A national multilingual, accessible hotline to help victims and survivors of human trafficking is now taking calls, with the organization behind the service saying it hoped the new resource would also fill crucial gaps in public knowledge about the issue.
The line is meant to serve as a one-stop shop for everyone from victims seeking help, to tipsters wanting to flag a potential case, to members of the public wanting to learn more about the subject.
The toll-free hotline will be available 24 hours a day throughout the year. Call takers will be able to field queries in more than 200 languages, including a number of Indigenous languages.
The line will also be accessible to the deaf, hard-of-hearing and non-verbal, Gosse said. An accompanying website has also been designed to be accessible to the blind and visually impaired, she added.
In addition to connecting victims and survivors with community resources and enlisting law enforcement on prospective cases, the hotline will help close a critical knowledge gap by collecting data on the prevalence of human trafficking.
The hotline was funded by the federal government, which pledged $14.5 million over five years in its most recent budget to get the project off the ground.
In a 2018 study, which looked at police-reported incidents up to 2016, StatsCan found that 95 per cent of human trafficking victims were women. It further found that 72 per cent were under the age of 25, and 26 per cent were younger than 18.
The same study found that two-thirds of reported incidents between 2009 and 2016 took place in Ontario.
The new hotline can be reached 24 hours a day at: 1-833-900-1010.
Deaf and non-verbal hotline users should dial 711 in any province or territory, then ask the relay service to connect them with the main hotline number. -CINEWS