With Health Canada's permission, street drugs can now be consumed inside Safe Health Site Timmins.

Beginning Monday, people struggling with addiction can go there to inject their pre-obtained substances under the supervision of trained staff.

“We do hope to see for the community at large that if they know someone who uses substances, there's a safe place for them," said Patrick Nowak, manager of the addictions program at Timmins and District Hospital.

"We also hope to see decreases in 911 calls, we hope to see less discarded needles and things like that in the community."

There are three consumption booths, each equipped with sterile injection supplies.

"We have the mirrors there so nurses at the other end of the nursing station can sort of watch to make sure there's nothing medically wrong," said Nowak.

People can also get information on site about other local health services.

Dr. Louis Marion-Bellemare said opening Safe Health Site Timmins is an important milestone, but more work needs to be done because it's only a temporary site.

“The Timmins Area Drug Strategy and many other community organizations and leaders are still working vigorously on a permanent site," Marion-Bellemare said.

"That site takes quite a bit of time and we have to get special exemptions from the government and we are still actively working on that and we’re getting closer every day to a permanent site.”

Fifteen new jobs have been created at Safe Health Site Timmins, including nurses, nurse practitioners, harm reduction workers and patient engagement and safety staff members.

Retired police chief John Gauthier will be one of them.

“I’m not done yet. I need to keep serving the community in some form and I'm glad to do it this way," said Gauthier.

In the past two years, health officials said Timmins has had alarmingly high death rates due to suspected drug overdoes, ranking second in the province in 2020 and fourth last year.

The City of Timmins provided $1 million to establish the site.