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Ontario putting $100 million into home care aid

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Ontario is making a $100-million infusion into its home care system this year that will include break times or respite for overworked caregivers looking after chronically-ill loved ones.

Health Minister Eric Hoskins said that $20 million of the infusion will be used to bolster respite care that will provide a "much-needed break for caregivers who give so much of themselves to provide daily, around-the-clock care" with 600,000 additional hours of assistance.

"We know they deliver the lion's share of support to family members and loved ones," he said in making the announcement July 19 at a downtown apartment building with assisted living services.

The remaining $80 million will go to providing another 350,000 hours of nursing care and 1.3 million more hours of personal support for services such as dressing, bathing, grooming and housekeeping.

Stakeholder groups applauded the improvements, particularly in respite care.

"You hear stories about people dropping off their loved ones at the ER, saying 'I can't deal with this anymore,” said Lisa Levin, chair of the Ontario Caregiver Coalition, told the Toronto Star.

Families needing respite care or more home care can apply to their local Community Care Access Centre.

Ontario spends $3 billion a year on home care to provide an alternative to more expensive hospitals and long-term care. About 60 per cent of the 650,000 residents receiving home care are seniors.

The minister also said that the province is setting up a panel of experts to examine the levels of home care provided in different parts of Ontario to ensure consistency of care, an issue that has concerned the Ontario auditor general.