistance from Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is:

  • refused,
  • reduced, or
  • cut off.

Q:  What is an internal review?

A:  You must write to the office that made the decision and request an "internal review". An internal review means that a different person in the office that made the decision will review that decision and decide whether or not to change it. You must ask for an internal review within 30 days from the date you received the decision. If the decision is mailed to you, you may have less than 30 days.

Q:  What if I disagree with internal review decision?

A:  You can appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT). There are time limits for filing your appeal with the SBT.

Q:  How do I appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal?

A:  You must use the official Appeal Form. You can get one from our office. You must file your appeal with the SBT within 30 days of the date of the internal review decision.

Q:  How do I get assistance until my appeal is decided?

A:  You can apply for "interim assistance" while you wait for the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) to decide your case. If the SBT orders it, the local office will have to pay you assistance while you wait for the appeal.

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