The Health Unit wants the public to know that harm reduction services, including the needle exchange program, continue to operate in the community. These services are mandated by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and aim to reduce the adverse health, social, and economic consequences associated with drug use. Clinical Services Executive Director Cathy Menzies-Boulé says needle exchange programs benefit individuals who use drugs, and the community by keeping discarded syringes off the street. Menzies-Boulé says in addition, these programs offer a safe place for clients to access non-judgemental services, providing an opportunity to engage them with care.
The Northern Points Exchange Committee, made up of community partners like the Health Unit, the AIDS Committee of North Bay & Area, and The North Bay Regional Health Centre, are actively looking at ways to increase access to harm reduction services within our district. ACNBA Executive Director Stacey Mayhall says they support the community through their provision of in-agency and outreach services to ensure access to new syringes, collection of used syringes, safer inhalation kits, safer snorting kits and safer sex supplies. The North Bay Regional Health Centre Vice President of Mental Health Tanya Nixon says it’s important to continue with the work currently being done, and to collaborate to further the effort.
The Health Unit also welcomes any organization or business who share similar harm reduction values to become involved in the Northern Points Exchange. Additionally, the Health Unit is looking for new partners who are interested in becoming a new needle exchange site.