Crack addicts in Ottawa will continue receiving clean, free crack pipes next year. The Ontario government agreed to fund the program even though the city doesn't support it anymore.
David Jensen, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, confirmed Friday that the province will provide the $287,000 requested by the Somerset West Community Health Centre to run the crack pipe program for the next 12 months.
The program is intended to reduce the sharing of used crack pipes and therefore the spread of diseases such as Hepatitis C and AIDS.
The province had paid most of the program's costs since it started in 2005, but the City of Ottawa had covered about $7,500 a year until city council voted this past July to cut that money.
Jack McCarthy, director of the Somerset West Community Health Centre, said he is very pleased with the funding announcement, which will allow the centre to pay for two outreach workers, transportation and supplies.
His agency promised in July to continue running the program until at least the end of the year, and has been working with other agencies in an effort save it ever since.
"We've worked hard together to ensure this needed program, which is a very important health program, continues," he said. "We're very pleased."
The city councillor who brought forward the motion to cancelthe City of Ottawa's support for the programargued that there's no evidence the program works, and it sends mixed messages, since crack possession is illegal.
The city's medical officer of health and a University of Ottawa researcher have maintained that research data shows the program does reduce the spread of disease.