UPDATES – MAY 2020
Beginning in May, Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program will no longer issue physical cheques to recipients. You will need to contact your caseworker to get payments via reloadable card or direct deposit.
Payments will no longer be suspended because of a recipient’s failure to report income.
The Eligibility Verification Process reviews are also on hold.
BIST can help. Please call: 416-830-1485.
The Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) is an Emergency Benefit for those who have lost their income due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
It provides a TAXABLE benefit of up to $2,000 per month, for up to four months. This program launched at the beginning of April, 2020.
Please remember the CERB is TAXABLE. It is a good idea to save about $170 per CERB cheque which you will need to pay back at tax time next year (April 2021).
People on OW or ODSP can access the CERB ONLY if they have lost income due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Otherwise, OW / ODSP recipients are NOT ELIGIBLE for this benefit.
If you have questions as to whether or not you qualify for this benefit please call your OW/ODSP worker or BIST and we will help you find the information.
Warning for OW and ODSP Recipients
Applicants are being quickly processed for the CERB.
Some people who have applied for the CERB, who are not eligible for it, have received funds in error. At some point, people who have received funds they were not entitled to are going to be required to pay the money back.
If you are on OW or ODSP and HAVE NOT lost employment income due to COVID-19 you ARE NOT ELIGIBLE for this benefit.
If you have received a CERB cheque you think you are not entitled to, BIST can help. Call: 416-830-1485.
Information on paying back the CERB for those who were not entitled to it is also available, HERE.
ODSP / OW Discretionary Benefit
There is a new discretionary benefit for Ontario Works / ODSP clients to access money for extra expenses due to the pandemic, such as face masks or gloves for those who need them. It is $100.00 for a single person, and $200.00 for a family or couple.
To apply, you need to call your local office and wait on hold until you get through to a person (be prepared to wait a long time). When a worker picks up, they will take your name and client number, and then arrange for the benefit to be deposited in your account.
NEW This Benefit has been extended through to May, June & July. You only need to apply for this benefit once, and you will automatically receive it for the rest of the months the benefit will be issued.
To apply for the benefit, call your local ODSP or OW Office. Find the phone number HERE
If you can’t get through to our ODSP Office, call the Main Number for ODSP: 416-531-6001 and they may be able to help.
You can also call BIST for assistance: 416-830-1485 and we can make the call on your behalf.
Emergency Housing Needs
ODSP and OW recipients may be able to access money for emergency housing needs through the City of Toronto’s Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF). People who are eligible are:
- Homeless and leaving an emergency shelter or the street
- Housed and moving within the GTA because of domestic violence, fire/flood or to accommodate a change in family size
- Housed and moving within the GTA due to a high rent situation or eviction
- Housed and dealing with bed bugs and/or owing rent or hydro costs To access these funds for an emergency housing need, talk to your caseworker
Other COVID-19 Benefits
Where to get to information on other benefits you may be entitled to
Here are three ways to easily access information on financial assistance options:
Corona Support is a 3-Minute Survey which lets you know what you are entitled to. Take the survey, HERE.
CBC News has created an online guide to benefits you may be entitled to, HERE.
Steps to Justice has created an online chart to benefits, updated in late May 2020, HERE.
There have been many community responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and a small amount of funds may be available to you from other community sources. You can find out about these sources of funds, HERE (scroll down to Community Support Funds for Vulnerable and Low-Income GTA Populations).
BIST can help. Please call: 416-830-1485.