Oct 02, 2021

By Jeremy Logan

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Toronto is preparing to ask the federal government to decriminalize the possession of illicit drugs for personal use in the city.

It says the move is needed as drug-related deaths reach record highs.

A public consultation on the matter wrapped up this week, and the city’s top doctor says Toronto expects to send its request to Health Canada later this fall.

Vancouver made a similar request in May.

Toronto Public Health says it recorded 521 overdose-related deaths last year, up 78% from 2019.

City data also shows paramedics responded to 93 overdose calls involving death over the first three months of this year compared to 46 during the same period in 2020.

Councillor Joe Cressy, who chair’s Toronto’s board of health, says decriminalization is a key element in a series of measures needed to tackle the overdose crisis, alongside increased treatments.

He says other measures include increased harm reduction services and a safer drug supply.

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