Ottawa Public Health (OPH) a pilot trial of harm reduction dispensing units in Ottawa


OPH is exploring a pilot project to introduce harm reduction dispensing units in Ottawa. The purpose is to address the need for greater access to supplies during times of the day when agencies are closed.


This follows from studies and surveys conducted in 2013, 2014 and 2016 as well as from a report approved by the Board of Health in June 2016 on enhancing harm reduction services in our community


This is within existing budget and will be 100% provincially funded. The locations for these pilot units has not been confirmed but a few community partners have expressed their interest to participate in the pilot trial – to have a unit outside their existing services for times when services are closed.


Harm reduction services (distribution of safer drug use materials) are designed to prevent harms such as transmission of HIV and hepatitis C by reducing re-use or sharing of these materials and to connect people with support social services.


The intention is not to replace front-line services, rather to compliment them – to ensure that people can access during times of the day when services are closed. We recognize the value of front-line contact, and opportunity for support and referral to other services (mental health, treatment) and will encourage people to attend services to access this support.  We don’t expect to lose existing clients to distribution units as clients value the human contact, and rely on our nursing services such as HIV testing and referral to other community supports such as addiction counseling and treatment.