How Can I Get Emergency Financial Assistance in Ontario?

Adamson & Associates, Inc.
6 min readDec 15, 2020

You’re in the middle of a money crisis and you need emergency financial assistance right now. Maybe you or someone you care for has Covid-19 or been exposed to it. You may be between jobs or out of work for the moment. Perhaps you’re looking for a rent assist program as you can’t find a place to stay, like, yesterday. But with too many expenses and not enough income, what can you do? If only you had enough money to get you through until life starts to normalize once again.

There are a slew of options out there from payday loans to Ontario Works. But which is the right financial support option for you? You may not be sure what to do, but one thing is certain. You need to do something. Forget the payday loan.

Fortunately, Ontario has emergency help available. You may have heard that you can only get emergency help for 16 days. That’s changed. Due to revisions to Ontario’s Emergency Assistance Program, you can now receive financial help for up to 48 days. You can do this without ever having to complete the full Ontario Works application, giving you a month and a half to get back on your feet.

Who is eligible for emergency financial help?

Specifically, emergency assistance is intended for Ontario residents who don’t have enough money for necessities, such as food, housing and utilities. This may have occurred due to Covid-19, but it could also be because you are fleeing an abusive relationship or have to leave your current living situation, for whatever reason. If you think that you will only require help for a month or so, emergency assistance could be for you.

What if I am already receiving Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support?

If you are already receiving Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support, you will not be able to apply for emergency assistance. In most instances, you will not receive any more money than you will with Ontario Works. If you are receiving government money already and you’re still having trouble meeting your expenses, speak to your OW worker. They can provide you with the names of other programs, for example, a local food bank, church or charitable organization such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul that may be able to help.

What kind of help is available?

As a single person, you can receive up to $733 a month. If you have dependents, you’ll receive more. If you think you’ll need longer-term financial help, consider Ontario Works.

How do I apply?

Gather the information you need in advance and the online application should take about 20 minutes. Make sure you have the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Edge browser. In addition to personal details for you and your family members, such as SIN and health card number, you’ll also need to gather your:

  • Housing costs
  • Total income
  • Available assets
  • Bank account information for direct deposit

You can also apply in person at an Ontario Works office. However, if you can avoid going to the office during the pandemic, please do. Also, keep in mind that office hours may be reduced.

Is CERB still available?

CERB, the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, was originally intended to provide relief during the Covid-19 crisis. It has expired, however, on October 3, 2020, and no longer accepts new applicants. Fortunately, the Canada Revenue Agency came to the rescue with a six month extension.

The extension, called CRB, provides even better coverage than the original benefit. Under CERB, you could not earn more than $1,000 during the period for which you were claiming the benefit. This policy, however, appeared to disincentivize people from returning to work that paid less than $2,000 a month. Now, you need to have only halved your income due to Covid-19 to qualify for CRB.

CRB is an excellent emergency relief option if you anticipate that your financial difficulties could persist beyond a couple of weeks. Also, if you’ve endured a layoff or work slowdown because of Covid-19 in the past and now find yourself struggling because of it, you could be eligible for CRB benefits.

CRB is available to those who have lost their job due to Covid-19 and are not covered by Employment Insurance, workers’ compensation, disability benefits, sick pay or caregiver leave. The payment remains the same as it was under the previous program: $500 a week or $2,000 a month. You can apply for CRB even if you are working. This is helpful for self-employed and contract employees. In addition, the applicant must have:

  • Earned $5,000 in the year prior to application
  • Suffered an income reduction of at least half
  • Have a valid SIN
  • Be at least age 15

You can apply after the end of a two-week period during which you are eligible. In fact, you have up to 60 days to apply for benefits for this time period. So, if you were out of work or working reduced hours in the past 60 days, you can apply now. Remember, if your income dropped by half you can apply for CRB. But keep in mind that if you make over $38,000 for the year, you will repay 50 percent of your income in excess of $38,000 up to the maximum CRB received. If your earnings exceed $46,000, you repay all of the CERB received. Let’s look at a few examples:

Example 1:
You make $42,000 a year and receive $3,000 in CRB payments.
You have exceeded the maximum earnings of $38,000 by $4,000.
You would repay 50 percent of $4,000 or $2,000 when you file your income taxes.

Example 2:
You make $47,000 a year and receive $3,000 in CRB payments.
You have exceeded the maximum earnings of $46,000 to receive CRB.
You would repay the entire $3,000.

Example 3:
You make $45,000 a year and receive $2,500 in CRB payments.
You have exceeded the maximum earnings of $38,000 by $7,000.
You would repay 50 percent of $7,000.
Although 50 percent in $3,500, you received $2,500 which is what you repay.

Remember, in order to take advantage of CRB, you must:

  • Reapply every two weeks
  • Wait to apply until after you’ve missed (or had reduced hours) for two weeks
  • Apply within 60 days after the end of the applicable period
  • Have left the job involuntarily, i.e., you were fired or laid off

After you examine these options, you may decide that emergency financial assistance will solve your temporary money problems for good. Of course, you’ll want to practice good financial hygiene and stick to some solid money management habits that will keep you on track in the future. But what if your money troubles go much deeper than a one-time fix? The end goal is not to simply solve your problem this month. Rather, you need a long-term solution that fits your life.

During this period of economic turmoil and quite often due to circumstances beyond their control, many people find themselves with more debt than they can comfortably handle. If this is your situation, you may think that bankruptcy is the only option. It is one of your choices, but it’s certainly not the only one.

Speak to one of our Licensed Insolvency Trustees at Adamson & Associates. We understand that life can deal some unexpected blows. We’re here to listen and help you put together a real plan to regain control over your life and your finances.

An LIT is the only person licensed by the Federal Government of Canada to file a consumer proposal on your behalf that can significantly reduce your debt, or, if needed, a bankruptcy which will eliminate your debt altogether. Call us today at 519–310-JOHN (5646) to set up your free, no-obligation consultation.

Originally published at on December 15, 2020.



Adamson & Associates, Inc.

Licensed Insolvency Trustee. Experts in bankruptcy, consumer proposals, credit counselling, and other debt solutions in Ontario.