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Ontario Works & Volunteering

As a condition of eligibility for Ontario Works basic financial assistance, participants are required to participate in employment assistance activities. In addition, participants are required to make reasonable efforts to accept and maintain employment that the participant is physically and mentally capable of undertaking, and to make reasonable efforts to seek, accept and maintain employment.

Ontario Works employment assistance activities are designed to assist participants in obtaining skills that support progress towards sustainable employment. All applicants and participants are provided with access to the supports they need to achieve these goals.

Supports are also provided to ODSP non-disabled adults with participation requirements; and, to ODSP recipients, spouses and dependent adults who do not have participation requirements but have voluntarily requested to participate in Ontario Works employment assistance activities.


Employment assistance activities and supports include:

  • Structured job search and job search support services;
  • Employment information session;
  • Community participation (i.e., activities that allow people to contribute to the community and improve their employability);
  • Employment placement and job retention services;
  • self-employment activity and supports for self-employment development;
  • Referral to basic education or approved training programs;
  • Learning, Earning and Parenting (LEAP) program;
  • Literacy screening, assessment and/or training job-specific skills training;
  • Screening for substance abuse and referral to assessment and treatment if necessary (sites participating in this activity must be approved by the Director of Ontario Works).


Volunteering Can Help You Get Job Experience

Volunteering can help you get employment-related experience, learn new skills and meet people who may help with career opportunities.

If you are thinking about volunteering or looking for a place to volunteer, you may want to consider:

  • What skills you want to learn,
  • What your employment goals are, and
  • How much time you have to volunteer.

If you are receiving Ontario Works or ODSP benefits and your volunteering is approved as an Ontario Works activity you may be able to receive help with costs through your Employment and Social Services Centre. However, to be assessed for extra financial benefits, here are some things you should know:

  • Your volunteer activity should support your employment goal.
  • Volunteering must be with a non-profit organization.
  • The maximum number of hours for volunteering is 70 per month.
  • Volunteer activities are approved for up to six months; however this may be extended in some circumstances.
  • In most cases, you must be at least 18 years of age.

To be assessed for extra financial benefits, you can obtain a Volunteer Details form from your caseworker. You can ask the agency to fill it out and give your caseworker the completed form for review.

For more information, talk to your Ontario Works caseworker or your ODSP income support worker, or go to an Employment and Social Services Centre



City of Toronto - Employment and Social Services

Ontario Works Policy Directives


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