Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Harm reduction continues to grow throughout Canada. With this, there is the provision of Naloxone kits, harm reduction trailers and sites, as well as clean needles for injection drug users. But there have been some reactions from the public on the government to clean up problems with drug use waste, especially intravenous drug user waste such as needles and syringes. There are discarded syringes, which some see as posing a health risk to the general public.

There have been volunteers in parks. They have been tasked with cleaning up various paraphernalia of drugs. Some suggest needle exchange programs are part of the problem with the waste. However, the experts and the public health workers such as social workers and nurses, and researchers, on the ground state that those programs are in fact part of the solution.

There have been rubber gloves and garbage bags put out by volunteers in Ontario and New Brunswick. Some citizens have been taking pictures of needles in some of their local areas and posting them on social media, for public commentary and complaint.

Vancouver Coast Health, as a public agency, is providing needle exchange is as well as safe injection sites for drug users who inject.

That agency provides healthcare for about 1/4 of the British Colombia population. Even though they have been more needles discarded, there has been a “dramatic decline in HIV cases” among the British Colombia drug user population. Those that inject.

Professor Carol Strike from the University of Toronto said, “I’d be concerned if I found a needle in my community, and if I didn’t know a lot about the programs I might make assumptions about where the needle came from and how many there are … the programs that I’ve worked with across the country … don’t want needles in the community either. That’s why they exist, not only to give out needles, but to dispose of them properly,”
This is part of an ongoing public conversation.


Goffin, P. (2017, November 7). Residents raise concerns about discarded needles, public health workers say harm reduction programs part of solution. Retrieved from