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MONTRÉAL ADOPTS A REGIONAL ACTION PLAN TO FIGHT AGAINST BEDBUGS

24 mars 2011

Montréal, le 24 mars 2011 - Mr. Michael Applebaum, Vice-Chairman of the Montréal Executive Committee responsible for housing, and Dr. Richard Lessard, Director of Public Health at the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal, today announced the implementation of a regional action pan to fight against bedbugs in residential buildings on the Island of Montréal. This plan is part of ongoing efforts introduced in 2008 by the two organizations to limit the spread of these insect pests. It will help to act more efficiently on-site, monitor infestations, strengthen communications with members of the community as well as mobilize key players and stakeholders. 

“We must act rapidly to control the spread of bedbugs and reduce the harmful effects of infestations on the community. We must avoid situations that have occurred in other large North American cities. Through this action plan, Montréal is taking action to limit bedbug infestations on the island,” said Michael Applebaum.

“According to a survey conducted in 2010, 2.7% of households on the Island of Montréal have had experiences with bedbugs in their homes in the 12 months prior to the survey. In the coming years, this issue could become more severe, causing a greater impact on human health. In an effort to slow down bedbug infestations, the Direction de santé publique (DSP) plans to be part of the action plan by sharing scientific expertise in the fields of monitoring, knowledge acquisition and support to stakeholders working in the field,” said Dr. Lessard.

Bedbugs are back in Montréal, as in most large cities on the planet. These insects feed on the blood of people in their sleep. Bedbugs are responsible for skin problems as well as sleep disturbances, stress, anxiety and social isolation. The improper use of insecticides to get rid of bedbugs can cause health problems.

A concrete action plan
The regional action plan to fight against bedbugs is made up of four elements:

Intervention
The plan provides for visits by city inspectors to detect the presence of bedbugs in dwellings. New regulations will be developed to govern the pickup of mattresses and bulky items from the street, to help reduce the risk of bedbug infestation. The city and DSP plan to draw on pilot projects to develop a specific means of intervention to help building owners and tenants who are experiencing persistent bedbug infestations. Special tools and training will be available to school, CPE and health establishment managers, to help them fight against bedbug infestations in their specific environments.

Surveillance and monitoring
The plan proposes a series of measures to document and follow up on bedbug infestations in residential buildings. These include a centralized data bank to collect and monitor information on the extent, geographical distribution and evolution of bedbug infestations on the Island of Montréal. This data bank will be supported by various sources of information, including citizen requests via the 311 Info-line and the boroughs, interventions by inspectors, mandatory reports by pest control managers as well as data collected by major property owners. Also, investigations and surveys to determine the prevalence of bedbug infestations and their impact on health will be conducted.

Communications
Communications will be stepped up to include general information and prevention messages aimed at the community. New campaigns and tools will be developed. Municipal resources and networks will include the boroughs, Montréal Insectarium, library network, city inspectors and 311 Info-line. The Centre de santé et de services sociaux (CSSS) and Info-Santé will continue to disseminate information to the public.

Concerted action
The plan provides for the creation of a regional consultative committee aimed at mobilizing key players and stakeholders who are concerned about the bedbug issue. This committee will be made up of city and borough representatives, the Direction de santé publique (DSP) and Centres de santé et de services sociaux (CSSS), Office municipal d'habitation de Montréal (OMHM), Montréal Insectarium, as well as associations of building owners, tenants and pest control managers.

The Plan d'action régional de lutte contre les punaises de lit may be consulted on the Montréal website at habitermontreal.qc.ca and on the DSP site at santepub-mtl.qc.ca. The brochures “Don't let the bedbugs bite” and “Bedbugs - Identifying and controlling bedbugs” are available, free, in French and English, at borough offices, Accès Montréal offices and also at habitermontreal.qc.ca and santepub-mtl.qc.ca. A new joint website with additional information on bedbugs will be available online soon.