Earnings Exemptions

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Earnings Exemptions encourage recipients to work and to participate in paid training programs by allowing them, their spouses and dependent adults to earn income and still receive an amount of financial assistance. This is also to ensure that applicants and recipients receive the financial incentives that will assist in their transition to sustainable employment.

How Does it Work?

To say it plainly – You must declare every cent that you earn. Recipients are required to be in receipt of social assistance for three continuous months before the earnings exemptions apply. When you receive earnings from employment or a paid training allowance, you declare the total gross amount on your monthly income statement. Your caseworker will then input this gross amount and our computer program is used to calculate mandatory payroll deductions (EI, Income Tax, CPP, Union Dues) and ensures an accurate determination of net earnings. The 50% earnings exemption is then applied to the net earnings or training income. The 50% earnings exemption applies to both full-time and part-time monthly earnings and training income. After the exemption has been deducted from your net pay, the remainder is what is deducted from your monthly social assistance cheque. If there are daycare costs that are required to allow you to work, they may also be deducted from your net income. Check with your caseworker regarding the maximum accounts which can be claimed.

A Note On Job Searching

When you are employed full time and you are receiving a ‘top up’ to your earnings, it is your ongoing responsibility to seek full time employment that will provide you with enough income so that you will no longer require social assistance. It is always your responsibility to do whatever you can to become self-sufficient. If you work on a part time basis, you are expected to actively search for full time employment and will be required to provide verification to your efforts. If one adult in the family is at home with pre-school dependant children, they are encouraged to look for part time work during the evenings and weekends. Once all children are in attendance at school, they will be responsible to conduct full time job search. Again, our goal is to help you reach self sufficiency. The Ontario Works Assistance Act and Regulations state that you cannot be unemployed due to circumstances within your control. If you are employed and quit your job without a just cause or are fired for reasons that are justified by your employer, you will be ineligible for Ontario Works Assistance for a period of three to six months. It is extremely important that you discuss any plans to leave a job with your Case Worker, BEFORE you do. If you are in a situation where you are being harassed, working in conditions below the Labour Board’s standard, not receiving your pay or have truly justified reasons for leaving, your eligibility may not be affected. The same is true if you are fired and your employer did not have justified reasons for doing so. Try to speak to your Case Worker before leaving a job whenever possible.