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Opinion: We need to strengthen publicly funded homecare in time for winter

By Dr. Tara Kiran

Summer in Canada has brought fewer new COVID-19 infections and an economy that is slowly reopening. But even as many Canadians are breathing a collective sigh of relief, health-care leaders are preparing for a winter unlike any that has come before.

Every winter is difficult for hospitals in Canada, which are often over-full and under-resourced. But this year, a potential surge of COVID-19 cases could put further stress on an already stretched system.

Better publicly funded homecare needs to be part of our strategy to prepare for what may be our worst winter yet.

We’ve known for a long time that homecare needs to be improved. In Ontario alone, there have been several expert reports in the last few years calling for homecare reforms and two successive governments have made changes to homecare governance. Yet, problems remain.

In 2018, I led a study asking patients and caregivers from across Ontario about the challenges they faced when transitioning from hospital to home. Again and again, the same answer came up: patients just simply don’t get enough homecare to meet their needs.

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