Immigration Status & Social Assistance

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

Persons who are verified as family-class immigrants, in-country refugee claimants, Convention refugees, deportees, or applicants for permanent residence in Canada may be eligible for assistance provided all other eligibility criteria are met.

Emergency Income Support for Ukrainians in Ontario

Ukrainians in Ontario, under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel Initiative (CUAET), are eligible to apply for Emergency Assistance funding. This funding provides temporary financial support for basic needs and shelter in crisis situations and can potentially issue income support every 48 days.

If you do not have enough money for food, medications or housing costs, you may qualify for Emergency Assistance.

Family-Class Immigrants & Convention Refugee Claimants

Family-class immigrants and convention refugee claimants are sponsored immigrants. Applicants who are sponsored immigrants must access resources available from their sponsors and must have exhausted all other financial resources with respect to the provisions under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) before eligibility for financial assistance is considered.

Family-Class Immigrants

Family-class immigrants are sponsored by eligible relatives who reside in Canada. In these cases, the sponsor signs an undertaking to the federal government to look after the needs of the sponsored family member(s) for varying lengths of time. The family class sponsorship agreement is between the Government of Canada, the sponsor and the sponsored immigrant, and includes the following documents:

Undertaking: signed by the sponsor (and co-signer, where applicable). The sponsor commits to the Government of Canada that they will look after the needs of the sponsored immigrant and their dependent(s) as applicable.

Sponsorship agreement: signed by the sponsor (and co-signer, where applicable) and the sponsored immigrant. The sponsor commits to provide the basic requirements for daily living for the sponsored immigrant and their dependent(s) included in the undertaking. The agreement includes a promise that the sponsored immigrant and their dependents will not need to apply for social assistance. As part of the agreement, the sponsored immigrant consents to the release of information to the sponsor (or co-sponsor, where applicable) concerning social assistance that the sponsored immigrant or their dependents applied for or received during the undertaking period.

The sponsor's financial obligation depends upon several factors, including the relationship and age of the sponsored individual, as well as the legislation in place at the time Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) processed the original application. The following chart summarizes the length of time a sponsor must provide for the basic requirements of the sponsored person.

Convention Refugees

Convention refugees are not eligible for Ontario Works during the period in which they are eligible for other Federal programs such as the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP), the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program (PSR) and the Joint Assistance Sponsorship Program (JAS).

When federal programming eligibility periods for RAP expire or the private sponsorship concludes or is broken down, a convention refugee may be eligible for Ontario Works.

In-Country Refugee Claimants

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 This eligibility is effective the date they initiated their claim with an Immigration Officer. Official documentation includes:

  • Refugee Protection Claimant Document (IMM-1442)
  • Acknowledgment of Claim and Notice to Return for Interview Form
  • Entry for Further Examination or Admissibility Hearing Form
  • Acknowledgment of Conditions Form (IMM-1262)


Deportees are individuals who are under removal orders (i.e. departure, deportation, or exclusion orders) and 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 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (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, the IRCC has determined that the safety of the deportee cannot be assured in the home country due to strife or political unrest or criminal charges have been laid, but not yet heard.

Permanent Resident

A permanent resident is someone who has been given permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada but is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents are citizens of other countries. A person in Canada temporarily, like a student or foreign worker, is not a permanent resident. 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).

Visit our Applying for Social Assistance page for information on how to apply. For questions or help applying for any of our social assistance programs, call 519-351-8573.