Respite Care

Temporary wage increase for direct support workers

As of October 1, 2020, workers who provide personal support services are eligible for a temporary wage increase.

We are offering temporary support to cover this wage increase for people and families who pay for services from eligible direct support workers with funds from direct funding programs. These changes apply to support workers who provide:

  • direct assistance with personal care
  • respite care
  • community activity participation

Learn more about this temporary funding and how to get it.

Temporary changes to eligible expenses

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are temporarily expanding the list of eligible expenses under the Enhanced Respite program to support people and their families while community-based activities and settings are closed. These changes allow you to use your funding for goods and services that may make it easier for you to stay at home during this time and practise physical distancing.

New eligible expenses include:

  1. Sensory Items
    • To support children and youth who rely on sensory items to alleviate anxiety/stress and/or support any clinical or behavioural plans.
      • e.g. multi-sensory related products and technologies.
  2. Technology
    • Provide children and youth the means and ability to stay safe, connected, and occupied and engaged at home, including in virtual and online learning and skill development activities. These items include:
      • Laptops and tablets;
      • Online educational and e-learning activities and resources;
      • Videogames and videogame systems;
      • Webcams and microphones;
      • Media service subscriptions and platforms (e.g. Netflix, Xbox Live, Disney+) (Note: this will not include cancellation fees);
      • E-readers (e.g. Kindle or Kobo); and
      • Remote monitoring devices and medical alert services and devices.
    • The approval of technology will also support the virtual engagement of people with disabilities and connections for families, providing some relief from caregiving requirements and alleviating some of the impacts of physical distancing.
  3. Items to support home-based recreation and fitness activities
    • Supplies to support home-based hobbies and activities that would otherwise be accessed through day programs, school and other community-based programs. Some examples include, but are not limited to:
      • Arts and craft supplies;
      • Hobby supplies;
      • Puzzles and games; and
      • Books for leisure/learning.
    • Supplies to support home-based physical activity and fitness. Some examples may include, but are not limited to:
      • Indoor items and equipment (e.g. skipping rope, yoga mat, resistance bands); and
      • fitness/sport equipment and supplies that may be used on the individual’s property (e.g. basketball net, trampoline, frisbee, badminton set).
  4. Personal Protective Equipment and Supplies, When Available
    • To enable children and youth, their families and their support workers to be supported more safely at home or as required, in the community, which may be of heightened importance to children/adults who are immunocompromised. This includes items such as:
      • Gloves;
      • Masks;
      • Gowns;
      • Cleaning supplies (e.g. disinfectant wipes, sprays, and hand sanitizer); and
      • Goggles and face shields.
  5. Essential Service Delivery Fees
    • Where families are unable to leave their homes for groceries or pharmacy needs because of the vulnerability of their family member and/or because of their care requirements, service delivery fees for essential items such as groceries and medication will be an admissible expense. (Note: this does not include the actual cost of the groceries and/or medications, just the service fee for delivery).
    • Delivery fees for takeout food from restaurants are not included.
  6. Behavioural Support Plans and Related Interventions
    • Behavioural supports and interventions intended to assist families to more safely support their child at home. This may include:
      • Development of behavioural support plans and recommended interventions (delivered in person or remotely/virtually)
      • Support strategies to reduce challenging behaviours or potential crisis situations.
      • Note: This does not include physiotherapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy.
  7. Ability to hire (non-primary caregiver) family members or neighbours/friends to provide respite
    • To allow families who cannot hire respite workers or have concerns about having workers in their homes, to hire trusted family or friends to provide respite.

These changes are temporary and all other existing program policies, terms and conditions remain in effect. You will be given as much notice as possible to prepare for the return of regular business once the government provides notice.

To make it easier for Enhanced Respite recipients to take advantage of these changes quickly, we provided 25 per cent of your funding for 2020/21 in advance. Recipients who have been reassessed by their Local Health Integration Network automatically received their funding in advance. Other recipients, who have not been reassessed, will need to call their local regional office to receive advance funding. You should save all receipts, invoices and supporting documents with proof of payment for these expenses. Please submit claims for these expenses and the ministry will reconcile your budget based on the claims you submit. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are also waiving the deadline to submit your 2019/20 claims.

These measures are part of the government’s action plan to protect vulnerable people and staff caring for them.

Ontario funds two programs that can give families a break, or respite, from the day-to-day care of their child with special needs.

Out-of-Home Respite

Families of children with multiple special needs can receive up to seven days of out-of-home respite per year. This can be provided in a location other than their own home.


The child must:

and, without out-of-home respite, there's a real possibility that

How to apply

Contact the ministry's regional office nearest you.

Enhanced Respite Funding

This grant is paid to families who are caring for a child who is medically fragile and/or depends on a technological device, and requires care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is provided in addition to other respite services. Families may be eligible for up to $3,500 per child, per year.

Families who may qualify for this grant have children who:


The child:

How to apply

Contact the ministry's regional office nearest you.

Learn More