Your Welcome Wagon should not include bedbugs

 Talk about coincidence. Yesterday, while I was posting my latest entry about bedbugs, Toronto MPP (that’s Member of Provincial Parliament, for all you non-Canadians) Mike Colle was introducing a private member’s bill called The “Renter’s Right To Know” Act. If passed, it would require landlords to let prospective tenants know if there are, or if there ever have been, bedbug problems in their buildings.

It didn’t take long for the media to pounce – and rightly so: bedbugs, as I said, are a mushrooming problem in pretty much every city across North America. No longer the bailiwick of rooming houses and low-income rentals, these creepy little pests are back with a vengeance, thanks to increased global travel, and to the fact that broad-spectrum pesticides like DDT and malathion, which used to nuke the little shites into oblivion, are no longer used. Now everyone from hostels to daycares to the finest five-star hotels and fluffy condos either has them, or can expect to have them sometime soon.

Knock, knock. Who's there? DEATH.

Toronto Star columnist Joe Fiorito has been following the bedbug situation in Toronto for some time now, and this morning he wrote a column about Mr Colle’s proposed bill – and urged Torontonians to write their own MPPs to ask that they vote for the bill.

And in a very uncharacteristic move, I stuck out my Smiter-y old neck and did just that. Up to now, I have not been a political reptile at all, other than showing up to vote every four years, but my stars, this issue has hit close to home. Necessity is the mother of intervention, I guess.

My letter is below, and I urge any of you who knows anyone who has ever had bedbugs, or lives in a multi-unit building, to look up their own MPP and ask them to please, for the love of cortisone, vote for this bill. You may cut-and-paste as you wish from this letter and adapt it to your own needs, and add your own stories and experiences as necessary. Keep it clean, short and respectful, please.

A footnote here: Casa Smiter has been reassembled once again (with the exception of the clothes and linens, which remain bagged, just in case) thanks largely to the help of my friend Karen. Although she spent a fun-filled day on the lawn with her pets, as I mentioned, and had her own tossed Casa to attend to after Napalm 2.0, she spared no effort in rushing upstairs and helping me restore order when I returned home on Wednesday night. Thanks to her, I made it to the theatre on time, belly filled with a hot dinner, and did not have to move furniture in the middle of the night, as I had feared.

I think this should fit. Hang on while I spray it.

I am having her fitted for a crown this weekend. I will, of course, inspect it carefully for bedbugs first.

— Smiter out.

Mr. Peter Tabuns

421 Donlands Avenue
Toronto ON M4J 3S2

Dear Mr Tabuns,

As you know, yesterday Mr Mike Colle introduced a private members’ bill that, if passed, would require landlords to let prospective tenants know if there are, or have been, problems with bedbugs in their buildings.

I very strongly support such a bill – up until a couple of months ago I was absolutely unfamiliar with bedbugs. But someone in our otherwise beautiful building brought them in, and life has not been the same since. We’ve endured two exterminations so far (meaning laundering & bagging all clothing & linens, piling furniture in the middle of the room, emptying closets & dressers, removing mirrors & paintings & electrical switchplates, taking pets to the kennel for the day), and, living as I do under the fellow who has the “super-infestation” in our building, I was so badly bitten that I had to wear a turtleneck to work to conceal the welts. I am one of the unlucky ones who are allergic to bedbug bites so have had to fork out cash for an Epi-Pen, hydrocortisone cream, eye drops and antihistamines. I’ve had to throw out shoes and rugs, buy caulking & tape & sealing supplies, board my cat at the kennel twice, and take time off work to pack and unpack my entire apartment.

To date the bill is $1100 and climbing – and I’m one of the lucky ones. Some people have to throw out beds, dressers, wall-to-wall carpeting, sofas, entire wardrobes – and worse.

It’s a commonly held myth that bedbugs are a problem only for “dirty” places like rooming houses & low-income housing, but this is absolutely not the case. If I showed you the otherwise well-maintained middle-class building I live in, you’d be shocked – as was I.

Alas, people moving into our building are absolutely unaware that the problem exists, and while management has actually stepped up to the plate in terms of spraying & trying to control the problem, they certainly aren’t telling prospective tenants what a headache they’re moving into. And this is just wrong. No one should have bedbugs as their “Welcoming Committee.”

Your riding includes a lot of buildings that have reported bedbug activity – here’s a link to some of them, if you’re interested:

Bedbugs are an expensive, stressful and disruptive problem that increasingly affects people from all walks of life, and I do hope you’ll put your support behind Mr Colle’s bill.

Please let me know if you need any more information or assistance from me; I’m happy to help.

Respectfully yours,

Dr Smiter




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