I live in the province of Ontario in Canada. The ministry of community and social services here have a type of welfare called Ontario Works, and this provides financial and employment assistance to individuals in need. And I'm wondering, what does Works of Ontario Works mean? I've looked up the term in the dictionaries, but couldn't find anything relevant to the context.

  • It's a pun on Works, as Public Works, and on works as earning a living. Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 23:59

2 Answers 2


It's the third person singular present of the verb "to work." There's nothing deeper than that; this is a baroque rat's idea of a fun, modern name for the programme.

  • To be eligible for the program you must be able to work, agree to "take part in activities that will help you find a job" and so on. This is in contrast to someone who cannot work (because they are disabled perhaps). The name of the program describes their hope for what it will achieve - to transition people from needing financial aid to working. (As for whether it meets that goal, or whether being on it is as fun and upbeat as the name, that's a different story.) Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 18:17
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    btw @James, is baroque rat a deliberate pun? Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 18:17
  • LOL yes, although I expect someone to correct it. (I can't claim credit for it - I read it in a sci-fi story during the eighties - whose name I forgot long ago.) Or maybe I should say - you live here, you tell me? Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 19:09

Public works is a common phrase for such things as building new hospitals, and I imagine some bureaucrat could not resist the play on words between this (which historically involved work for local unemployed labourers, though less so nowadays), and a slogan about 'getting Ontario back to work'. As a bonus, it implies that the Ontario administration is working well. Clever, eh? (at least by political standards.)

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