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Harm reduction grumbles from suburban councillors

Ottawa’s city councillors aren’t done tampering with efforts to blunt the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C among the city’s drug users.

Their latest target is a city program that gives intravenous drug users clean needles. Such handouts reduce equipment sharing and help curb the spread of HIV and other and other blood-borne infections.

Three suburban councillors want health workers to restrict the distribution of needles to a one-for-one swap. Bob Monette (Orleans), Shad Qadri (Stittsville-Kanata) and Eli El-Chantiry (West Carleton) have asked the city’s legal department for advice before preparing a motion for councillors to debate.

Last summer, council voted to withdraw funding for the city’s safer inhalation program, which reduces new infections of HIV and hep C among crack smokers. New funding from the province has kept that program from closing, thanks to out gay health minister George Smitherman.