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1. Introduction to the program guide

Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians is designed to help people affected by natural disasters get back on their feet.

After a natural disaster, people may need help to cover the costs of cleaning, repairing and replacing essential property, so their lives can get back to normal. Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians provides financial assistance to individuals, small owner-operated businesses, farmers and not-for-profit organizations. It helps cover emergency expenses, repairs, or replacement of essential property after a natural disaster.

The Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing may activate the program in the event of a natural disaster such as a flood or a tornado. Homeowners and residential tenants, small business owners, farmers, and not-for-profit organizations can apply for assistance under the program if they are located in the defined geographical area for which the program has been activated following a natural disaster.

Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians is activated for a specific period of time after a natural disaster.

Eligible applicants can receive financial assistance for emergency expenses and costs for repair or replacement of essential property. The intent of the program is to return essential property to its basic function. The program covers the cost of returning property to a basic standard, and cannot be used for making improvements. Financial assistance under the program is subject to caps and deductibles.

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide information on the program and assist people in applying for Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians. Before you submit an application, please read these guidelines carefully to understand what costs are eligible under the program and what documentation is required to support your application for financial assistance under the program.

1.1 Eligible disasters

Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians is activated when a sudden, unexpected natural disaster causes costly and widespread damage to eligible private property.

Examples of natural disasters for which the program may be activated are floods, tornadoes, landslides and earthquakes.

The program does not apply to non-natural disasters such as human-caused events, or to events that occur over an extended period of time such as droughts.

Damage caused by sewer backup is not generally eligible under the program. However, there is a special provision to provide assistance to low-income households who experience flood damage caused by sewer backup. This provision is described in Section 2.5.

1.2 Who can apply

There are four applicant categories:

  • homeowners (primary residence only) and residential tenants
  • small, owner-operated businesses
  • small, owner-operated farms
  • not-for-profit organizations

You may submit an application in more than one category (e.g., as a homeowner and as a small owner-operated business owner), if applicable. For example, if both your small owner-operated business and your primary residence suffer damage as a result of the same disaster, submit one application as a small owner-operated business and one application as a homeowner. If you are a landlord and you own multiple rental units that are damaged in a disaster, and you meet the eligibility criteria under the small owner-operated business category, submit one application with all the units listed.

The program does not apply to First Nation reserves. First Nations living on reserves affected by a natural disaster should contact Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada for information about disaster financial assistance.

1.3 How to apply

If you have sustained damage to your essential property as a result of a natural disaster and the program is activated in your geographic area, you must first complete the application form in full and sign it. Submit the completed form and all available supporting documentation to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing at the address on the form. Application forms are available on the program’s website. Application forms are also distributed through municipal offices and other locations in communities affected by a disaster.

The application deadline is 120 calendar days after the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing announces that the program is activated in your area. Please check the program website to verify the deadline applicable to the disaster in your community. You are encouraged to submit your application as soon as you can assemble the required documents and information so that financial assistance for eligible costs can be provided to you as soon as possible. If there are expenses that you have not yet incurred, you may submit estimates from contractors with your initial application, and submit copies of final invoices and receipts later.

1.4 Documents required to apply

You are required to provide evidence that your property was damaged in the natural disaster. You must also provide documentation that you have incurred eligible costs for emergency expenses or repair or replacement of essential property.

It is important to take photographs to record the damage to your property. Include both interior and exterior views, and photograph all damaged items before you discard them. If practical, retain samples of damaged materials.

Information and documents you will need to support an application may include:

  • proof of your identity and address
  • photographs of damage to your property
  • records of hours you spent on emergency cleanup
  • copies of receipts and invoices for all costs incurred
  • estimates from qualified contractors for repairs that are not yet completed
  • a letter from your insurance company that details the type and cause of damage or loss, the amount that was covered under insurance, and the reason any portion of the damage or loss was not covered

Submit copies of documents (paper or scanned) with your application form. Keep the originals of all documentation submitted with your application in case we ask to see them.

After you submit your application, a representative from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing or an adjuster from a firm working under contract for the ministry may contact you to verify what you have submitted or request additional information. The adjuster may also request to visit your property for the purpose of assessing your Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians application.

If you cannot provide adequate documentation to support that the amounts you are applying for are eligible under the program guidelines, you may not be able to receive financial assistance.

Specific documentation requirements for different applicant types are listed under the specific applicant category.

Updated: May 03, 2022
Published: October 26, 2018