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Bedbug Problem Cannot be Scratched


The Rainbow Lodge has been a staple in our community for many years. An independent retirement home and Manitoba Housing complex where seniors can relax and enjoy their later years by socializing with each other in a healthy and safe environment.
Although, over the last four years, it has become a place of fear and infestation, for many residents, that seems to have no end.
“We moved in here in February of 2015,” said a Rainbow Lodge resident that wishes to remain anonymous. “I first found out about the problem that December by another tenant and that there had already been a problem for some months before that. We found our first bug just before that Christmas.”
Unfortunately, this was only the beginning in a three year long battle that saw the resident’s home sprayed 22 times. They believed the move into Rainbow Lodge would be a safer living establishment for them and their disabilities.
“We’ve been sprayed approximately 22 times since then.”
“Since 2014, staff have been at the building 38 times and have completed 590 individual treatments,” said a Manitoba Housing representative.
Receiving a treatment is not an easy process, especially for the residents with mobility issues.
“We do have staff that can meet with tenants, review what needs to be done in advance of a treatment, refer them to a “bug and scrub” program, or offer other resources that might be helpful,” said the Manitoba Housing representative.
All the furniture must be moved two feet from the walls, two-sided tape is laid in front of the door, clear caulking is suggested to be applied around baseboards, all bedding, towels and clothes must be bagged and put in the dryer in order to kill any bugs or growing eggs, and residents must be out of their units for four hours, 12 if there is a pet involved.
“We did all the work ourselves,” said the resident. “We had so many bags, about 25 large garbage bags, numerous boxes to move and small furnishings so we figured, being that we are both disabled, we were going to suffer moving that much any way we might as well just do it ourselves.”
“We recognize some tenants may face challenges so Manitoba Housing does move heavy items for tenants before and after pest treatments,” added the Manitoba Housing representative.
If a resident is unable to move items that do not qualify as heavy, they are required to pay out of their own pockets to have someone come in and assist them. For this reason, many have left their possessions packed away until they feel like unpacking is justified.
“After our first spray we lived out of boxes and bags, only taking out what was absolutely necessary,” said the resident. “It was like first moving in and being unable to unpack for many, many months. It’s had a huge impact on our family and made things very difficult and frustrating for all. It has been so bad in our unit that we could not sleep in our bed. We moved to the living room floor.”
The battle against the bugs continues as units in the building were recently treated again on April 27.
“Four units were fully treated based on recent activity and 13 additional units were inspected and treated as a precaution,” said a Manitoba Housing representative. “The common area lounge was also treated, though no live activity was found.”
Knowing that the problem continues to exist residents are in fear of contaminating those around them.
“I keep a couple of outfits fresh from the dryer in a sealed garbage bag so we can change before going anywhere,” said the resident. “I would be horrified if I passed the bugs to someone else and I don't think any one would appreciate it.”
Unfortunately, this has made residents question the decision to have ever moved in to the once beautiful and safe building. Had the residents been warned of the issue prior to moving in, they would have chosen a different location to build a life in.
“Local staff continue to support tenants to prepare units for treatment and address concerns,” said a Manitoba Housing representative. “Successful bedbug prevention is based on a solid partnership between Manitoba Housing and the tenant. It is extremely important that tenants report any concerns immediately. If one, or more units go unreported it can lead to higher concentrations of bedbugs throughout the building. However, if these areas are treated it may decrease future infestations.”
While the resident has been free of bugs for the past nine months, the fear of them returning is seemingly, just as awful.
“We still freeze and get scared that the bugs are back in our unit even if we see a small fly or beetle until we have a closer look at it,” said the resident.
“The building will never be bug free the way things are being handled. Only the units that have bugs and can actually prove it by taking in a live bug to the office get full sprays, meaning their mattresses and furniture, as well as, along the baseboards. The other units that get sprayed are the units next to, above, and below a unit getting a full spray and they only get along the baseboards done.”
Manitoba Housing says that full building sprays and fumigations are not done as we cannot apply chemical to units that have not been identified with activity or adjacent to a unit with activity.
They held a tenant education forum in Swan River in March where all tenants and supports were invited to attend to learn how to prevent bedbugs.
While the problem continues at Rainbow Lodge, unfortunately, it is not the only senior living facility affected in our Valley.
Fairhaven was recently identified to have a suite with activity and the treatment of this unit and adjacent units began April 25.
“This treatment will continue on a monthly basis with support provided from local staff,” said Manitoba Housing. “Also, if a suite is identified as having activity, preparation and treatment will begin within the same month and continue on the regular treatment schedule until building activity is no longer found. It is important to note that this particular building is not experiencing a widespread infestation and one area was found to have a high concentration of bedbugs that had not been reported to Manitoba Housing for approximately a year.”
Residents of both buildings, and members of the community surrounding are hoping for a more definite fix before the problem becomes widespread outside of the buildings’ affected.

Jakki Lumax