Ottawa Public Health officials insist steps are being taken to clean up discarded drug paraphernalia after dirty needles were recently dumped in a Byward Market restaurant toilet and a six-year-old boy was pricked in Carlington.
“Every time we talk to someone who’s using drugs, we counsel them about safe disposal of their equipment,” said associate medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches.
For addicts who pick up supplies, “we give them safe disposal boxes, so they get biohazard containers to put their needles in,” said Etches.
“What businesses can do is they can contact us at 311 and they can ask about needle disposal and we’ll provide them with those biohazard boxes.”
Working with community partners, OPH ensures there are black boxes around the community for proper disposal, said Etches.
It’s also needle hunting season.
Since 1998, needle hunters have been working the streets of the ByWard Market/Lowertown, Centretown, Hintonburg, Vanier, and Carlington from April 1st to November 30th each year, seven days a week.
“Those people can be dispatched where there’s need, but they have regular routes as well,” said Etches.
In addition, the city has an integrated strategy for collection.
“So any city staff person, whether it’s a bus driver, or a garbage collector, or a public health person — they are all trained and equipped to pick up needles,” Etches said.
If you see a needle or pipe, call 311.