Can I get emergency income help during COVID-19?

If COVID-19 has affected your , but you’re not in a financial emergency, you may be able to get Employment Insurance or the Canada Recovery Benefit.

Short-term benefits

If you have a financial emergency because of COVID-19, you may qualify for short-term income assistance. For example, you may qualify if you don’t have enough money to pay for food or housing.

How you apply for this short-term income assistance depends on whether you’re already getting income assistance from OW or ODSP.

Not getting OW or ODSP

If you’re not on OW or ODSP, you can apply for emergency income assistance using the Ontario government’s online tool. You can also call your local OW office to apply over the phone.

Getting OW or ODSP

If you’re getting OW or ODSP, you don’t qualify for emergency income assistance.

But you can apply for what are called discretionary benefits. You do this by contacting your OW or ODSP worker or calling your local OW or ODSP office. Your worker decides if you qualify for discretionary benefits.

In some situations, discretionary benefits might include expenses related to COVID-19, such as masks, cleaning products, or other items you need to keep you safe and healthy.

Emergency program that ended

You may have heard about people who were on OW or ODSP who got emergency COVID-19 benefits. That was a special COVID-19 emergency program that ended on July 31, 2020.

Now, if you’re already on OW or ODSP, the only way to get special income assistance because of COVID-19 is to apply for discretionary benefits.

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