Armed with not just a problem but also a potential solution, Mayor Greg Dionne is saying enough is enough when it comes to finding used syringes in Prince Albert.
“Every spring we have a problem with needles,” he said adding that it’s a problem that’s continuously popped up during his decade on city council.
Recently, a constable with the Prince Albert Police Service presented Dionne with a potential solution -- an idea he’s hit the ground running with.
“We give 10 cents out to return bottles and cans,” Dionne relayed. “Why don’t in the spring you put a program together where you train 20 to 30 people to go and pick up needles and pay them 10 cents a needle?”
During the period of April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013, the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region’s Straight to the Point Harm Reduction Program’s needle exchange handed out 1,278,150 needles.
During this same timeframe they received 1,196,854 used needles – a shortfall of 81,196 needles.
Citing the city’s strong transient population, health region communications officer Doug Dahl noted that it’s difficult to say the 81,196 needles constitute a shortfall.
“Not everyone who gets needles at the needle exchange program stays in Prince Albert,” he said, implying that some people take the needles with them.
On the flipside, Dionne notes, “the transients could have brought that number of needles back in, as well.”
We give 10 cents out to return bottles and cans,” Dionne relayed. “Why don’t in the spring you put a program together where you train 20 to 30 people to go and pick up needles and pay them 10 cents a needle? Mayor Greg Dionne
Suffice to say, Dionne said, there are many needles out there -- a problem he insists shouldn’t result in criticism against the city’s needle exchange program.
“I do believe there’s a health benefit to the (clean) needles,” he said. “It’s going to stop hepatitis C, AIDs and other diseases spreading from sharing of needles, but we have to come up with a better way to get these needles discarded off our streets and out of our parks.”
Dionne said that he plans on sending a letter to the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region requesting funding of $30,000 to initiate a needle pickup program.
“I think it’s worth the discussion,” he concluded.
Earlier this year, Parkland Ambulance Care public affairs director Lyle Karasiuk told the Daily Herald that the occurrence of someone accidentally sticking themselves with a needle and requiring attention from paramedics is very rare in Prince Albert.
Needles should only be used once, not only to prevent them from being shared, but also since repeated use easily dulls and barbs needles, which can in turn tear up veins.