Ontario Works Discretionary Health Benefits

If you're a Niagara resident receiving Ontario Works or Ontario Disability benefits, financial help is available for essential health and housing stability items and services.

The program includes Discretionary Health Benefits, Housing Stability Benefits, and an Emergency COVID-19 Benefit.

Discretionary Health Benefits

Discretionary Health Benefits support necessary health and safety needs and must:

  • Be approved before purchasing an item or service
  • Include one estimate outlining the cost for each item or service requested
  • Include medical verification (letter) to support requests for medical necessities

Health-related services and items include:

  • Air conditioners
  • Appliances (fridge and stove only)
  • Beds and cribs
  • Breast pumps
  • Cleaning costs to prevent eviction due to hoarding
  • Electric hospital beds for persons confined to a bed to prevent bedsores
  • Furniture delivery fees due to a move
  • Replacement of household items in emergency situations such as fire or flood
  • Orthotics
  • Utility disconnections (must access Niagara Emergency Energy Fund first)
  • Emergency dental services and dentures

Assistive Devices Program

The Assistive Devices Program must be used first for all eligible items. If you're receiving Ontario Works, you may qualify to receive the remaining balance.

For more information, contact the Assistive Devices Program at 1-800-268-6021.

Apply Online for Benefits

Apply online for health and housing stability benefits. If you can't apply online, there are other ways you can apply.

If you're receiving Ontario Works benefits, contact your casemanager directly to request Housing Stability Benefits.

Apply for discretionary health benefits

Video: Benefits Portal

Learn how the portal works.

Emergency COVID-19 Benefit

Funding is available to help pay for things like cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment or food due to COVID-19. Eligibility is based on identified emergency needs and is for those who aren't in receipt of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.

This benefit is a monthly payment of $100 for individuals and $200 per couple / family for up to three months (May, June and July 2020).  If the benefit was received in March/April, it will automatically extend for three months if you're eligible for Ontario Works benefits and not in receipt of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.

To apply:

  • Ontario Works clients - apply online or call 905-641-9960 ext. 6072
  • Ontario Disability Support clients - contact your program casemanager

Housing Stability Benefits

Housing Stability Benefits help to cover overdue rent payments, moving or storage costs, or last month's rent.

Individuals or couples are eligible for a maximum of $900 per calendar year. Families with children are eligible for a maximum of $1600 per calendar year.

Requests for Housing Stability Benefits must be:

  • Approved before you pay to secure or maintain housing
  • Received no later than 30 days after your moving date

This benefit may be considered if you're homeless, in an emergency shelter, or moving due to:

  • Family violence
  • Incapacity or death of a supporting caregiver or family member
  • Overcrowding
  • Employment or training opportunities
  • A move to more affordable accommodations
  • Eviction
  • Uninhabitable premises where there is risk to health and safety
  • Significant personal health issues
  • Discharge from institutions, such as correctional facilities, hospitals, long-term care homes, interval and transition homes

How to Apply

  • Apply online
  • Call 905-641-9960 ext. 6072
  • Fax your application to 905-984-8760
  • Mail your application to the Ontario Works Discretionary Benefit Team at 234 Bunting Rd., St. Catharines, L2R 6Z4

Discretionary Benefits Portal

The portal is fast, easy and secure way to apply online for discretionary and housing stability benefits. You can apply anytime, anywhere and on any device.

To register, you must have a valid email address. Once registered, you can:

  • Track the status of all your current and past applications
  • Upload documents needed for your application, such as estimates or medical verification
  • Get automatic email updates on your application status
  • See details about missing information or eligibility decisions
  • Apply for multiple items in one application
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