Bear Clan Patrol co-founder, James Favel, is calling on the health authority and the province to bring safe consumption sites to Winnipeg.
On Friday he was out in an area in Winnipeg notorious for dirty needles and was cleaning them up when he got poked for the first time ever.
He was collecting the needles in a 2L pop bottle because he had run out of a proper needle disposal container when one poked through and jabbed him in the thigh.
He said sheer panic hit, but he said he was lucky it was him because he knew what to do next.
He feared the poke could transfer HIV in to his system, but when he arrived at the hospital he was told it hadn’t. However, he’s not out of the woods yet. He was tested for Hepatitis B and C and received several injections and will have to continue that again for a few months.
“My main concern with what happened to me is if it was a child who doesn’t know what could happen, they may not have sought help,” Favel said.
Favel said while the needles won’t disappear from the streets of Manitoba considers a safe consumption site, he believes it’ll help at the very least.
“I recognize safe consumption sites will not be the answer for all our problems here but they will eliminate some of the waste here, and that’s what we need, we need some protections here,” Favel said.
Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said the idea of safe consumption sites isn’t off the table for Manitoba, but he’s still yet to see proof it’ll eliminate the needles from the streets of Winnipeg.
Favel said, at least it could be a start.
“We need something more proactive done about these kinds of situations,” Favel said.
Over the last three years, the city saw a skyrocket in the number of calls for needles to be picked up off the streets of Winnipeg. The calls doubling between 2016 and 2017.
- 2015: 107
- 2016: 231
- 2017: 434
A spokesperson for the city said, the numbers are not necessarily reflective of the number of needles picked up.
“We could receive several reports for one needle and no reports for others that we’ve picked up,” the spokesperson said.
Canada currently has 16 active safe consumption sites across the country.
- British Columbia: 7
- Ontario: 4
- Quebec: 4
- Alberta: 1
Street Connections through the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is currently running a study to evaluate whether a safe consumption site would benefit the streets of Winnipeg.