In a letter to Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, Martin says, "I accept that this type of public health issue is generally considered to be the jurisdiction of municipal or provincial health authorities, but I believe the scope and magnitude of this scourge of pestilence warrants guidance and leadership of the federal department of health."
While bed bugs do not spread disease, the small reddish-brown insects feed on human blood and sometimes leave itchy red welts. Infestations have been on the rise over the last 10 years. In Toronto alone, people have made more than 1,300 complaints to the city about the pests in apartments, hotels, office towers and movie theatres. Last week alone, outbreaks were reported in three communities in the North West Territories.
It is very difficult and expensive to get rid of bed bugs. People often have to get rid of their furniture, and the chemical and steam treatments must often be repeated.
Martin has asked Aglukkaq to convene a "conference of provincial and municipal health authorities to assess the extent of the infestation, share best practices of controlling it, and to develop recommendations that may help tenants and landlords alike cope with this public health emergency."