This paper examines the experiences of immigrants in Toronto as they pass through, and leave, Ontario Works (OW), a ‘Work First’ approach to social assistance that prioritizes rapid labour force attachment. We examine the Ontario Works activities of immigrants, compared to native born Canadians, and their respective post-OW job characteristics. We find that immigrants experience a significant relative wage disadvantage after participation, and substantially less wage growth when moving to the second post-welfare job. We conclude that Ontario Works, like most ‘work first’ employment programs, is ill-suited to addressing earnings disadvantage among immigrants. We suggest that programs ‘beyond work first’, though not targeted specifically towards immigrants, might nevertheless offer more assistance. The recurring wage disadvantage, however, would remain unaddressed and might require more direct intervention.