December 2021

Legislative authority

Sections 7(3), 13, 37, 71, 72, and 74(1) of the Act.
Sections 1(1), 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 15(1), 16, 17, 43, 44.1, 46, 47, 47.1 and 58.3 of Regulation 134/98.

Audit requirements

Only eligible applicants and participants receive assistance.

Adequate documentation is on file to support eligibility as it relates to residency requirements, including status in Canada.

Application of policy

First Nation Ontario Works Administrators may use their discretion as appropriate to reflect the priorities of their First Nation.

Ontario residency

To be eligible for Ontario Works, an applicant or recipient must be a resident of Ontario, and must reside in the geographic area where they apply for or are receiving assistance.

Residency for the benefit unit depends on the applicant or recipient. All dependents in the benefit unit, which includes a spouse, dependent adults and dependent children, must live with the applicant or recipient. A spouse who is absent from the dwelling of the applicant or recipient may still be considered a dependent unless the Administrator is satisfied that there is a breakdown in the relationship with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

Where the applicant has no permanent address, an application is made to the delivery partner in the geographic area where they clearly intend to live.

The length of time that an applicant has resided or plans to reside in a specific geographic area is not relevant for the purposes of eligibility.

Transient or homeless persons

A transient or homeless person is deemed to reside in the geographic area of the delivery partner in which they apply for assistance. Assistance to a transient or homeless person cannot be refused on the basis that there is no fixed address or conventional, structural dwelling place.

It is not acceptable practice, without an investigation into individual circumstances, for a delivery partner to urge or pay for a transient or homeless person to go to another delivery partner’s geographic area. If, however, an investigation leads the Administrator to conclude that it would likely be in the best interest of the applicant or recipient to relocate, then such action may be warranted.

Absence from Ontario

If a recipient or member of the benefit unit is absent from Ontario for a period of more than seven days, assistance will be reduced or cancelled unless the Administrator has determined the absence to be necessary for health reasons or reasonable due to exceptional circumstances (see Directive 9.2: Absence from Ontario for more information).

Status in Canada

All applicants and recipients must provide documentation to verify their status in the country. Acceptable documentation must be visually verified in technology or kept on file (original or copy) (see Directive 2.1: Application process for a list of acceptable documentation).


Tourists are people who are in Canada for a short period of time. They are not eligible for Ontario Works.


Visitors are people who are in Canada for a temporary purpose. A visitor may have a tourist visa, student visa or work permit/authorization or may be temporarily re-located from another country (e.g., a natural disaster has forced a community evacuation).

Visitors are not eligible for Ontario Works unless they have made a claim for refugee protection or applied for status as a permanent resident under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

Where a spouse is a visitor, and has not made a claim for refugee protection or applied for status as a permanent resident, they are included in the benefit unit as a non-compliant member (see Directive 6.13 Calculating reduced assistance for more information).

The income and assets of the non-compliant member is still included in the calculation of assistance for the benefit unit.

Convention refugees

Convention refugees are selected by the federal Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) based on the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Convention refugees may be sponsored by either the federal government or a private sponsor (e.g., community group) and are provided with resettlement assistance.

Individuals who are selected as convention refugees while residing outside of Canada are conferred landed immigrant status upon their arrival. Resettlement assistance is arranged by the federal government through the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP), the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program (PSR) or the Joint Assistance Sponsorship Program (JAS).

Convention refugees are not eligible for Ontario Works during the period in which they are eligible for the RAP or the PSR and JAS programs. When the sponsorship/eligibility period for RAP expires or the private sponsorship concludes or breaks down, a convention refugee may be eligible for Ontario Works.

In-Country refugee claimants

Individuals who wish to make a refugee claim from within Canada can do so either at a port of entry or in-land at a local Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office.

Individuals who apply for refugee protection at a port of entry (e.g., airport) may have their claim immediately assessed by a border services officer for referral to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). Individuals whose claims are determined eligible for referral to the IRB will be provided with a Refugee Protection Claimant Document (IMM 1442).

In some cases, individuals making a claim at a port of entry may be authorized to enter Canada for further examination. In these cases, individuals are provided with an appointment to have their claim reviewed by an immigration officer on a future date.

Individuals making an in-land refugee claim must contact a local IRCC office to schedule an appointment for their claim to be reviewed.

In-Country (in-land and port of entry) refugee claimants with official documentation confirming they have made a claim for refugee protection are eligible for Ontario Works effective the date they initiated their claim with an immigration officer. Official documentation includes:

  • 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)

In cases where an individual has a future appointment scheduled with the IRCC to determine if their claim is eligible for referral to the IRB, the status of their claim must be verified one week (five working days) after their scheduled appointment with an immigration officer.


Deportees are individuals who are under removal orders, (i.e., departure, deportation, or exclusion orders) and who must leave the country within a specified period of time

Deportees may be eligible for Ontario Works only in situations where:

  • a pre-removal risk assessment is pending
  • the removal order has been stayed
  • the individual has made an application to stay in Canada for humanitarian, compassionate or other reasons under the authority of the IRPA
  • the removal order cannot be carried out for reasons entirely beyond the control of the individual, such as:
  • travel documentation and arrangements are delayed or have not been finalized by the IRCC
  • IRCC has determined that the safety of the deportee cannot be assured in the home country due to strife or political unrest
  • criminal charges have been laid, but not yet heard

Convention refugees/protected persons, permanent residents, and temporary residents who have been in Canada for at least 18 months, are eligible to apply for the Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) and the Canada Child Benefit (CCB). They may also be eligible for the Transition Child Benefit (TCB) provided they meet the criteria for that benefit (i.e., not receiving the OCB and/or the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) or are receiving less than the maximum amount under either) and are otherwise eligible for Ontario Works (see Directive 7.6: Transition Child Benefit for more information).

In a shared custody situation, 50% of the monthly TCB will be provided to each parent, as long as they share custody and are not eligible for the CCB/OCB (see Directive 3.9: Dependent children for more information).