A woman living with her son in a Saskatchewan Housing apartment complex in the Eastview neighbourhood of Saskatoon wants something done about the rodents in her building.
Dominika Kosowska has lived in Sturby Place with her 9-year-old son for seven years and in that time, the pest situation has gotten worse.
“In recent months I haven’t slept through the night because there are rats; not even mice at this point, but rats everywhere,” Kosowska told CTV News.
She took a photo of a small rat she caught recently, even taking the photo to a farmer friend who confirmed it was a baby rat.
She’s switched units once since she moved into the apartment complex on Arlington Avenue because the first apartment had mice.
She thought if she moved from the ground floor to the third floor, it would solve the problem.
It’s only gotten worse, Kosowska says.
She doesn’t leave any food in boxes or in open containers to help deter the pests. She still spends hours trying to rectify the problem herself.
“I spent ten hours on Sunday plugging the holes and putting the traps in only to find more rats the next day and more holes,” she says.
The potential for disease from the rats and mice is troubling for her and her son who also has respiratory issues that have surfaced in the last four years. All of it is part of her growing concern.
“My mental health is deteriorating, with sleepless nights, inability to work; vacuum up droppings; clean,” she said.
With a master’s degree in education having worked in her home of Poland and England she’s now trying to diversify her qualifications in the hopes of finding another job here. She lost her job during the pandemic.
Kosowska has contacted Sask. Housing many times over the years. She says she was dismissed at first.
“ ’Maybe you’re just hearing things,’ so that was dismissed right away,” she said.
The Ministry of Social Services offered this statement.
“If a tenant raises concerns about pests, staff will inspect the unit, do treatments and continue to monitor with further inspections until the issue is resolved.”
But those treatments according to the frustrated tenant are an ineffective band aid.
“They tell me to have more traps, have more sticky traps, have more poison is in the corner. I’ll come in two weeks and will check,” she says.
It’s unacceptable according to the Saskatoon Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP).
“Healthy housing is a human right and so being able to access that housing and being able to ensure that it’s free of anything that could prove dangerous like mice — that’s a human right,” Brenna Sych, with SHIP told CTV News.
“Who wants to listen to poor people. We are being called marginalized,” according to Kosowska.
Even despite that view, she is hoping to advocate for others in her building – many are newcomers she says, who have limited English and are afraid to speak up.
“They’re terrified that they will be evicted.”
Sask. Housing did contact Kosowska Wednesday afternoon saying they will work to find her a new place. But she says they’ve said that before, with no changes.
That doesn’t fix the issue in the building for others who have no voice, says Kosowska.