Ontario Works (OW) / Welfare

The Ontario Works Program provides income and employment assistance for people who are in temporary financial need. In addition to financial help, clients may be eligible for drug and dental coverage, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and community and employment start-up benefits.

How We Can Help

West End Legal Services work in the area of Ontario Works law. We can assist clients with a variety of matters, including:

  • Appeals where a person has been denied benefits and there may be merit to appealing the denial of benefits.
  • Appeals where a person is on benefits but benefits are suspended.
  • Appeals where a large overpayment has been assessed and there may be merit to appealing the overpayment question.

For more information on Ontario Works please click here.

Services We Provide

We provide free legal advice on a number of legal topics to low income persons who meet our financial and geographic criteria.

If your question is a straightforward one, we may be able to help you over the phone. If it is a more complicated legal matter we will schedule an appointment for you to meet with one of our staff.

In addition to providing free legal advice, we offer free legal services and representation before courts and tribunals to low income persons who meet our eligibility and geographic criteria.

Areas of Law

We offer services in the following areas of law:

  • CPP Disability
  • Immigration
  • Ontario Works (OW)/Welfare
  • Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
  • Tenant Law
  • Workers Compensation (WSIB)

We do NOT work in the areas of criminal law or family law. For assistance with these matters you can call Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258.

Public Legal Education

To help make our clients aware of their legal rights and obligations, we offer free workshops on a variety of legal topics. Workshops can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your group. We also have a wide range of free pamphlets and other legal information available free at our office.

Twice a year we publish The Advocate, our clinic newsletter. This newsletter contains information about our areas of practice as well as what is new in the law and what events are happening in our community.

The latest three issues for downloading: Spring 2014Fall 2013 and Spring 2013.

Law Reform

Our law reform activities arise out of issues identified through an analysis of the clinic’s caseload as well as those identified by those served by the clinic. We work with the community and for the community to make changes to laws and government policies that will benefit our clients and society as a whole.

We lobby the various levels of government through written and oral submissions for changes to laws affecting low income individuals. We will also meet with government departments to improve their service delivery to poor and disadvantaged groups.

Q & A

Who Do We Help?

The clinic’s services are available, free of charge, to individuals who meet the following three criteria:

1. Our financial guidelines as set out by Legal Aid Ontario. You meet the financial guideline if your income is from Ontario Works or ODSP. In addition, you may meet the guideline if your income is from CPP or WSIB. You may also meet the guideline if you have a minimal working income.

2. Live in our geographic area (the area west of Holland and Fisher Avenue and to the western limits of the City of Ottawa).

3. Your legal problem concerns an area of law we deal with. You will be screened during your initial call to determine whether you meet the above criteria. If you do not qualify for services, in most cases we can offer you a referral to an individual or organization that may be able to assist you.

How Much Do Your Services Cost?

Our advice, information and services are free of charge to eligible individuals. If a client can afford to, we ask for reimbursement for the clinic’s disbursements. Disbursements are payments the clinic must pay on a client’s behalf and may include such things as doctor’s reports, interpreters and court filing fees.

How Do I Get Help?

Call our office and you will be asked a number of general questions including:

  • a brief description of your legal problem;
  • your name, current address and telephone number;
  • your combined family income; and
  • who referred you to our clinic.

A legal worker will return your call and give you legal advice, usually the same day.

What Should I Bring to my First Appointment?

  • Proof of your income, e.g. pay stub.
  • Any documents you have that are related to your legal matter, e.g. a letter or notice from your landlord, a letter from the government, or a decision by a government agency.

What if I do not Speak English or French?

If you speak a language other than English or French, you should bring a friend or who can translate for you.

Will Other People Know That I Have Come To You For Advice?

No. All dealings with our clients are kept strictly confidential.

Do you have Lawyers at Your Office?

Yes. We currently have four lawyers on staff, all of who are members of the Ontario bar. However, we also have Community Legal Workers or law students who are supervised by our lawyers who can give you legal advice or represent you at a court or tribunal hearing.

firstvisitWhat should I do to prepare my first visit to the Clinic?

Your Initial Call: When you first call our office, you will speak to someone in our front office. You will be asked general questions about the problem you are having. These questions might include where you live, your name, phone number, and how you found out about our services. Because we are funded by Legal Aid Ontario, you will be asked about your family income. If we determine that you qualify financially and that we can help you with your problem there will be no cost for our services.

If we cannot help you because we do not deal with your area of law, there are referrals we can give you. We also have a large selection of pamphlets and other legal education material and we would be happy to send these to you. Some days the volume of calls we get is overwhelming. If you get our voice mail, please make sure to leave your name and telephone number so that we can return your call.

Your First Appointment: Depending on the complexity of the legal problem, one of our intake workers will either help you over the phone or will schedule an appointment for you to come to the clinic. If the issue involves housing or social assistance or is for a statutory declaration you will probably be asked to come in.

Bring any relevant papers and documents to your appointment. These could be court documents, letters, doctors’ names, addresses and a list of your medications. Be prepared to provide us with proof of your income by bringing cheque stubs or direct deposit notes from your bank book.

On the day of your first appointment you will be asked to complete an intake sheet. You will be asked general information about you and your family. Once this is completed, a caseworker will meet with you and discuss your matter in private. Any information you give us remains confidential.

If English or French is not your first language please try to arrange to bring a friend or relative to your appointment to assist with the interpretation. If you do not have an interpreter with you we may have to reschedule your appointment. If you do not have anyone to interpret for you let us know before your appointment is booked. We will see if we can make alternative arrangements for you.