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Unemployed Employables


Single persons and couples who are employable must re-apply for income assistance monthly; employable people with one or more dependent children may be required to re-apply for income assistance every four months. Regulation 3.1, 3.2

A person whose only claim to Social Assistance is that he is unemployed may not be granted assistance unless he:
a) produces evidence of registration with the Canada Employment Centre;
NOTE : Canada Employment Centres no longer register clients for employment. However, social workers are expected to encourage their clients to visit a CEC to review available job listings and seek out potential employment opportunities within or outside their welfare district. Able-bodied applicants must continue to demonstrate that they are actively seeking employment, training or retraining. Policy 123.02

b) produces an itemized statement of his income for the preceding 3 months, verified where possible;

c) completes the application or forms for Social Assistance, furnishing evidence and proof of his claim. Regulation 21

An applicant in this category is not entitled to social assistance if, for the thirty (30) days preceding the date of his application for social assistance his net income exceeds the current social assistance rates for food, clothing and personal care, fuel, household maintenance and utilities plus the earnings exemption allowed under the Regulations but where the applicant and his family are occupying a rented apartment or rented house or where the applicant and his family are occupying a house owned by the applicant which is subject to a mortgage, an amount up to but not exceeding the rates specified in Social Assistance Regulations may be added. Regulation 22

An applicant who is not entitled to social assistance in accordance with the above conditions may be reconsidered on the date on which his income during the past thirty days has decreased to the level stated above. Regulation 22(1)

Prince Edward Island

Assistance will not be granted to an employable person until the Director is satisfied that the applicant or beneficiary

a) is unemployed due to circumstances beyond his control;

b) is willing to undertake employment for which he is capable;

c) is making reasonable effort to secure such employment including active registration with local employment agencies;

d) can provide, upon request, written confirmation that he has been actively seeking employment; and

e) is willing to accept training offered through the Department. Regulation 7(1)

Where an applicant has voluntarily terminated his employment or absented himself from employment, the Director shall refuse to grant assistance. Regulation 7(3)

In any new assessment or review, the level of employability of the applicant or client is determined so that the most appropriate placement or rehabilitative resources may be utilized. Policy 7(13-3-6)

The Director may refuse to grant assistance where the applicant has not budgeted his income and expenses in a reasonable and responsible manner. Regulation 7(4)

NOTE : See also "Miscellaneous Provisions" (section 2.17)

Nova Scotia - Provincial

The Director may refuse or terminate benefits to an applicant/recipient where the person is unwilling to accept employment, to engage in an approved educational program or to participate in a rehabilitation program designed to improve his/her occupational or life skills, and where in the opinion of the Director it is in the best interest of the applicant or recipient to accept one of the above options. Regulation 18(1,2)

NOTE : "approved educational program" means high school, college or university training, technical or professional training leading towards a diploma or degree; vocational or trade school, or other training approved by the Director. Regulation 3(b)

Where an applicant or recipient (or the spouse in either case) has quit a job within the four months preceding the application for benefits without just cause or for the purpose of qualifying for benefits (or additional benefits), the Director may refuse to grant benefits or discontinue benefits, as the case may be. Regulation 18(3,4)

Nova Scotia - Municipal

In Nova Scotia, as in Ontario and Manitoba, unemployed employable persons must apply for social assistance to the social services department of the municipality in which they reside. Each municipality is responsible for the establishment of rules and regulations governing its

municipal social assistance program. In Halifax, single able-bodied unemployed persons are considered eligible for municipal social assistance where they show evidence of repeated and continuing attempts to find employment, both through contact with the Canada Employment Centre and on their own initiative. Where such persons are beyond middle age (i.e., in their fifties and sixties) and encountering difficulties in obtaining employment due to their age or state of health, extra consideration will be given in the determination of eligibility. Policy 1.2.1

If a job has been obtained, financial assistance may be granted pending receipt of first pay.

Each able-bodied unemployed person in a two-adult unit is required to actively seek employment. The adult dependent not fulfilling this requirement will be deleted from the couple's budget; where the family head refuses to seek employment, both spouses are ineligible. Policy

New Brunswick

A person who is 19 to 54 years of age and who is assessed as having high employment potential may be eligible for basic assistance under the "Interim Assistance Program" (see section 5.2.4) provided that he/she is otherwise eligible. Regulation 2

A person in need who is a parent (excluding adolescent single parents) and who (or whose spouse) is eligible for and awaiting Unemployment Insurance benefits is eligible for assistance under the Interim Assistance Program. Where the person in need who is awaiting U.I. has no dependent children, he/she if not eligible to receive assistance for a period not to exceed 8 weeks from the date of final receipt of income from work or from the date of the end of his last pay period, whichever is the later. Regulation 2.4(3)


An employable adult who is not included in either the Unavailability or the Participation categories (see section 5.2.5) must take such steps as are appropriate in his situation in order to find remunerative employment or follow the instructions that may be given by the Minister for that purpose. Act 28

An employable adult shall not, without valid reason, refuse or abandon a job or lose a job by his fault so as to become eligible or, as the case may be, render his family eligible for benefits under a program, or so that he or his family be granted greater benefits than those which would otherwise be granted to him or to his family. Act 29

The benefits of an independent adult or of a family shall be reduced by $100 per month for 12 months for each infraction by an adult of a provision of either of the two preceding paragraphs.

Where a subsequent infraction is committed by an adult within 12 months of a previous infraction or of the imposition of a measure provided for in this section, the benefits shall be reduced by an additional $100 per month for 12 months.

Such measures shall be imposed as soon as the infraction is brought to the attention of the Minister and shall be applied concurrently. Their application shall in no case result in the reduction of benefits by an amount exceeding $100 in the case of a family that has only one adult member or $200 in other cases. Regulation 83

An infraction committed by an adult shall cease to be considered for the purposes of imposing a measure provided for in the previous paragraph:

1. where the adult no longer fails to comply with the instructions given by the Minister under section 28 of the Act, or

2. where the adult accepts a job that he had refused, returns to a job that he had abandoned or lost through his own fault, or accepts a job that has characteristics at least similar in salary and in duration. Regulation 84

The Minister shall refuse an application or cease to pay benefits to an independent adult or a family where that independent adult or an adult member of that family refuses without good reason to resume working at a job that he may go back to under working conditions that apply to him.

That independent adult or that family shall remain eligible for the benefits to which he would otherwise have been entitled where that independent adult or adult member of the family had continued to work at that job. Regulation 85

The Minister shall assess the situation of the independent adult or of the adult member of a family and he may offer him information or counselling services. The Minister may also propose to that adult a course of action for entry or re-entry on the labour market; in that case, the Minister may reimburse him for certain of the expenses occasioned by the steps prescribed in the course of action. Act 22

The Minister may also propose to the adult that, as part of a course of action, he avail himself of a temporary measure, such as job support, training or community services. Act 23

Ontario - Provincial

In Ontario, as in Nova Scotia and Manitoba, unemployed employable persons must apply for social assistance to the social services department of the municipality in which they reside (see section 5.1). Editorial Comment

Ontario - Municipal

Assistance may be granted to a person who has a budgetary deficit by reason of inability to obtain employment. Regulation 1 (4)

An employable person who is unemployed may be eligible for assistance if:

a) the person is willing to undertake any full-time, part-time and casual employment for which he or she is physically capable; and

b) the person is making reasonable efforts to secure all such employment. Regulation 4(1)(b)

NOTE : A job offer can only be turned down if the applicant cannot physically handle it. Policy 0303-03

In the case of an applicant or recipient with one or more dependent adults, eligibility is conditional upon each of the dependent adults, who is an employable person and is not attending a course of education or program of training approved by the welfare administrator, satisfying the conditions stated in a) and b) above. Regulation 4(1)(c)

An employable applicant or recipient may not be refused assistance simply on the grounds that he or she refuses to undertake a program of training. Policy 0303-10

An employable person under the age of 18 years is not eligible for assistance unless the welfare administrator is satisfied that there are special circumstances that justify providing the assistance. This provision does not apply to a family head under the age of 18 whose spouse is absent. Regulation 7(4); Policy 0304-05

If, during the month before the application for assistance was made, an applicant, recipient or dependent adult refused or resigned from employment without reasonable cause or was dismissed from employment because of wilful misconduct, disobedience or wilful neglect of duty that had not been condoned by the employer, assistance shall be denied for one month. If the welfare administrator feels that this provision would be unreasonably harsh in the circumstances, the assistance may be reduced for one month. Regulation 4(2.4, 2.5);


Every applicant, recipient and spouse of an applicant or recipient, and every dependent child of an applicant or recipient who is 16 years of age or more and is not in full-time attendance in a course of education or training has an obligation to satisfy the director that he or she

(a) is willing to undertake any full-time, part-time or casual employment of which he or she is capable;

(b) is making reasonable efforts to secure all such employment; and

(c) has explored and is continuing to explore every reasonable possibility of self-support.

Provincial Regulation 10(1); Municipal Regulation 13(1)-eff. 04-93; Municipal Policy p.16

The Director may (subject to the requirements of the Canada Assistance Plan) deny, suspend, reduce or discontinue a social allowance, general assistance or municipal assistance where the above requirements are not met. Provincial Regulation 10(2); Municipal Regulation 13(2) - eff. 04-93

Employable persons residing in unorganized territories and applying for General Assistance (see section 5.1) are required to explore every possibility of self-support. Policy D4-11- 01

In Winnipeg, assistance may also be refused or discontinued where a client behaves irresponsibly at work, thus forcing the employer to discharge him/her; this policy applies only to recipients and to applicants who have previously been on assistance (i.e., long enough to understand this policy). This policy may be waived in special circumstances, such as:

- substantiated medical or social factors which preclude an immediate or early return to employment,

- recipient has found another job and is only asking for assistance to first pay,

- recipient is making maximum effort to secure alternate employment, and

- labour disputes. Policy p.31


As a condition of eligibility, an applicant must produce evidence that he has explored, within the limits of his resources, every possibility of self-support, rehabilitation and re-establishment. Regulation 6(b)

Assistance shall be cancelled when employment which the recipient is capable of performing is available. Regulation 23(1)

Clients who may benefit from case planning participate in the development of reasonable plans within their capabilities. Where clients demonstrate an unwillingness to pursue reasonable plans and they have previously been advised of the consequences of not participating, further case planning may occur or benefits may be suspended. All clients, regardless of their employment status, may be referred to employment and training programs. Policy 3-1-3

In practice, job search requirements and earnings exemption provisions (see Section 3.2) vary according to the client's employability status. Higher expectations are placed upon the "fully employable" client (i.e., employed, self-employed or unemployed person capable of working 36 hours or more per week) than in the case of a client who is "not fully employable" (i.e., disabled, age [see section 2.7], poor work history and social problems, care of an immediate family member at home, first three months of separation, pregnancy, single parent [or one spouse of two-adult family] with at least one child under six years of age). Regulation 2(d.2), 2(d.3); Policy 3-1-3, 3-1-4

- See also Section 5.2.8(page 1) for provisions concerning benefit reductions for clients who discontinue gainful employment.


Where, in the opinion of the Director, an applicant or recipient has refused to seek or accept reasonable employment for reasonable wages OR refused or neglected to avail himself of appropriate training or rehabilitative measures, the Director is under no obligation to provide or continue to provide any services or social allowance to that person; he may discontinue, suspend or vary the services or the social allowances provided to a person who is already in receipt of such assistance. Act 16(2)

In practice, different levels of expectation with respect to job search requirements under the Supports for Independence Program apply to the various categories in which clients are classified.

NOTE : The comprehensive list of client categories (along with their respective characteristics) appears in section 2.1 of this report. Please use that section as reference when reading the following paragraphs.

Clients in categories 13, 21 to 23, 25 to 27 and 31 to 33 are expected to participate in goal setting and outlining their steps towards independence through a mutually agreed-upon Employment Plan with the worker. This plan becomes a working agreement between the client and the Department. The Employment Plan (Form SSA 2104) sets out the client's employment goal, steps to getting a job (along with time frames for each step), other pertinent information and an undertaking by the client to actively look for work and to respect the terms of the plan; the client must sign the form (as does the worker), acknowledging that he/she understands that benefits may be terminated for non-compliance with terms of the plan. Policy SFI-01-03-03, SFI-06-07-01

In the case of an employable client (from one of the categories noted in the previous paragraph) who demonstrates little or no effort to become independent, penalties may range from the addition of more stringent requirements to the client's Employment Plan to the outright termination of benefits. For example, in the case of an applicant who has refused a reasonable job offer or quit his/her most recent job without just cause, that applicant may be referred back to the employer to try to re-acquire the job; if that job is no longer available and there is no alternative, assistance may be granted (provided the applicant is in need) and an Employment Plan established. However, where the person who has refused or quit a job without just cause is already a recipient, that person is deemed to have demonstrated that he is no longer is need of assistance, and benefits are to be discontinued; if the client recaptures the job or gets another job and is otherwise eligible, assistance is restored. Consistent and persistent refusal or failure to follow through on one's Employment Plan over a significant period of time also leads to termination of benefits. Policy SFI-01-03-03 p.5

All clients in categories 25, 26 and 27 are required to seek, accept and maintain reasonable employment for reasonable wages; "reasonable employment" means employment that pays at least minimum wage and does not jeopardize the health and well-being of the client. Policy SFI-01-03-03

British Columbia

The Minister may declare ineligible for income assistance or social services or reduce the amount of income assistance or social services of an individual who:

a) refuses to accept employment that is available and within his ability to perform; or

b) by his misconduct, loses his employment; or

c) terminates his employment for other than medical reasons; or

d) fails to demonstrate that he is making reasonable efforts to secure employment. Act 18

A person is eligible for income assistance only if he makes and continues to make reasonable efforts to seek out, pursue and take full advantage of every source of income or assets that is or might be available to him and every source of income or assets that is or might be available to any of his dependents. See "Hardship Assistance" (section 5.2.10 "l").

Regulation 3(9)

All applicants for and recipients of income assistance shall be considered employable except for any person who is:

i) 65 years of age or over, or

ii) suffering from a medical condition (as certified by a medical practitioner) which renders him or her temporarily or permanently incapable of accepting employment. Regulation 2

Except for single parents with a young or disabled child at home (see section 2.9), any employable person who applies for income assistance must submit proof that he or she is actively seeking employment as an alternative to receiving assistance. Regulation 3.2

NOTE : The above policy does not apply to an employable person who is either a handicapped person, 60 to 64 years of age, or enroled in an approved program leading to employment or employment preparation. Regulation 3.3

Basic temporary assistance (i.e., ongoing "regular" social assistance) shall not be granted to an employable person who:

- quits work, is fired for just cause or refuses work (including farm labour) that conforms to provincial labour laws;
- is disqualified from receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits because he/she quit work, was fired for just cause or refused work (as above);
- is awaiting U.I. benefits, or has been disqualified for failing to submit U.I.C. Report Cards on time;
- claims that his/her physical health has been, or may be, adversely affected by a work situation (unless supporting documentation from a physician is provided); or
- is a regular student awaiting a student loan, or who has had a loan application rejected, or who is seeking financial assistance to complete his/her education, or who is in debt and seeking assistance.

Such clients may qualify for Hardship Assistance (see Section 5.2.10, Note "1"). It should be noted that this policy does not apply to an employable single parent with a dependent child under 12 years of age or a physically or mentally handicapped child under 19 years of age at home. Policy 3.14.2


An agreement to repay should be discussed with the recipient when he/she is expecting income within the next 30 days, e.g., when commencing or resuming employment. Policy 8/9/2

A person who deliberately neglects to apply for U.I. benefits is depriving him/herself of available resources and therefore may not be eligible for social assistance. Assistance in such cases is only granted where the person is without income or assets and has immediately applied for U.I. benefits. Employed persons who quit a job needlessly, or who had employment terminated due to their behaviour, are not usually eligible for social assistance while awaiting U.I. benefits. Employed persons who quit work to care for family members may be eligible for assistance even though the U.I. program imposes a six-week penalty period. Policy 8/14

An applicant for assistance is required to produce evidence that he has explored, within the limits of his ability, every possibility of self-support, rehabilitation and re-establishment. (see also section 2.2 concerning residence) Regulation 5(1)(a)

Northwest Territories

Where an applicant is unemployed but is employable, the officer must be satisfied that the applicant is searching for and willing to undertake wage employment or self-employment, or to avail himself of such job preparation services as can be provided. Regulation 5
Assistance shall be refused or discontinued to an employable applicant who is unwilling to accept employment of whatever type that has been offered to him within the Territories, or who refuses to make use of the resources available to him, unless the officer is satisfied that such action would create undue and extended hardship for an applicant with dependents. Regulation 5(2,3)
Assistance is terminated when employment that will promote family stability is available to the recipient and he is capable of undertaking such employment. Regulation 16(1)(b)

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