Provincial funding runs out for bed bug battalion

The $1.2 million one-time funding provided by the government of Ontario last year to help Toronto address the issue of bed bugs expired on March 31.

But the problem of bed bugs cannot be solved in such short period of time, said Tracy Leach, the program manager of the bed bug team of Toronto Public Health (TPH).

According to Leach, the bed bug team, supported by the fund, consists of a program manager, six public health inspectors and three public health nurses. That team is now closing off their cases while waiting for responses from the province, she said.

“What is happening right now is that we are in a transition,” Leach said,  “Certain cases we are meeting to just to record and keep on hold until we find out if we have funding or not. But we are trying to still get as much done as we can and close off some of our complex files. “

A request has been made to continue the funding.

“We are still awaiting a response from the province because there was a request made by The city of Toronto for continued funding,” Leach said.

“The city manager has written a letter, as have a number of community agencies and partners supporting our position,” she said.

The $1.2 million was a part of the $5 million fund provided by the province to help health units across Ontario addressing the bed bug issue, said Andrew Morrison, spokesperson for Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.

“There are 36 public units in Ontario; 33 of them applied for and received funding,” Morrison said.

According to Morrison, there will not be more funding rolling into TPH.

“There won’t be any more funding. The $5-million fund was always to be a one-time fund,” Morrison said,

“Going forward, the fund was always designed to create efforts of sustainability beyond the funding period. So with those funds health units have been focusing on building capacity within their own areas.”