Social Assistance

Service Area

Social Assistance

What is this Service?

Municipalities provide mandated employment and financial assistance to eligible residents under the provincial Ontario Works (OW) program. 

Basic financial assistance helps with the cost of food and shelter, drugs and other exceptional needs. Employment assistance helps participants in obtaining skills that support progress toward sustainable employment and includes assisted job search, volunteering, job-specific skills training, self-employment activity and employment placement. The province assists with the cost of client benefits and program administration.

Specific objectives include:

  • Basic needs for food and shelter
  •  Employment and training-related supports
  • Health-related supports (e.g. basic dental, prescription medication, vision care)

Influencing Factors:

  • Client Profile:  The nature of a caseload includes transient clients, those clients moving on and off the caseload from precarious work situations, as well as clients who are receiving assistance for extended periods of time.  Caseload turnover significantly impacts administrative support provided to meet program demand.
  • Demographics:  Populations with limited or no English language skills, and the case mix and size of families vs. individuals, all impact service needs and cost.
  • Economic Conditions:  Economic conditions impact all measures.  The cost of living, between municipalities, will affect a number of measures.
  • Employability:  Clients with one or more barriers to employment including lack of education and skills, little or no work experience and/or no Canadian work experience. Systemic barriers also impact some individual’s ability to find and sustain employment (e.g., pardons, affordable transportation).
  • Organizational Form:  Staff caseloads and the degree of support provided that differ between municipalities.   Functions of direct client services may be contracted out in some municipalities.
  • Urban Form:  Office location, the availability of public transit, and the method of accessibility i.e. the availability of an intake screening unit (ISU) or a telephone application centre.