TIMMINS -- The Opioid Emergency Response Task Force in Timmins wants the public to be aware of the potentially fatal illicit drug supply in the city.

“For the past week, there was a high volume of calls," said Patrick Nowak, a public health nurse with the Porcupine Health Unit. "The majority … occurred Sunday to this week, so the task force met and felt it was prudent or issue a drug alert."

Nowak said there've been 10 opioid overdose calls since last Wednesday -- and seven of those have been since Sunday. He said one person has died and so far, there have been more opioid overdose fatalities in the Timmins area this year compared to the same time period last year.

“We’ve had one fatality every week since November of 2020," said Jean Carriere, chief paramedic for Cochrane Emergency Medical Services. "That’s alarming. It’s a large amount of people who are overdosing and passing away from these poisonings."

Carriere and Nowak said the current local supply of illicit drugs is tainted.

"The drugs that are being utilized … have other mixtures in there that are causing people to overdose and pass away," said Carriere.

“We’ve seen not just in Timmins, in the Porcupine Health Unit Area, but across the province (that) there are other substances that are traditionally not opioid related that … have required Naloxone to reverse any potential side-effects," Nowak said.

"This includes things like meth, speed and or other stimulants that traditionally doesn’t contain opioids."

They said people who take drugs should not use alone and should carry multiple doses of Naloxone with them at all times, regardless of the substance they're consuming.

Carriere said it's time for a safe consumption site to be established in Timmins.

“We need a healthcare agency to step up, to take responsibility for the consumption site, and for it to be funded through the Ministry of Health or the LHIN or Ontario Health or the agencies that are responsible for that," he said.

Nowak also suggested calling the National Overdose Response Service phone number at 1-888-688-NORS (6677). He said someone will remain on the line with a person who's using drugs alone and will call for help if necessary.