Home Support doubling housekeeping costs

TEMISKAMING SHORES - Timiskaming Home Support clients who have been receiving light housekeeping support in their homes have been advised of price increases to continue receiving that service effective February 1.

Timiskaming Home Support has notified clients that "due to the rise in operational costs, the rates for Timiskaming Home Support services will be increasing."

The charitable organization is a health service provider funded through Ontario Health, and assists seniors to help them to stay in their homes.

Timiskaming Home Support (THS) chief executive officer Caroline Morin says the funding model has not changed, nor has the eligibility criteria changed for clients to receive services.

But she said THS received a two per cent increase in funding in June 2022 and that is not keeping up with the rising cost of materials used for the services.

"The price increase is based on the actual cost of running those programs," she said. "The funding is not keeping up."

Inflation is driving up the actual costs, she said.

"The only other avenue we have at this moment is to increase the rates, otherwise we are going to have to close off some of the programs and we don't want to do that."

The need to provide salaries which will retain staff is an even greater factor in the need to increase prices, she explained.

"It's a vicious circle because everything is going up," Morin commented.

Salaries need to be competitive to hire and retain staff, she explained, "otherwise we are going to lose them."

The salary increases have already been implemented, she said.

RANGE OF CHARGES

Charges to clients range, depending on their Notice of Assessments, and if they live alone or with a partner.

People living alone with an income less than $11,452.99 will now have to pay $10.50 an hour for light housekeeping assistance, up from $5.15.

Individuals with an income of $11,453 to $20,783.99 will be charged $31.50 an hour for the service, up from $15.75

Individuals with an income of $20,784 and over will see the service increase from $26.75 up to $52.50.

The pricing for hourly light housekeeping services for couples with a combined income up to $27,455.99 will pay $10.50 an hour; $27,456 to $49,824.99 will pay $31.50 an hour; and over $49,825 will pay $52.50 an hour.

All programs at Timiskaming Home Support have been impacted, she added.

"The hardest felt increases have been in the last year. It has been an ongoing issue since the beginning of the pandemic."

THS did have some COVID funding during the pandemic but that is no longer available, she explained.

"There has been no increase in funding to help us out with inflation. Now we're at a loss for ideas of where we can find dollars to offset the cost of running these programs," Morin said.

The competition is high for Trillium dollars and other funding initiatives that are being opened up, she said.

Darlene Wroe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker