Needle Safe Saskatoon, a partnership between Saskatoon Health Region, Saskatoon Fire and Protective Services and a number of other community partners, has created a new Needle Safety and Disposal Information Line (655-4444) as part of a community public health service.

“One of the things we’ve been hearing is that people often don’t know what to do or who to call when they find a loose needle on the ground. The information line was created as an additional resource that residents can call to find out about options to safely dispose of needles to create cleaner, safer communities,” said Dr. Johnmark Opondo, Chairperson, Needle Safe Saskatoon.

Community members who call 655-4444 are provided with information about six options:
1) How to dispose of needles found in a home or yard located on private property;
2) How to dispose of needles found in a public park, street or alley;
3) How to dispose of needles required for medical reasons, such as diabetes;
4) How businesses and medical offices can dispose of needles;
5) How to access a needle clean-up kit, including information on how to make one or receive needle clean-up supplies for free; and
6) A complete list of all drop box locations within the City.

Needle Safety and Disposal Information Line

In just one year, Needle Safe Saskatoon experienced a 55-per-cent drop in the number of improperly discarded needles being found in Saskatoon communities – 25,107 loose needles were collected in 2008 compared to 11,216 collected in 2009.

“Saskatoon Fire and Protective Services continues to pick up needles throughout the City as part of our mandate to provide protective services” stated Assistant Chief Dan Paulsen. “We welcome the initiatives that have lead to a decrease in the number of needles picked up in 2009.”

The drop in numbers can be attributed to the following factors:
• In 2009, eight additional drop boxes were installed throughout the City, bringing the total number to 20 (11 are located throughout the community and nine are at fire stations);
• Increased public education around safe needle disposal;
• The addition of two more needle exchange sites in the City, provided by AIDS Saskatoon and Saskatoon Tribal Council’s SHARP program;
• Education awareness and clean-up provided by Community Street Patrollers, a partnership between Riversdale Business Development and Needle Safe Saskatoon; and
• Increased participation in annual community clean-ups, in addition to the ongoing clean-up of parks provided by the City of Saskatoon.