I'm under 18, how can I apply for Ontario Works (welfare)?

OW can help you with your day-to-day needs. To apply, visit an OW office and speak to a case worker.

What is Ontario Works and how do I qualify?

If you need money and are 16 or 17 years old you might qualify for Ontario Works (OW). This type of assistance is meant to help you with your day-to-day needs like rent, food, clothing, and prescription drugs.

To check your eligibility and apply, you will need to visit an OW office and speak to a case worker who will review the following to determine if you quality:

  • Your parents won't let you live at home or you are in danger (physical or emotional abuse) 
  • Your parents cannot or will not support you financially
  • You are willing to enrol in a program or school approved by OW or find work (unless you have a serious medical condition or special circumstances stopping you from doing so)

Ontario Works may also require you to go to family counselling if your parents agree to participate.

Where do I start?

Contact your local OW office to apply for social assistance. You can find a list of Ontario Works offices across the province at the Ministry of Community and Social Services website.

Or, you can call ServiceOntario:

Toll-free: 1-800-267-8097
Toll-free TTY: 1-800-268-7095
In Toronto: 416-326-1234
In Toronto TTY: 416-325-3408

How do I apply?

You’ll need to visit your local OW office and have an interview with a case worker.
An OW worker will ask you for information to show that you qualify for assistance. You will also have to complete and sign a form required by OW.

You will need to bring the following to the appointment:

  • Any documents that relate to your application
  • At least one piece of identification, if possible
  • A document that proves you are in school or a training program

NOTE: Once your claim is approved, OW will not pay you the money directly. In most cases you will need to appoint a ‘trustee” (an adult of your choice who will accept the money on your behalf).

By law, OW cannot refuse to take your application. If this happens, ask to speak to a supervisor and insist that they take your application. If there is still a problem, contact your community legal clinic immediately.