Ontario seniors are getting a new home renovation tax credit next year in order to stay in their homes for a longer period of time and avoid entering a long-term care home which has been hard-hit by COVID-19.

The Seniors' Home Safety Tax Credit was unveiled by the Ford government on Thursday, as part of the 2020-21 budget, at a cost of $30 million.

Seniors and their families would be eligible for up to $2,500 in a tax credit, if they spend $10,000 on home improvements to make their living space more comfortable, including grab bars around toilets, tubs and showers, wheelchairs ramps and stair lifts.

The first or second floors of homes could also be modified to create a suitable living space for a senior.

The government says seniors would be eligible regardless of their incomes, or whether they owe income tax in 2021 -- the only year the credit is available.

The tax credit might convince more elderly residents to remain at home or with family members during the pandemic and beyond, to reduce the strain on the nursing home sector.

The pandemic has taken more than 2,000 lives in Ontario's long-term care homes, and has prevented seniors from being moved off the wait list and into a residence.

The government estimates that 27,000 people would benefit from the new tax credit.