LONDON, ONT. -- The provincial government has announced it will spend nearly $6 million to keep local seniors and the chronically ill in their own homes longer.

Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek was among the politicians confirming the announcement Tuesday morning.

Yurek says the $5.9 million will be spent in London and Middlesex County. The money will expand on the existing paramedicine program.

Paramedicine involves fully-trained paramedics visiting the homes of those approaching the need for long-term care.

The paramedics then assess aid and offer links to community supports.

They’ll be available 24/7.

Yurek says expanding paramedicine is the best way to provide the breathing room needed to enhance Ontario’s long-term care facilities.

The province’s system of private and public long-term care facilities has been under scrutiny both before and since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yurek says keeping people out of the system longer while providing them better at-home support is the immediate solution.

“All that money we’ve invested takes time to produce results. What this paramedicine program does in the short-term is provides that care immediately to folks needing those extra supports to keep them home longer until we can build up the number of long-term care spaces in the province.”

Yurek expects phase three of the paramedicine program, planned for later this year, will expand the program into other counties in the region.