OCAP | How To Apply
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty is a direct action anti-poverty organization that fights for more shelter beds, social housing, and a raise in social assistance rates.
poverty, homelessness, housing, social assistance, ontario works, odsp, anti-poverty. ocap. ontario coalition against poverty, shelters,
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Getting on Ontario Works or OW is a two part process.

First, you do a phone or online application (they say you can go to the office and do it, but in Toronto that just means they let you use a phone). For phone applications, contact your municupality or First Nation directly. Click here for the Provincial OW office locator.

Second, you have to go into the office and answer basically the same questions again and sign a bunch of forms. In addition to the application, you will be required to sign:

  • a form granting OW permission to verify your personal informaiton (this includes access to your bank account and financial information, government agencies, landlords, etc.)
  • a form granting them access to your tax information
  • a participation agreement (usually it says that you will look for work or go to ESL or school). You can get a limited participation agreement if you have health or disability issues or kids so you don’t have to look for work, etc.
  • a form about your “rights and responsibilities” – your worker should go through this with you before you sign it; if they don’t, you should ask them to

You will have to bring a bunch of paperwork for the in-person application and they will tell you what you need to bring.

If you have little or no money and no assets, you should qualify, even if you don’t have an address. It takes about two weeks before you get your first cheque but it is back dated to you phone intake. The sooner you apply, the better off you will be.

Emergency Assistance – If you are applying for social assistance and your health or welfare are in danger, you can get 2 weeks of emergency assistance. You have to show you have no other options, including using credit cards and all of your assets.

You also have to show that if you don’t get the money you or your family’s health will be in danger (including loss of housing, loss of heat, not having any food) or that your kids won’t continue to be able to live with you if you don’t get the money.

While it is the law to give out emergency assistance, it is very rare. If you ask for it though, it could get a quicker appointment.

If You Don’t Have ID – you can still apply but OW can require that you get ID in order to get ongoing assistance.

You Can Bring Someone with You  – you always have a right to bring someone with you to an appointment (or have them on the phone). This can be especially useful for you if you do not speak English well.

Refusing to Accept Applications – Ontario Works is not legally allowed to refuse an application for assistance. If this happens, talk to a supervisor. If they still won’t accept your application, call your local legal clinic or, in Toronto, call OCAP.