Ontario Works Program

What is Ontario Works?

Ontario Works provides money for food, shelter, and other costs to people in financial need who meet the eligibility criteria.


To be eligible for Ontario Works in St. Thomas and Elgin County you need to:

  • Live in St. Thomas or Elgin County

  • Be in financial need (you do not have enough money to meet basic living expenses)

  • Be willing to find or keep a job (unless you have medical or other special circumstances)


How can Ontario Works help me?

If you are eligible, you’ll receive a monthly payment for your basic needs and shelter costs. The amount of money that you will receive from Ontario Works will depend on:

  •  Family size
  •  Housing cost
  •  Other income you may be receiving 


Other Benefits you May Receive:

If you are eligible for Ontario Works, you could also receive drug, dental and other benefits. Your caseworker will explain to you the benefits that are available. Your caseworker will also connect you to other community services to assist to help you move ahead, prepare for a job, or find employment. They may also be able to help you become or stay housed.  


Applying for Ontario Works:

You can apply for Ontario Works anytime at Ontario.ca/socialassistance

  • You must have an email address for all family members 18 or over to use the online application
  • Once you have completed the online application, please allow 4 days for processing 

Do not use the online application if:

  • You are in an emergency situation
  • Are a caregiver for a child for which you do not have a legal responsibility to care for


Other ways to apply:

By phone 1-800-265-4362

If you do not have access to a phone please visit our office located at 230 Talbot Street, St. Thomas

Before you start: 

Make sure all family members included in your application are with you when you apply so they can provide their consent and confirm their information.
Have your family’s identification and banking documents ready, such as:

  •  social insurance numbers (SIN)
  •  OHIP cards
  •  birth certificates
  •  immigration papers
  •  banking information

You will be asked to provide the following information for you, and your family:

  • full names, dates of birth and status in Canada
  •  address
  •  email and phone number (if applicable)
  •  housing costs
  •  total monthly income and assets
  • other expenses, such as child care
  • bank account information (if you have one) to get your payment quickly through direct bank deposit

Regardless of how you apply, your caseworker will contact you to schedule an appointment to review your application, let you know if there is information  you need to provide; like copies of bills or other documents and to verify the information included in your application. They will also work with you to develop a plan for you to access community services or participate in employment-related activities, unless you have specific circumstances that prevent this, such as an illness or caregiving responsibilities. 


Where to find more information:  

You can find more information about social assistance on the Ministry of Children Community and Social Services website. You can also contact St. Thomas-Elgin Social Services at 1-800-265-4362 or visit us at 230 Talbot Street, St. Thomas.