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Opinion

Correctional Service of Canada must do better

By Sandra Ka Hon Chu and Lorraine Whitman      

Denying access to a needle exchange program flies in the face of human rights and the spirit of the recommendations posed by both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry.

Canada's federal Correctional Investigator Ivan Zinger, pictured on Oct. 31, 2017, at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa, found that the Correctional Service of Canada’s prison needle exchange program is not actually benefiting prisoners because and the result is that few prisoners are accessing the program and are continuing to share and re-use needles, write Sandra Ka Hon Chu and Lorraine Whitman. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Needle exchange programs work. The science bears this up, with studies confirming that such programs drastically reduce the risk of HIV, hepatitis C, and other serious infections, and of overdose. Crucially, they also facilitate prisoners’ access to drug treatment and other health care. But when they are designed to limit access, none of these benefits will be realized.

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