Harm reduction grumbles from suburban councillors

Ottawa’s city councillors aren’t done tampering with efforts to blunt the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C among the city’s drug users.

Their latest target is a city program that gives intravenous drug users clean needles. Such handouts reduce equipment sharing and help curb the spread of HIV and other and other blood-borne infections.

Three suburban councillors want health workers to restrict the distribution of needles to a one-for-one swap. Bob Monette (Orleans), Shad Qadri (Stittsville-Kanata) and Eli El-Chantiry (West Carleton) have asked the city’s legal department for advice before preparing a motion for councillors to debate.

Last summer, council voted to withdraw funding for the city’s safer inhalation program, which reduces new infections of HIV and hep C among crack smokers. New funding from the province has kept that program from closing, thanks to out gay health minister George Smitherman.

Marcus McCann

Marcus McCann is an employment and human rights lawyer, member of Queers Crash the Beat, and a part owner of Glad Day Bookshop. Before becoming a lawyer, he was the managing editor of Xtra in Toronto and Ottawa.

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