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FAMILY TIPSHEET: Emergency funding sources and access to basic necessities

Emergency funding sources and access to basic necessities

Please note: The information provided in this tipsheet is for reference only. It is not intended as a recommendation or endorsement of organizations, agencies or private businesses, or as a comprehensive resource list. 

Based on when you are viewing this tipsheet, the information may not be the most up to date. Please refer to the date this tipsheet was last updated, at the end of the document. You can also access this tipsheet online at

This tipsheet provides a list of governmental and non-governmental emergency funds and supports for families, in situations where they may need help urgently to pay for or find basic necessities.

Government funding

  • Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB) - Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB) gives temporary income support to employed and self-employed people who cannot work due to a COVID-19 lockdown.  The CWLB is only available when your region is selected for a COVID-19 lockdown order.
  • Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.  Answer some questions here to help you understand what benefits you may be able to get.


Temporary Covid-19 Isolation Emergency Support Fund: The temporary COVID Isolation Emergency Support Fund (COVID IESF) has been established to assist individuals who due to a severe financial hardship are not able to access COVID testing and/or complete the required period of isolation.   This one-time assistance is available through FCJ Refugee Centre, and is for individuals not eligible to receive any other financial support.

Food services

Note: Some agencies require that you pre-register or register at your first visit. Please call or e-mail ahead if possible.


Food banks

Affordable food

General resources for food, shelter or clothing

  • 211 Central - Resource database serving Toronto, Durham, Peel and York Regions - → enter ‘Location’ and ‘Food’ as a topic into the search fields
  • Distress Centres of Greater Toronto: Emergency food services in the GTA and Toronto, as well as clothing, housing and emotional support services
  • Chalmers: An online chatbot that can help you find food, shelter, or clothing that you can access in Toronto.
  • Ontario government COVID-19: Learn what provincial, financial, mental health and other supports are available including social services, shelters, filing taxes, paying rent, food banks.

Community volunteer groups for food delivery/general assistance

Additional funding supports

Funds that support students

Funds that support electricity and gas bills for your home

  • Ontario Energy Board Low-income Energy Assistance Program: Low-income customers can get up to $500 in emergency assistance for their electricity bills ($600 if your home is heated electrically) and $500 for their natural gas bills. The assistance is only available if you are behind on your bill – or in arrears – and may face having your service disconnected.
  • Toronto Hydro Low-income Energy Assistance Program(LEAP): LEAP is a grant program that helps those who are struggling to pay past due bills or have already received a disconnection notice. It offers a maximum grant of $500 per household per year ($600 for electrically heated homes).

Funds that support artists, entertainers and tip-based workers

Financial planning

  • Financial Consumer Agency of Canada: tips for managing finances during this time.
  • Woodgreen: Now offering financial counselling virtually.  Counsellors are available to speak with clients on a variety of low-income financial issues. Phone translation is available in many languages. 


Originally created by the Family Support Specialists (Melissa Ngo, Lorraine Thomas and Meghan Toswell) at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital on April 6, 2020.  Most recently updated January 24, 2022. If you have a question or a resource to share, please feel free to reach out to us at   We encourage you to visit our website to access all of our COVID-19 or Coronavirus specific family tip sheets.  If you are looking for other family resources that have to do with childhood disability, please visit