Harm Reduction

Philosophy and Practice

Harm Reduction is a philosophy that supports the development of policies and programs that help people address the harmful effects of substance use including overdose, HIV, Hepatitis C, addiction, poverty, violence, isolation, homelessness and incarceration. Harm reduction programs promote methods of reducing the physical, social, emotional, and economic harms associated with drug and alcohol use and other harmful behaviors on individuals and their community.

Harm Reduction embodies certain principles including:
  • Pragmatism: accepts the near universal human cultural phenomenon of non-medical substance use.
  • Human Rights: respects the basic human dignity and rights of all people who use drugs.
  • Focus on Harms: prioritizes decreasing the negative consequences of drug use to the user and others.
  • Maximize Intervention Options: avoids a one-size-fits-all approach to interventions and recognizes the importance of a variety of different approaches.
  • Priority of Immediate Goals: meets the person where they are at and focuses on incremental gains that can be built over time.
  • Drug User Involvement: empowers drug users to join with service providers to determine the best interventions to reduce harm from drug use.
Harm Reduction Programs in Yukon:
  • Free confidential needle exchanges
  • Safe crack kits
  • Outreach nursing services
  • Drop-in programs for support, coffee, food
  • Outreach counselling
  • Health education programs
Referral & Advocacy Services:
  • Food, water, hats, socks, mittens
  • Free condoms
  • Hot meal programs
  • Drug substitution (Methadone) program
Status of Harm Reduction in Canada

While some Harm Reduction programs such as Free Needle Exchange are well established in many places in Canada, new and innovative programs such as Safe Crack Kits, Safe Injection Sites, and Harm Reduction programs for prisoners, etc., continue to be threatened and tend to be sporadic in terms of availability in Canada.

Many harm reduction programs, even those well established, struggle with inadequate funding and lack of resource people. Harm Reduction is not well understood as a philosophy and practice resulting in federal government dollars being spent primarily on enforcement tactics for dealing with drug problems. It is estimated that 95% of government resources in the fight against drugs goes to criminal law measures while harm reduction, prevention and treatment programs share the remaining 5%. Despite this chronic underfunding, adequately resourced and funded harm reduction programs have been proven time and again as effective.

Ensuring barrier free access to harm reduction programs is the best and first thing we can do to reduce the harmful effects of drug use. Blood Ties will continue to seek partners to promote this message through advocacy and education.

Obtaining and Returning Needles in Whitehorse

Blood Ties Four Directions Centre
307 Strickland St.
Weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
(867) 633-2437

No-Fixed Address Outreach Van
Monday to Saturday from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m.
(867) 334-1647

Yukon Communicable Disease Control
#4 Hospital Rd.

Whitehorse Health Centre
9010 Quartz Rd.
Weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Kwanlin Dün First Nation Health Centre
43 McIntyre Rd.
Weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon and 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.

In Yukon communities, please contact your local health centre.

  • Call Blood Ties Four Directions Centre at (867) 633-2437
    Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Don’t put your hands anywhere there might be a needle hidden.
If you find a needle that has been thrown away, follow these steps:
  • If possible, have someone stay with the needle to prevent someone else from getting poked, especially a child.
  • During business hours, call Blood Ties at (867) 633-2437.
  • After hours, call the Outreach Van at (867) 334-1647.
  • Never use your hands to pick up a needle!
  • Call the RCMP or the local Community Health Centre for advice.
  • If possible, have someone stay with the needle to prevent anyone from getting poked, especially a child.
  • Never use your hands to pick up a needle!
  • Immediately call Yukon Communicable Disease Control at (867) 667-8323 or Whitehorse General Hospital at (867) 393-8700