In 2003, there were merely 43 infestations reported to public health in the city of Toronto. In 2009, that number rose to 1,300. Last year, more than 2,000 homes reported bed bug infestations.
In response to the increase, the Bed Bug Project was formed in Toronto in 2008. The Bed Bug Project even has an educational website that offers support in several languages. The program focuses particularly on populations they consider to “vulnerable”.
Bed bug management is costly; Toronto’s bed bug fighting unit is stretched to its financial limits and they need help. According to an article in the Toronto Star, Mayor Rob Ford and his allies “previously turned down a provincial offer for two public health nurses.” Apparently, Ford opposed the offer because he was worried that the city would have to continue paying the nurses’ salaries once provincial funding ran out.
A second offer for nurses, plus a one-time offer of $1.2M in financial assistance for the city’s bed bug initiative, will be voted on by a budget committee next week. Recently, the province announced that it would contribute $5M to the Bed Bug Support Fund.
What is done with the funding? When a client is struggling to cope with an infestation, city employees are sent in to offer advice, consult with a licensed exterminator, communicate with the landlord and assist with preparing the home for treatment. Nurses are sent in to make sure that health support is provided as well. They even help with laundry, if needed.
Reg Ayre, manager for health environments, believes the city desperately needs the funding. “You can treat the bed bug problem,” he says, “but if these folks are out there living in an unsupported environment the bed bug problem is going to recur.” Ayre believes that, without help, “we are going to be hard-pressed to mount a comprehensive program against bed bugs.”
If you have questions or concerns about bed bugs, please contact one of our professional exterminators.