The City of Ottawa’s Clean Needle Syringe Program is an effective mandatory health program, which has been in operation since 1991. The availability of these programs have been deemed a necessary public health measure to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, primarily HIV and Hepatitis-C virus, and to minimize the risks associated with substance use in society.
Hours and venues of service
Site Needle & Syringe Program,
179 Clarence Street, Ottawa
Monday to Friday
8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Site mobile van travels to various locations within the City of Ottawa
7 days a week
5 pm to 11:30 pm
Collect calls accepted
Program services provided
- General counselling and support
- Health education/promotion
- Substance use counselling
- Harm Reduction supplies
- Needle/syringe disposal
- Condoms and lube
- Confidential hepatitis B and C testing
- Confidential testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis
- Hepatitis A/B and influenza vaccination
- Anonymous HIV testing
- Emergency Contraception (Plan B)
- Pregnancy testing
- Referral to health and social service agencies including drug treatment services
- Peer Overdose Prevention Program (POPP)
Site program goals and services:
To educate clients to reduce and avoid the risk of transmission of HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne pathogens by:
- Increasing awareness of the risks involved in needle sharing, other drug using behaviours and unprotected sex. To enhance the skills needed to change high-risk behaviours and/or maintain low and no risk behaviours.
- Providing accurate information on all modes of HIV transmission (including sexual transmission), testing and prevention.
Providing health education, needle exchange, and condom distribution. To encourage self-esteem in substance users and other clients and an awareness of health issues by:
- Increasing awareness of health status regarding HIV and hepatitis B and C by offering testing.
- Encouraging and providing hepatitis A/B and influenza vaccination.
- Providing health education, anonymous HIV testing, confidential testing for hepatitis B and C, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, provision of hepatitis A/B vaccine, HIV and hepatitis C counselling and partner follow-up.
To provide a supportive environment for substance users and other clients to access medical and social services by:
- Gaining a client's trust to a point of access for meeting their service and health care needs.
- Referring substance users to treatment, counselling services, medical and other social service supports.
- Providing crisis counselling, referrals to community agencies and drug treatment programs.
Over the past few years, accessibility of needle exchange and other harm reduction services in Ottawa have been greatly increased through partnerships with other agencies serving the same clientele. The Site Program currently has 15 partner agencies that deliver needle exchange services.
Both Site Program and partner agency staff are alert for, and take advantage of, opportunities to educate clients on the safe use of syringes/glass stems and other drug using equipment.
Carlington Community Health Centre
900 Merivale Road, 613-722-4000
Sandy Hill Community Health Centre
221 Nelson Street, 613-789-6309
454 King Edward Avenue,613-235-4351
Shepherd's of Good Hope
230 Murray Street, 613-241-6494
256 King Edward Avenue, 613-562-7845
507 Bank Street, 613-233-5626
Centretown Community Health Centre
420 Cooper Street, 613-233-4697
Somerset West Community Health Centre
55 Eccles Street, 613-238-1220
Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health
299 Montreal Road Vanier, 613-748-5999
Pinecrest-Queensway Health and Community Services
1365 Richmond Road, 2nd floor, 613-820-2001
Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa
147 Besserer Street, 613-241-7788
Operation Come Home
150 Gloucester Street, 613-230-4663
24 hour help line: 1-800-668-4663
Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa
311-211 Bronson Avenue, 613-237-7427
AIDS Committee of Ottawa
251 Bank Street, suite 700, 613-238-5014
Minwaashin Lodge – STORM Van
424 Catherine Street 613-265-7558
Ottawa Inner City Health
5 Myrand Ave. 613-562-4500
*no harm reduction services provided on site
Mandate of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care
In the late 1980's, the rate of HIV and Hepatitis B and C infection grew to epidemic proportions among injection drug users. The Ministry of Health acknowledged the urgent need to implement harm reduction strategies to control the epidemic. The human costs, as well as the financial burden HIV infection was placing on the health-care system, were a major concern.
The Ontario Ministry of Health, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act mandated that:
"The board of health shall ensure that injection drug users can have access to sterile injection equipment by the provision of needle and syringe exchange programs as a harm reduction strategy to prevent transmission of HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and other blood-borne infections and other associated diseases in areas where drug use is recognized as a problem in the community. The strategy shall also include counselling and education and referral to primary health services and addiction/treatment services. The board of health shall produce an annual report of program activities and forward a copy to the Minister of Health."