Clean needle vending machines arrive in Ottawa

Ottawa residents will now be able to get clean needles and supplies for safer inhalation from vending machines placed outside four Ottawa community health centres. 

On Friday Ottawa Public Health installed vending machines outside the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, the Somerset West Community Health Centre, the Carlington Community Health Centre and the Ottawa Public Health Site Needle and Syringe Program on Clarence Street. 

The vending machines are part of a pilot project to provide clean needles, pipes and other items to drug users in Ottawa. The supplies will be available to drug users twenty-four hours a day. Right now the supplies can be obtained from inside the health centres during regular business hours.

The goal is to reduce the transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C.

To prevent supplies from getting into the wrong hands Ottawa Public Health requires drug users to obtain special tokens through its harm prevention program. When people access services for a token they will also be provided with education about safer drug use, safe equipment disposal and offered information about other health, social and treatment services available, according to Ottawa Public Health. The tokens will be good at any of the dispensing units. 

The pilot is expected to cost $20,000 to $25,000. Similar projects exist in Nevada and Vancouver.