Ontario’s Emergency Assistance Program

Ontario’s Emergency Assistance Program

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated December 10, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the financial health of millions of Canadians. People have lost their jobs and entrepreneurs are seeing their businesses being shuttered because of lockdowns and other restrictions to help curb the spread. 

But luckily, the government has created a number of financial assistance programs to help bail Canadians out of financial ruin. 

In Ontario, the provincial government has established Emergency Assistance for those who are in a financial crisis or an emergency situation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Without enough funds needed to cover the necessities of life — like food and shelter — Canadians in dire need of financial help can get assisstance from the Ontario Emergency Assistance program.

If you live in Ontario and have found yourself in an urgent situation, you may qualify for Emergency Assistance.

What is The Ontario Emergency Assistance Program?

The Emergency Assistance plan was put in place to cover certain expenses that need to be paid for right away, such as groceries and rent or mortgage payments. If you qualify for this program, the amount you may be eligible for will be based on your particular situation. 

For the most part, you may qualify for $733 per month as a single person in need of financial assistance to pay for food and shelter. If you have children, you may qualify for a higher amount. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may receive assistance for up to 48 days. 

Anyone looking for more than 48 days worth of financial support may apply for Ontario Works. 

Need help with rent, check out the deferral program for rent.

How to Qualify For Ontario Emergency Assistance

To qualify for Emergency Assistance in Ontario, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Live in Ontario
  • Are in a financial crisis 
  • Don’t have enough money to pay for food and housing
  • Are not already receiving assistance from Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program

The COVID-19 pandemic has put many Ontario residents in a desperate situation after jobs have been lost and businesses have had to close. This situation has left many with bills to pay but not enough money to pay them. 

Perhaps you lost your job because of COVID-19, for instance, and maybe getting evicted from your home because of your inability to pay your rent or mortgage. Or maybe you are trying to get out of an abusive relationship because you’re concerned for your safety, but don’t have the financial means to make the move. 

In these cases, the funds received from the Emergency Assistance program can help ensure that you have a roof over your head and food to eat without being in harm’s way. 

Having trouble saving money, check out this guide on budgeting.

How to Apply For Emergency Assistance

Applying for Emergency Assistance can be done either online or by contacting your local Ontario Works location. Only one application is required for yourself and your immediate family.

To apply online, take the following steps:

1. Submit the required information along with your application. When you apply for Emergency Assistance, you’ll need to provide a few pieces of important information, including:

  • Your personal information and that of your immediate family
  • Your bank account information to receive payment (if you choose direct deposit)
  • Your housing costs
  • Your total household income
  • A list of available assets 

2. Wait for your application to be reviewed. Someone from the local Ontario Works office will assess your application. After review, you will be contacted within 4 business days after applying. If required, you may be asked to supply supplemental information and documentation to verify your application, such as copies of certain bills. 

Once your Ontario Works office has reviewed your application and verified that they have all the information they require, they will let you know whether or not you have been approved for Emergency Assistance and how much you qualify to receive. 

3. Receive your eligible payment. If your application is approved, you will receive payment shortly afterward. If you request to be paid by cheque, you will receive payment within 7 business days by mail. If you request to be paid by direct deposit — after supplying your bank account information — you will receive payment within 2 business days. 

Final Thoughts

This is a trying time for many Canadians, and while many are still able to make ends meet, others are not. For those who can’t gather up enough money to pay for life’s bare necessities, the Ontario Emergency Assistance program may help.


Rating of 4/5 based on 2 votes.

Lisa has been working as a writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same. She's used a variety of financial tools over the years and is currently growing her money with Wealthsimple, while stashing some capital in a liquid high-interest savings account so that she always has a financial cushion to fall back on. She's also been avidly using her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect as many Aeroplan points as possible to put towards her travels!

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