Needle issue needs to be sorted out

I want to know why Parksville city council is so set in its ways on something that can affect the lives of people living here, despite the warnings by Dr. Paul Hasselback over council’s decisions on the needle exchange program being set up in the city?

There is only one objective with a needle exchange program, which is public safety. That means not only the safety of those injecting drugs but also the rest of the population and the only way to do that is get as many used needles off the street as possible.

As a former industrial first aid attendant the needle issue is a very touchy subject with me. While trying to remove a glass sliver from a patient’s finger, the needle slipped and I pricked my finger. I would hate to see a child step on a used needle, have to go on anti-viral drugs, and the parents having to wait months to see if their child has come down with AIDS or hepatitis C.

The big issue between Dr. Hasselback and Mayor Mayne seems to be over the peer-to-peer exchange of needles. That idea could create a problem if it isn’t mainly an exchange, which keeps the general public safe from discarded needles. But it might be worth trying in the short term as it would mean more clean needles getting out there to keep those using drugs safer.

No matter if it is a council approved site or a peer-to-peer exchange, you can never have a 100% return rate if you want the program to be successful. The two gentlemen at the heart of this issue should be able to come up with a solution.

The most important thing I learned about the homeless and/or drug users while working on the problem in Chilliwack is that these people are like all the rest of us.

When they are treated with respect and caring, they become part of society and a lot of the problems this city is facing on the issue will go away.

John Pritchard


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