Toronto's chief medical officer of health is calling on the federal government to decriminalize the personal use of all drugs as part of a strategy to treat addiction as a public health matter.
"Some people who use drugs are more impacted by our drug laws than others, including people who are homeless or living in poverty, people with mental health and substance use issues and youth".
The report will also recommend the City should scale up prevention, harm reduction, and treatment services.
The recommendation comes following a public consultation process that found many Torontonians don't believe the current approach to dealing with drugs is working - especially with opioid-overdose deaths reaching record levels across Canada.
A statement released Monday by Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, says, "while considerable work has been done, the situation remains urgent and too many people are still dying".
"The criminalization of people who take drugs is contributing to the overdose emergency because it forces people into unsafe drug use practices and creates barriers to seeking help".
Dr.de Villa made those recommendations to the Toronto board of health, asking it to put pressure on the provincial and federal governments.
De Villa is also urging the federal government to consider going one step further, striking a task force that could explore the idea of legalising and strictly regulating all drugs, echoing the approach now used for alcohol. De Villa's report seems to agree.
The report will be presented to the Board of Health next Monday.
The research, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Toronto Public Health, suggests Toronto residents support drug use being treated as a public health and social issue instead of a criminal one. There were 303 opioid overdose deaths in Toronto previous year - a 63 per cent increase from 2016 and a 121 per cent increase from 2015 - according to Toronto Public Health, citing preliminary data from the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario.