Income Support

Your Legal Rights


Ontario Works

What is Ontario Works?

Ontario Works (OW) is also called welfare. It provides monthly financial assistance and some drug/dental benefits to people who are looking for work, who can’t work, or who are working but earning very little money.

Need welfare? How to apply to Ontario Works

Participation Agreements and your Ontario Works assistance

Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)

What is ODSP?
ODSP is financial assistance for individuals who are disabled. Like Ontario Works, it provides monthly financial assistance, some drug/dental benefits, and some other benefits. In order to qualify for ODSP benefits you must meet ODSP’s definition of disabled and you must meet their financial eligibility guidelines.

How do I apply for ODSP?

  • If you are receiving Ontario Works, ask your worker for an application package.
  • If you are not receiving Ontario Works, call your local ODSP office. Northumberland County is served by the Central East ODSP Office in Peterborough. They can be contacted at 705-742-9292 or 1-800-663-8560.

Disability benefits in Ontario: Who can get them and how to apply

ODSP Applications: Information for Health Professionals


Ontario Works and ODSP deduct many types of income from your benefits.

Some examples of income include: wages, child support, loans, credit cards, OSAP, grants, employment insurance, CPP old age benefits, survivor’s benefits, etc.

Ontario Works and ODSP require you to report any income that you receive. There are a few types of income that are exempt such as non-economic loss awards.

Working while you are on social assistance

Child and spousal support when you are on social assistance

Social assistance rules about couples: What you need to know if you live with someone

Getting an inheritance when you are on Ontario disability benefits

Other Benefits

There are other benefits that you can access when you are receiving Ontario Works and/or ODSP such as:

Other Health Benefits

  • the cost of diabetic supplies and surgical supplies and dressings
  • the cost of transportation that is reasonably required for medical treatment if the cost of that transportation in the month is $15 or more
  • the amount required to pay for the consumer contribution for an assistive device under the Assistive Devices Program administered by the Ministry of Health, up to the amount approved under that program
  • if an assessment is required to determine eligibility for an assistive device under that program and there is no other source of funding
  • the cost of batteries and necessary repairs for mobility devices used by a member of the benefit unit
  • an amount equal to $39.15 for a vision assessment once every 24 months.

Other Health Benefits-ODSP

  • For ODSP recipients and members of their benefit unit except dependant adults:
    • dental services,
    • vision services, other than a periodic oculo-visual assessment
    • hearing services, and
    • items related to vision services and hearing services,

Note: The cost and the services and items have to be approved by ODSP in advance.

Guide Dog
Up to $78 for the care of the guide dog.

Employment Start-Up Benefit
Each adult member of a benefit unit who begins employment or an employment assistance activity is eligible for up to $500 for approved expenses in a 12-month period

Other Employment and Employment Assistance Activities Benefit
Up to $253 in any 12-month period for approved expenses necessary for an Ontario Works recipient to begin the new employment or activity.

Up Front Child Care
Up front costs may be approved to a maximum if a member of the benefit unit is working or involved in an employment-related activity.

Temporary Care Assistance
This assistance in for a child in the temporary care of an adult who is not obligated to support that child.

Transition Child Benefit
The Transition Child Benefit may be available to parents if they are not receiving the Ontario Child Benefit for their dependant child or they are receiving less than the maximum benefit. Some rules apply.

Discretionary Benefits
Both Ontario Works and ODSP recipients apply for discretionary benefits through their local Ontario Works Office. In Northumberland County this is Northumberland County Community and Social Services at 905-372-6846 or 1-800-354-7051.

Discretionary benefits can cover the cost of:

  • dental services.
  • one or more prosthetic appliances, including eye-glasses.
  • vocational training and retraining.
  • travel and transportation.
  • moving.
  • a funeral and burial and the extraordinary costs of transporting a deceased person.
  • Any other special service, item or payment authorized by the Director. Note: you would also apply for discretionary expenses to help may for a last month’s rent deposit or rent arrears.

Please note: discretionary benefits are not mandatory benefits. If denied, you should contact the Legal Centre for advice.

Discretionary Benefit-Energy Conservation-For ODSP Recipients Only
ODSP may pay a benefit to a recipient in an amount determined by ODSP for low-cost energy-conservation measures to the recipient’s principal residence. Must be approved in advance.

Benefits for ODSP Recipients Only

Work-Related Benefit
This is a $100 benefit for which you or your spouse are usually eligible in any month that you have earnings.

Other Benefits for ODSP
Recipients Living in Institutions ODSP can approve funding for transportation, dental services, dentures, prosthetic devices including eye glasses, clothing, wheelchairs and wheelchair accessories.

If you disagree with a decision by Ontario Works or ODSP

There is a process for appealing most decisions made by Ontario Works or ODSP. Some common decisions that you might want to appeal are:

  • a decision to deny you Ontario Works or ODSP benefits;
  • a decision to suspend or cancel your benefits;
  • a decision to assess an overpayment on your file;
  • a decision to reduce or make deductions from your benefits;
  • a decision to deny you a specific benefit.

Usually, when OW or ODSP makes a decision, they will send you a letter about it. If they don’t send you a letter you can start the appeal process based on verbal notice or based on your cheque stub.

Internal Reviews
The first step in the appeal process is to request an internal review. This is usually done by filing out a form that says you disagree with the decision and sending it to the office that made the decision. You can access an Internal Review Request form by clicking on the link below.

You have 30 days to submit an Internal Review Request from when you should have received it (this means that it should be submitted within 33 days from the date on the decision letter or cheque stub). If you disagree with an older decision, you should contact the Legal Centre for advice. Depending on your circumstances and how long ago the decision was made, you may be able to request an extension of time.

If you are not able to resolve your issue at the Internal Review stage, you can file an appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT). This should be done within 30 days of receiving a letter responding to your Internal Review Request. If you do not get a response to your Internal Review Request within 30 days, you can file an SBT appeal. The SBT appeal form can be accessed by clicking on the link below.

Requests for Reconsideration
If you lose your appeal or your appeal is dismissed because you did not go to your hearing, you can make a request for reconsideration within 30 days. See form below.

Links & Forms

Internal Review Request Form

Social Benefits Tribunal Appeal Form

Reconsideration Form

Social Assistance Policy Directives-Ministry of Community and Social Services

Ontario Works Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 25, Sched. A

Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 25, Sched. B

Local Resources


Ontario Works
860 William Street
Cobourg, ON K9A 3A9
(905) 372-6846

Ontario Disability Support Program
360 George Street North
Peterborough, ON K9H 7E7
(705) 742-9292
TDD/TTY: (705) 742-7507

Service Canada
Employment Insurance
The Fleming Building
1005 Elgin Street West, Suite 103
Cobourg, ON K9A 5J4
(905) 372-3326

The Help Centre
(905) 372-2646

Salvation Army
66 Swayne Street
Cobourg, ON

Canada Pension Plan/OAS
1-800-277-9915 (French)


Transition House
10 Chapel Street
Cobourg, ON K9A 1H9
(905) 377-0378

Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre

Anishnaabe Kwewag Gamig Alderville’s Women’s Shelter
RR 4
Alderville, ON K0K 2X0
(905) 352-3708

The Salvation Army
(905) 373-9440


Fare Share Food Bank
Northam Industrial Park, Unit 17
Cobourg, ON K9A 4L3
Wed: 10am-1pm/6pm-8pm

Northumberland Food 4 ALL
133 Industrial Park Rd.
Colborne, ON
(905) 355-1973
Tues, Wed, Thurs: 10am-4pm

Hastings and Roseneath Ministerial Food
Bank *Closed last week of the month
50 Victoria Street
Hastings, ON K0L 1Y0
(705) 696-1105
Tues: 1pm-2:30/Wed. 7pm-8pm

Northumberland County Community & Social Services, Children’s Services, Community Outreach Program
*Link for families with children to feed, if they run short or have an emergency

Children’s Aid Society of Northumberland
*Provision of funds in emergency situations only. Food for families living in Northumberland County with children under 16 years of age
1005 Burnham Street
Cobourg, ON
(905) 372-1821

Kitchen of Hope: St. Mark’s Anglican Church
*Hot meal served weekly replaced by picnics in the summer.
51 King Street
Port Hope, ON
(905) 885-8313
Tues: 11:30am-1pm

Fare Share Food Bank: Campbellford and Warkworth
28 Doxsee Ave. South
Campbellford ON K0L 1L0
Wed: 10am-11:30am

Salvation Army at the Percy Heritage Centre in Warkworth
*Two days every month: second and fourth Thurs:

Colborne Food Bank
Colborne United Church
1 Church St. East
*Two days every month: second and fourth Tues: 9am-11am
(905) 355-3331 or (905) 355-1338

Brighton Fare Share
Corner of Prince Edward St. and Dundas St.
*Open last two Wed of the month: 9am to noon

Fare Share Food Bank: Port Hope
Port Hope United Church
34 South St.
Port Hope, ON
*Wed: 10am-12pm
(905) 885 6674

Community Works
Bewdley Optimist Club
Intersection: Lake St. and Main St.
*provides food and clothing
(905) 342-1146

Salvation Army at Free Methodist Church
73 Ranney Street
Campbellford, ON
*Friday 11am-1pm


*will help move
(905) 373-1558


Community Care
1005 Elgin Street West
Cobourg, ON K9A 5J4
(905) 372-7356

Beyond the Blue Box
14 Covert Street
Cobourg, ON
(905) 373-7202

Not sure the type of legal help you need?

Call our office and our staff will help to guide you. Our telephones are answered
every Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.

Phone us at: 905-373-4464 | Toll-free: 1-800-850-7882

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