OTTAWA, Ontario — Toronto's top public health official is calling for the decriminalization of all drugs as a way to curb rising overdoses.

Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa says Canada's current stance on drugs "forces people into unsafe drug use practices and creates barriers to seeking help."

She wants Toronto's Board of Health to pressure the federal government on decriminalization and for better harm-reduction and treatment services.

Monday's statement follows a survey by Toronto Public Health that concluded most Torontonians want drug use treated as a social issue, not a criminal one.

Canada's government already has approved legalization of marijuana, taking effect on Oct. 17.

A government report last month registered 3,987 opioid-related deaths in 2017, most involving fentanyl, which is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin.