February 2024

Legislative authority

Sections 2 - 9, 14 - 16(1), 24, 25, 41, 44 and 46 of the Act
Sections 1, 3 - 5, 14(1), 16 - 22, 24, 26 - 28 and 67 of Regulation 134/98.

Audit requirements

Applications are on file with all required forms completed, signed, and if required, witnessed and/or commissioned.

All information and documentation required to support an eligibility decision has been provided and verified. In respect of reapplications or geographic transfers, delivery agents have a 90-day timeframe to acquire outstanding documentation (see Directive 2.2: Reapplications and reinstatements).

Third party verification of eligibility related information (e.g., income and assets) is completed and documented.

Application of policy

An applicant is a person who applies for assistance or a person on whose behalf an application is made. An application is made for a benefit unit which includes the applicant, their spouse and any dependents.

An application for assistance is made in the geographic area where the applicant ordinarily resides. A transient or homeless person is considered to reside in the geographic area where they apply for assistance or the geographic area where they are a resident of an emergency hostel (see Directive 3.1: Residency requirements for more information).

Anyone who wishes to apply for assistance under the Act is to be given the opportunity to make an application and have their application reviewed. When the application is completed the Administrator makes a decision regarding the applicant’s eligibility for assistance and communicates the decision in a format and manner approved by the Director (see Directive 10.1: Notice and internal review process for more information).

A new Application for Assistance may not be required in the following cases (see Directive 10.1: Notice and internal review process):

  • Ontario Works recipients moving from one delivery agent to another
  • those seeking reinstatement to Ontario Works in the month following termination
  • those who are re-applying to Ontario Works within one-year of a previous application

Application Process

Applicants can apply by telephone, online or in person at a local office.

Telephone application

Where the application process was initiated by telephone, the application may proceed to an online submission or to an in-person appointment. depending on the circumstances.

Applicants are provided with information regarding the application process, including eligibility criteria and the documents and information required to complete the application.

Applicants must be informed that a decision will not be made until the completed application is submitted either online or in-person.The initial point of contact will depend on how the application was submitted, online or in person.

Online application

Where an application is submitted online, the initial point of contact is the date the application is submitted to SAMS from  the Social Assistance Digital Application (SADA).

In-person application

When the applicant initiates an application in-person at the local office, the initial point of contact is the date the applicant makes contact with the local office. Situations may include:

  • the local office is a site not using SAMS and an application cannot be completed through SADA
  • the applicant is requesting reinstatement to Ontario Works in the month following the termination of the benefit unit, or the applicant is re-applying for Ontario Works within one year of a previous application (see Directive 2.2: Re-applications and reinstatements for more information)
  • the applicant is in a crisis or emergency situation that needs to be dealt with immediately (see Directive 2.3: Emergency assistance for more information)
  • the applicant appears to qualify for rapid reinstatement under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or wishes to apply for ODSP and is not in immediate financial need. In these situations the applicant should be referred to the nearest ODSP office (see Directive 2.4: Referrals to the Ontario Disability Support Program for more information)
  • the applicant is an active Ontario Works participant who is moving to another delivery agent’s geographic area
  • the applicant’s responses are difficult to understand
  • the applicant is exhibiting a high level of frustration or difficulty in responding to questions
  • the applicant is unable to communicate in English or, in areas designated under the French Language Services Act, in French
  • the applicant is 16 or 17 years old and does not live with their parent(s) (see Directive 3.5: Applicants and participants under the age of 18 for more information)

Voluntary withdrawal

The applicant is also advised of their right to withdraw an application for assistance at any time during the application process and that voluntarily withdrawing an application prior to a determination of eligibility means:

  • the application is incomplete
  • the applicant cannot request an internal review and has no rights to appeal as no eligibility decision has been made
  • the information the applicant has provided will be kept on file and will be available for a new application within one year should the applicant wish to start the application process again

The withdrawal of the application will be documented, document records (hardcopy and/or electronic files as applicable) will be closed, and the applicant will receive notice of the file’s closure (i.e., "the Voluntary Withdrawal Letter”).

Third party verification

The application process includes third party checks, which are completed to verify eligibility-related information provided by an applicant.

Staff may request verbal consent from the applicant, the applicant’s spouse, and any dependent adults, to allow for third party verification of eligibility-related information. A person may choose not to provide verbal consent. In these cases, the application process continues and third party verification is deferred until the Consent to Disclose and Verify Information form is signed.

Third party checks include requests from the following:

  • Canada Revenue Agency (CRA): income verification and other eligibility -related information – mandatory
  • Equifax Canada: asset verification – mandatory
  • Ministry of Transportation: mandatory where there has been a history of vehicle ownership or changes in address
  • Family Responsibility Office: mandatory where there is spousal support payment information
  • Employment Insurance: mandatory where there has been a history of employment and potential eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits

Additional requests may be made, as required, to obtain or verify eligibility related information on behalf of the applicant or any other member of the benefit unit.

Note: Third party checks with the CRA and Equifax to verify the financial information provided by the applicant or any other adult member of the benefit unit are mandatory to confirm eligibility for Ontario Works sites using SAMS., First Nations delivery sites who are not using SAMS should continue with their current practices.

Completing an application

A written determination of eligibility, as well as the issuance of assistance to an eligible applicant, should be completed within four working days from the point of initial contact, where an applicant has provided all of the required information for staff to make an eligibility decision.

When completing an application, the needs and circumstances of the applicant should be considered. The applicant should be advised that a relative, friend, or person from a community group or legal clinic may support them throughout the application process.. Applicants who require the services of a translator, cultural interpreter or sign language interpreter should be given sufficient time to arrange for these services.

An applicant may request that an appointment take place within their home, or at another location in the community, rather than at the local Ontario Works office, due to special circumstances. The Administrator may approve this request where appropriate, with priority given to the health and safety of the applicant and staff (see Directive 2.8: Home visits for more information).

There may be circumstances where an application cannot be completed within four working days. Administrators have the flexibility to complete an application for an applicant who may be eligible for assistance within the next ten working days, such circumstances may include:

  • leaving a hospital or institution such as a long-term care facility
  • being released from a correctional facility
  • moving out of the parental home
  • leaving a residential treatment program
  • leaving a situation of domestic violence
  • reaching the end of a period of ineligibility

Intake appointment

An in-person intake appointment may be necessary to complete the application process. During the intake appointment, the applicant is expected to provide required information, and complete and sign the application and all accompanying forms. Staff will verify and record the information provided by the applicant and will advise the applicant of their rights and responsibilities.

Staff will provide information regarding participation requirements, compliance, the Employment Information Session (EIS) and the Literacy Screening Questionnaire.

Staff should engage the applicant, the applicant’s spouse and any dependent adults in a collaborative process to develop individual participation plans, and may, where appropriate, make referrals to other community resources and services.

If an applicant previously received assistance, staff should review the file in advance of the appointment to identify any existing overpayments, non-compliance issues, and any previous participation agreement or action plan.

Forms required to complete an application

An application is not complete until the application and all accompanying forms have been completed and signed by the applicant, their spouse and, if required, any dependent adult(s) in the benefit unit.

Where an application has been submitted through the Social Assistance Digital application (SADA), the accompanying Combined E form ON00162E which includes the Declaration, Consent to Disclose and Verify Information (Canada Revenue Agency), and Consent to Disclose and Verify Personal Information are required to complete the application.

Note: the electronic agreement to participate in the social assistance digital application replaces the Participation Agreement form at initial intake (see Directive 2.5: Participation Requirements for more information)

Where an application has not been submitted through the SADA, the forms required for an application include:

  • Form 0983 – Application for Assistance
  • Form 2845 – Participation Agreement
  • Form 0985 – Consent to Disclose and Verify Information Form
  • Form 2999 – Canada Revenue Agency Consent Form

In all circumstances, all other required forms are to be completed as applicable (e.g., Form 2764 – Questionnaire for Applicants and Recipients who are Living with Another Adult)

The Rights and Responsibilities form is completed after the eligibility decision has been made, and must be completed during the initial case management meeting.

A responsible person may complete and/or sign the application for assistance and accompanying forms on behalf of the applicant or the applicant’s spouse where the applicant or the applicant’s spouse are unable to do so because of a disability. Where the applicant has a trustee, it is the trustee who must sign the application and accompanying forms. In both cases, the applicant is still required to meet with staff in person.

Information to be provided at application

Staff must verify and record the information provided by the applicant on the verification screen in SAMS or for sites not using SAMS, the Verification Checklist. This is a mandatory form that must be filled out during the application process.

The chart below outlines the information that must be verified during the application process, examples of the types of acceptable documentation and the recording requirements. These are minimum standards at application and delivery agents may require additional documentation depending on the circumstances of the case.

Information to be verifiedRecording requirements

Social Insurance Number (SIN)

  • SIN Card
  • Other official documentation showing the SIN (e.g., income tax return)
Visually verify and record on  the applicant’s file

Health number

  • Ministry of Health (MOH) issued Health Card (i.e., photo, non-photo or temporary card)
  • Other official document showing the health number (e.g. letter from the MOH or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC))
Visually verify and record on  the applicant’s file

Proof of identity and date of birth

Where identity and date of birth has not been verified via the digital application process (electronic identification), it can be verified with one of the following:

  • Birth certificate
  • Religious records (e.g., Baptismal certificate)
  • Naturalization certificate
  • Statement of live birth
  • Confirmation from the Registrar General of birth registration
  • Passport (e.g., Canadian or foreign)
  • Military record
  • Valid driver’s licence
  • National Registration File of 1940 held by Statistics Canada
  • Indigenous membership records (e.g., Indian band records, band membership cards, Haudenosaunee/Iroquois Passport, Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) issued membership, etc.)
  • Secure Certificate of Indian Status (secure status card) or Certificate of Indian Status (status card)
  • Immigration documents (e.g., Record of Landing, Canadian Citizenship Card, Confirmation of Permanent Residence)
  • Age of Majority Card
  • Ontario Photo ID Card
Original or copy on file
MOH issued Health Card (i.e., photo or temporary card). Note that non-photo health cards are acceptable to verify identity and date of birth of dependent children.Visually verify and record on  the applicant’s file

Employment Status

  • Record of Employment (ROE)
  • Pay stubs with year-to-date amounts
  • Letter of termination from employer
Visually verify and record on  the applicant’s file


  • Monthly bank statements
  • Employment receipts
  • Pay stubs
  • Income tax assessment (e.g., T4/T5)
  • Spousal and/or child support records, if applicable (e.g., support court order, private agreement, divorce settlement, staff accessed FRO Case Management System (FCMS) records)

Note: Original or copy on file for spousal support records

Visually verify and record on the applicant’s file


  • Bank statements
  • Life insurance policies
  • Funds held in trust
  • Vehicle ownership registration form
  • Savings plans
Visually verify and record on the applicant’s file

Shelter costs

  • Letter from a landlord
  • Rental receipt with landlord’s name and telephone number
  • Lease or rental agreement
  • Mortgage statement or agreement
  • Loan agreements for the purchase of a principle residence or necessary repairs to a residence
  • Property tax assessment or proof of property tax payment
  • Proof of insurance premium payments for fire, dwelling or contents
  • Proof of common expense fees paid for condominiums or cooperative housing units
  • Statements or payment receipts for hydro, utilities or heating costs
Visually verify and record on  the applicant’s file

Status in Canada

  • Canadian Birth Certificate
  • Certificate of Canadian Citizenship
  • Secure Certificate of Indian Status (secure status card) or Certificate of Indian Status (status card)
  • Temporary Confirmation of Registration Document
  • Canadian passport
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292 or 5509)
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Letter issued by IRCC verifying permanent resident status
  • Proof of application for permanent residence
  • Determination of eligibility for refugee status (IRCC form IMM-1442 or IMM-5292)
  • IRCC Temporary Resident document (IRCC form IMM 1442 or IMM 1263)
  • IRCC Scheduling Form
  • Refugee Protection Claimant Document (IMM-1442)
  • Acknowledgement of Claim and Notice to Return for Interview Form
  • Entry for Further Examination or Admissibility Hearing Form
  • Acknowledgement of Conditions Form (IMM-1262)
  • Other official documentation confirming legal residence in Canada (e.g., Request for Family Class Information (RFCI) form completed by IRCC)
Visually verify and record on  the applicant’s file

Incomplete information

Where the information necessary for making an eligibility determination is incomplete, the applicant is allowed up to ten working days to obtain and submit the outstanding information.

The accessibility of the information, the amount of control the applicant has over the information, and the time needed to obtain the information are factors that should be considered in setting the time frame. In some cases, Administrator may allow an applicant with extenuating circumstances more than ten working days. It is important that the applicant understands their responsibility to provide the information within the allotted timeframe, and that failing to provide the required information without reason may result in a decision of ineligibility.

Where an applicant is unable to cover the cost of documentation that is required to verify information requirements, lower-cost options should be considered (e.g., other community agencies). Alternatively, the Administrator may reimburse the applicant for the cost or pay the cost directly to the document provider.

Emergency assistance may be provided in situations where information is outstanding and a decision regarding eligibility has not been made (see Directive 2.3: Emergency assistance for more information).

For a variety of reasons, some Indigenous people may not have access to birth certificates or other forms of identification listed in the above chart. In these cases, there may be other documentation that is acceptable to verify an applicant’s identity based on individual circumstances.

Survivors and victims of human trafficking and individuals experiencing/at risk of experiencing violence

Survivors and victims of human trafficking (HT) and violence may not be able to fulfill social assistance verification requirements because their identification documents have been lost, withheld or destroyed by their trafficker/abuser. When applicants are identified as survivors/victims or are fleeing/at-risk of violence, or when the caseworker suspects this may be the case, the requirement to verify identity through documentation should not prevent caseworkers from determining eligibility and issuing social assistance in a timely manner.

The requirement to verify an applicant’s identity through documentation may be fulfilled after eligibility has been determined, within a reasonable timeframe set by the Administrator local office based on individual circumstances.

Rights and responsibilities

During the application process, the applicant is advised of their rights and responsibilities under Ontario Works. Generally, applicants, their spouses, and any dependent adults are responsible for:

  • participating in employment assistance activities and complying with the conditions of eligibility relating to employment assistance
  • making reasonable efforts to seek, accept and maintain employment for which they are physically capable, and that would increase employment income
  • making reasonable efforts to pursue financial resources they or their spouse/dependents may be entitled to or eligible for
  • reporting new and changed circumstances, participation in employment assistance activities, the receipt or disposition of assets, and the receipt or expected receipt of income or some other financial resource
  • responding promptly to requests for information related to initial or ongoing eligibility

Applicants should also be advised of their right to appeal a decision regarding initial or ongoing eligibility. Staff will explain the appeal process to the applicant, including the timelines for requesting an internal review, when and under what conditions an appeal can be filed with the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT), and how they may obtain further information about the appeal process (see Directive 10.1: Notice and internal review process and Directive 10.2: Appeal process for more information).

Referrals to resources and services

Pending the completion of the application process, it may be appropriate for staff to refer the applicant to other resources or services in the community such as an emergency hostel or a food bank.

If the applicant has a disability, they may be referred to the ODSP. Where the applicant is in immediate financial need, they may be eligible for Ontario Works assistance pending a decision under the ODSP (see Directive 2.4: Referrals to the ODSP for more information).

Employment Information Session (EIS)

As part of the application process, an Administrator may require an applicant, spouse or dependent adult to attend an EIS. Alternatively, attendance at an EIS may be the initial employment assistance activity on the participation agreement or action plan (see Directive 2.6: Employment Information Session for more information).

Literacy Screening Questionnaire

As part of the application process, an Administrator may also require an applicant and other adult members of the benefit unit with less than a grade 12 level education (or its equivalent) to take the approved Literacy Screening Questionnaire, with the exception of:

  • a person with a learning disorder
  • an applicant who is only applying for temporary care assistance

Alternatively, the Literacy Screening Questionnaire may be completed as an initial employment assistance activity or as part of the EIS (See Directive 8.3: Literacy screening, assessment and training for more information.)

Notice of eligibility decision

A decision regarding eligibility shall be made and communicated in a format and manner approved by the Director (see Directive 10.1: Notice and internal review process for more information), with assistance issued to an eligible applicant, within four working days from initial contact where an applicant has provided all of the required information for staff to make an eligibility decision. Initial contact means the point at which the applicant makes first contact, either by telephone, in person, or in an electronic manner approved by the Director, with the Ontario Works office.

Effective date of eligibility

An eligibility decision is effective from the date determined by the Administrator and may be before, on, or after the date of the decision.

Payment of assistance

Assistance may be paid by:

  • direct bank deposit (DBD)
  • reloadable payment card (RPC) where available
  • paper cheque (in exceptional circumstances)

For more information on these payment methods, see Directive 6.1 Calculating assistance.