Needle Syringe Programs

In Ontario, there are 36 regional Public Health Units. All regions offer Safer Injecting Supplies through Needle Syringe Programs and/or Mobile Outreach. NSPs offer sterile, single-use injection equipment such as: needles, syringes, alcohol swabs, acidifiers, non-latex tourniquets, sterile filters, sterile cookers and sterile water in the quantity requested by the service user. Many programs also offer Safer Smoking Supplies. While each Needle Syringe Program acts as a needle exchange site, meaning clients can drop off used supplies for safe disposal as well as replenish their equipment, clients are not required to ‘trade in’ used equipment in order to gain access to supplies and services.

There are more than 300 access points across Ontario offering free harm reduction supplies. For locations, visit Find a Needle Syringe Program.

In addition to harm reduction supplies, service users are provided with educational resources surrounding harm reduction, health and social services, and non-judgmental, equitable service.

Needle Syringe Programs across the province of Ontario are strongly encouraged to follow the best practice guidelines for needle and syringe distribution and program policies1:

Best Practice

Best Practice:

Use a sterile needle and syringe for each injection to reduce transmission of HIV, hepatitis C (HCV), hepatitis B (HBV), and other pathogens

Program Policies:

  • Place no limit on the number of needles provided per client, per visit, without requiring clients to return used needles
  • Encourage clients to return and/or properly dispose of used needles and syringes
  • Offer a variety of needle and syringe types by gauge, size, and brand that meet the needs of clients
  • Educate clients about the risks of using non-sterile needles
  • When distributing needles, offer all other supplies necessary for safer injection

While not distributed by the OHRDP, it is imperative for all Needle Syringe Program service providers to be aware of the safe and proper use of needles and syringes, proper disposal practices, and the dangers associated with the individual reuse and sharing of these pieces of equipment. Please contact your local Public Health Unit and/or NSP for more information.

1. Strike C, Hopkins S, Watson T, Gohil H, Young S, Buxton J et al. Best practice recommendations for harm reduction programs: needle and syringe distribution, other injecting equipment distribution, safer crack kit distribution (interim version). 2012.