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This article was published 9/3/2011 (2356 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The province will unveil its $770,000 battle plan against bedbugs today to enlist Manitobans of every stripe to get the upper hand on the pests that have infested many homes and businesses across the province.
The government will institute a bedbug website and hotline and put together a coalition of municipalities, health authorities and business groups to come up with a common solution to get rid of bedbugs.
However, the plan does not include mandatory public reporting of places that have bedbugs, which had been requested by paramedics and other professionals who must enter a large number of homes and buildings.
MP Pat Martin, who battled a bedbug infestation at his Winnipeg Centre constituency office, said Wednesday night the Selinger government's strategy won't work without a mandatory registry.
"People have a right to know if there is a risk of contact with these nightmare parasites, whether you are a potential renter, a tradesman or a first responder attending an emergency," he said.
More details of the province's bedbug strategy will be outlined by Healthy Living, Youth and Seniors Minister Jim Rondeau at a bedbug symposium at Assiniboine College in Brandon.
The money is for the first year of the bedbug blitz, as it's acknowledged bedbugs won't go out without a fight.
"Bedbugs can cause a great deal of stress and financial hardship for those affected," Rondeau said in a prepared statement obtained by the Free Press. "They are not exclusive to any one area or group of people. Everyone in our communities will have a role to play in finding affordable solutions."
The bedbug fight comes as multiple levels of government in Canada and the United States look for the best way to fight the parasites, regarded as rare in North America as recently as a decade ago, but now a daily occurrence.
Cities across the continent have seen a surge in bedbugs, partly because of an increase in international travel, but also because of a ban on highly toxic pesticides such as DDT and a growing bedbug resistance to lower-strength insecticides.
Ontario was first province to roll out an anti-bedbug plan, a $5-million strategy to educate Ontarians and fund public health agencies across that province to go on the offensive against the pests.
"It's a global problem," Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said in a recent interview. "Where it attacks a building, and people that are living in the building, we have to be willing to get involved and work with them through the private sector, through the public sector and with the different levels of government."
Manitoba's strategy will give qualifying organizations access to specialized materials to help combat bedbugs at low cost. Items such as mattress and box-spring encasements, specialized laundry bags and insect monitors will be included.
A grant program will be introduced to help not-for-profit community organizations in their education, management and prevention efforts.
The province has enlisted Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz. Katz, who has pledged city staff will work with the province and other organizations to attack bedbugs.
The first part of the strategy will be evident in several weeks through a media campaign focusing on prevention and eradication. It will include brochures, posters, fact sheets and a bedbug website, which will provide information on how to prevent and identify an infestation and what steps to take when one happens.
A bedbug phone line will be set up to give information to Manitobans. Calls will be tracked to help evaluate the bedbug situation throughout the province.
In Winnipeg, bedbugs have recently been found in places as varied as Martin's office, the Millennium Library and an increasing number of city apartments and homes.
Winnipeg's 311 telephone service fielded 638 bedbug complaints in 2010, up from 504 the year before. The sites included 283 apartments, 93 rooming houses, 21 personal-care facilities and 10 commercial premises.
Manitoba's decision to fight bedbugs makes sense, according to one pest-control company that's been pushing for more public education to keep the bugs from spreading.
"Right on. Our big push has been education and they're taking us seriously. It's great," said Shaun Jeffrey, manager of Abell Pest Control. Last year, the company took 2,800 calls to get rid of bedbugs. Six years ago, it was a handful.
-- with files from Alexandra Paul