$72 million Ontario strategy to fight human trafficking

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Ontario will invest up to $72 million in an anti-human trafficking strategy aimed at increasing awareness and coordination, enhancing justice-sector initiatives and improving survivors’ access to services.  (“Human trafficking” is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, coercion, deception, repeated provision of a controlled substance) for an illegal purpose, including sexual exploitation or forced labour.)

Ontario is a major centre for human trafficking in Canada, accounting for roughly 65 percent of police-reported cases nationally.  Drawing on feedback from experts and community partners as well as successful initiatives from other Canadian jurisdictions, the new Strategy to End Human Trafficking focuses on four areas of action:

  • Prevention and Community Supports that will increase awareness and understanding of the causes of human trafficking, and improve community services like housing, mental health services, trauma counselling, and job skills training to meet the immediate and long-term needs of survivors.
  • Enhanced Justice Sector Initiatives that will support effective intelligence-gathering and identification, investigation and prosecution of human trafficking.
  • Indigenous-Led Approaches that will support culturally relevant services and responses — designed, developed, and delivered jointly with Indigenous partners.
  • Provincial Coordination and Leadership, including the development of a provincial Anti-Human Trafficking Coordination Office to help improve collaboration across law enforcement, justice, social, health, education, and child welfare sectors.
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The Str ategy to End Human Trafficking delivers on Premier Kathleen Wynne’s commitment made in February 2016 to address human trafficking and is a part of the government’s vision to ensure that everyone in the province can live in safety — free from the threat, fear or experience of exploitation and violence.

“Human trafficking is a deplorable crime and human rights violation that robs the safety, livelihood and dignity of those who are being exploited and abused. We are committed to keeping women – and all Ontarians – safe. The release of this strategy reinforces our continued dedication to this cause,” said Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues.

David Orazietti, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, said: “Ontario is committed to protecting and supporting survivors of human trafficking and working to prevent this heinous crime in the future. We have clearly heard from those on the front-lines of this issue that there needs to be sustained supports to help survivors repair their lives, more training to help our justice sector partners investigate and prosecute these crimes, and deeper coordination at every level to fight human trafficking. Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking delivers on all of these fronts in a way that focuses on the well being of survivors and holds offenders accountable.”

  • Of Ontario’s reported cases of human trafficking, about 70 per cent are for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and the majority of survivors are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
  • Individuals who are most vulnerable as targets for human trafficking include Indigenous people, young women, at-risk youth, youth in care, migrant workers, and persons with mental health and addiction issues.
  • In many cases of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, trafficked persons may develop “trauma bonds” with their traffickers, and may not view themselves as victims. As such, human trafficking is believed to be a vastly underreported crime. – CINEWS
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