Rob Ford learns to say yes to gravy by saying no to bedbugs (and yes, for now, to nurses)
Toronto’s on-again, off-again relationship with public health nurses is now back on again, as the city’s budget committee forged a compromise yesterday designed to get past Mayor Rob Ford’s veto of any new staff. The compromise motion will say yes to the nurses—fully funded by the Ontario government—with the proviso that the positions be cancelled if provincial money dries up.
The conditions were championed by Councillor Doug Ford. “The mayor is committed to attacking the bed-bug problem… However, we want to fix the problem as quickly as possible, not create a permanent industry of civil servants to study the problem. We need action,” said Councillor Ford, vice-chairman of the budget committee. “I’ve been here for eight months and I’ve seen more studies than you can shake a stick at.”
The trio of nurses will provide education, outreach and health assessments of people whose homes have been overrun by the pests. The McGuinty government is also granting Toronto Public Health $1.2-million in one-time funding to keep up the bed-bug offensive. The funding must still be approved by Mayor Ford’s executive and city council.
Particularly noteworthy is the statement by budget chief Mike Del Grande about why the mayor’s allies relented on nurses: “We listen… Even though people claim that we don’t.” Councillors were apparently flooded with 3,000 emails, and they listened, albeit somewhat grudgingly. So here’s to a small example of public engagement actually working in this city, a welcome change from the scene a few weeks back. A little more of this kind of engagement and this city might finally vanquish what has to be everyone’s common enemy: the bedbug.