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International News

Canada: Crack Pipe End-Run Upsets Ottawa Mayor

January 14, 2008

On Friday, Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien demanded to know why the province has decided to fund a crack pipe distribution scheme in the city, a program that local councilors voted in July to defund. In December, Ontario announced it would provide $287,000 (U.S. $281,300) for the pipe program, which intends to prevent the transmission of diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV through pipe sharing.

"I wanted to express my disappointment with your government's decision after Ottawa City Council overwhelmingly decided last July to cancel this program," wrote O'Brien, whose letter was faxed Friday to Jim Watson, Ontario's Municipal Affairs and Housing minister and member of the provincial parliament for Ottawa West-Nepean. "Most distressing to me is that it appears this decision was taken without consultation with council or staff of the city of Ottawa."

The Somerset West Community Health Center applied to Ontario for the program grant. The city's chief medical officer, Dr. David Salisbury, had repeatedly urged the council to preserve the program, which he said saved lives and millions of dollars in medical expenses.

The province said the money would cover expenses for two outreach workers, supplies, and transportation in 2008.

Watson spokesperson Adam Grachnik said the minister's office had not yet received the letter. "We will forward that letter off to the Ministry of Health if and when it is received," he said, assuring that Watson intends to "get all the right answers."

Back to other news for January 2008

Adapted from:
Ottawa Citizen
1.14.2008; Geoff Nixon, Jessey Bird

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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