This is something I meant to write about ages ago – but have only now had the chance.
The mayor of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, the small town in Northern Saskatchewan where I got my start as a daily newspaper reporter, proposed a-cash-for-discarded-needles/syringes plan.
I can appreciate what he was trying to do, which is deal with constant pressure from the public to make sure no used needles show up on city streets and when they do have a good program in place to remove them.
Some context, if a needle is spotted by an adult in Prince Albert the person has to choices. One is to pick it up and safely dispose it in a plastic container, like a water bottle or coffee can or something, the other is to call the fire department.
In the past health officials did a great job of telling the public that used needles could be dangerous, this means that a lot of people opt to call the fire department.
My guess is that the mayor was looking for a way to get the fire department out of picking up needles.
Here’s the thing though – if you put a price on returned syringes, why would any one of the people that make up the current 89 per cent return rate, bring back a needle?
Wouldn’t people want to cash in on their commodity? And many of those people who are looking to cash in are likely the ones with injection drug issues to begin with, so the play would have them receiving money, which in a lot of cases would then go to pay for their addiction.
It’s my understanding, at least at the time I learned about this, that the health region had not met with the mayor to figure out if this plan would work. I’m hoping when they do, they can come up with a better plan.