Pubdate: Tue, 23 Oct 2001
Source: Canadian Champion, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2001 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing Ltd
Author: Richard Vivian


The Halton Region Needle Exchange Program is set to move beyond the pilot 
project stage.

The Region's health and social services committee members passed a motion 
last Tuesday that will see the program -- named Exchange Works -- become a 
permanent health department program subject to the approval of the 2002 
operating budget.

The annual Exchange Works budget is estimated at $81,000.

Regional council is expected to formally address the matter tomorrow.

"Based on the information we have right now, we feel the program needs to 
continue," Halton's Medical Health Officer Dr. Bob Nosal told the 
committee. "So much of this depends on the contacts and networking that 
takes place and that's what has been the focus so far."

Exchange Works began operation in May, developing partnerships with service 
agencies, creating educational material for injection drug users and 
conducting outreach work. Needle exchanges have also been organized at the 
Sexual Health Clinics in Milton, Burlington, Acton and Georgetown, though 
to date, none have been used.

"It's very slow gaining the trust of users because of the illegal nature of 
injection drug use," explained Denise Mousseau, Hamilton community outreach 
worker and representative on the Halton Needle Exchange Advisory Committee. 
"The key to outreach is that it's client driven."

The mobile exchange service has seen substantially more success, said 
Halton outreach worker Cecil McDougall. To date, 78 individuals have used 
the needle exchange.

"We've made a conscious effort here in Halton to ensure we also include 
those who inject steroids. The concern being that young people might be 
exposed to the sharing of needles," Mr. McDougall said.

While the program received the support of the committee, a pair of 
councillors expressed disappointment in the need to spend taxpayer dollars 
for a needle exchange. "I'm going to support it, but I have to tell you I 
definitely have difficulty with it," said Oakville Councillor Jack Dennison.

Added Milton Councillor Richard Malboeuf, "You're not alone."
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