Remember how Toronto officials asked Ontario for $15 million to fight bed bugs over five years, and were denied this funding?
Now, Ontario is committing $5 million to fight bed bugs across the entire province. You can read more about this on Ontario News, a government-run news website.
The provincial funding includes “up to $5 million for local education and awareness initiatives and to support vulnerable populations.”
According to Ontario News, there will also be a new public educational campaign about bed bugs, a guide entitled An Integrated Pest Management Program for Managing Bed Bugs, and a government-run bed bug website (which is already full of information for Ontario residents with bed bugs).
I’m genuinely torn between being thrilled that anyone is getting any kind of bed bug-related funding in this economic climate (let alone $5 million), and being frustrated that it surely won’t stretch far enough. The need is just so great.
Thirty-six public health units across Ontario will apply for a share of the $5 million.
According to The Star, local politicians like City Councillor Paula Fletcher both appreciate the funding and wish it were more.
Remember, Fletcher initially hoped for $3 million to start “a dedicated bed bug unit” in Toronto.
With the current funds, exactly how “vulnerable populations” are to be assisted by the local public health units is key.
Of course, education about how to avoid/detect/treat bed bugs is important. However, unless something tangible can be done to help people who are physically or financially unable to prepare for or unable to get bed bug treatment, the problem will continue to spread at an alarming rate, and will continue to seriously damage people’s lives.
Bed bugs are a serious pain for many of us. A financial crisis. A health episode. Four to eight weeks, at best, of feeling itchy and socially isolated.
In the worst case scenarios, we flee. We lose money, sometimes prized possessions, sometimes lots of necessities. It is heartbreaking and bank-breaking, but we somehow get through it, if we have funds, friends, family, a way to get by.
But for people who cannot get good effective treatment for bed bugs, and who cannot deal with the problem or move away from it, bed bugs are devastating and may last forever. That’s an unacceptable situation, and we need to do something about it.