The Government of Ontario released changes today to better support low-income persons and existing OW clients in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Included in these changes is:
- Suspending the rule that limits emergency assistance provision to only once in a six-month period for individuals and families affected by COVID-19;
- Allowing people to receive emergency assistance for longer (48 days) without submitting a full Ontario Works application;
- Plans to make discretionary benefits to support people in COVID-19 preparations, including cleaning supplies, transportation, food or clothing;
- Authorizing risk-based approaches to eligibility determination and other verification requirements, including deferral of visual verification requirements of original documents and allowing for the use of email or alternative methods to submit reports or documents;
- Modifying certain program requirements - including no longer suspending clients who do not report income and suspending Eligibility Verification Process reviews;
- Enabling program staff to approve extensions to Special Diet Allowance, Mandatory Special Necessities benefits and medical transportation/supplies without endorsement from a health professional.
They also plan to make funds available to other social services "to support their response to COVID-19. Shelters, food banks, charities and non-profits will have immediate access to flexible funding to help them cope with growing demands and extraordinary circumstances."
You can see the news release here: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/03/changes-to-ontarios-emergency-assistance-program-in-response-to-covid-19.html
We encourage you to please reach out to any of the staff here at ONWAA if you would like clarification or need assistance in any way. Staff phone numbers and emails are available on the Contact
page. We are open and here to support you!