Pubdate: Thu, 17 Apr 2008
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Melissa Coleman


Re: $200,000 sought for needle cleanup, April 15.

Harm reduction programs such as the needle exchange and crack pipe in 
Ottawa and across Canada are supported and funded by the provincial 
and federal governments. It is part of a three-level public health 
approach to keep Canadians healthy and limit risks from the 
infectious diseases circulating in our communities.

Council must choose a new medical officer of health who will obey 
these laws and enforce our national drug policy using his or her best 
professional medical advice and with a strong commitment to 
protecting the good health of Ottawa's citizens. Dr. David Salisbury 
who is leaving this post, had tried to implement this policy but he 
encountered opposition from Ottawa police Chief Vern White.

The lion's share of our taxes and support has been spent on the 
fourth pillar of policy to reduce use of drugs -- law enforcement. 
But that has been a miserable failure -- drugs and related criminal 
activity increasing despite billions of dollars spent annually. Only 
a tiny fraction of funding goes to the first three pillars:

- - Prevention with public education;

- - Treatment for substance abuse with outpatient and residential counselling;

- - Harm reduction to reduce spread of deadly infectious diseases.

Ottawa City Council has a responsibility to be part of the solution 
to Canada's drug problem. I recommend council and its new medical 
officer of health focus on the first three pillars of drug policy 
before the failed fourth pillar -- law enforcement -- brings the 
whole structure down.

Melissa Coleman, Ottawa
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom