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Ontario Works Changes Impact Young Adults

September 11, 2014 Poverty Reduction

Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY), a specialty legal clinic, reports that the Ontario Works Act has been amended.  One amendment will allow for earnings/assets exemptions for employment income of any adult member of a benefit unit who is attending high school full-time.

With this change, adult members attending high school full time can keep all of their employment earnings without reduction of benefits.  Also, these earnings will not be counted towards the benefit unit’s asset limit. In the past, this exemption only applied to those under 18 years of age.

This change to the Ontario Works Act (OW Reg 134/98) came about after some brief litigation and advocacy by JFCY.

Justice for Children and Youth believes that Ontario Works Offices across the province are not all aware of this change.  They may not be alerting recipients to the change.

“This exemption can lead to positive results for young sole recipients, allowing them to finish high school, apply for OSAP, get off O.W. and go on to post-secondary. We can imagine that it may also have positive results for members of O.W. benefit units as well…perhaps a small step towards breaking the cycle of poverty,” noted Andrea Luey, Staff Lawyer with JFCY.

Justice for Children and Youth specializes in protecting the rights of those facing conflicts with the legal system, education, social service or mental health systems.  Find out more about them at

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