Ontario has passed new legislation to fight human trafficking which includes tools to raise awareness, better protect victims, support survivors and hold offenders accountable.
“This legislation will help to protect victims, support survivors and ensure offenders are held accountable and punished to the full extent of the law,” said Premier Doug Ford.
The new legislation includes two new acts – the Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy Act, 2021 and the Accommodation Sector Registration of Guests Act, 2021 – as well as amendments to the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 and the Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking Act, 2017.
Together, the acts aim to combat human trafficking by:
- Increasing awareness of the issue, supporting a long-term provincial response and emphasizing that all Ontarians have a role to play in combatting human trafficking;
- Supporting more survivors and the people who support them in obtaining restraining orders against traffickers, with specific consideration for Indigenous survivors;
- Strengthening the ability of children’s aid societies and law enforcement to protect exploited children;
- Increasing penalties for persons, including traffickers, who interfere with a child in the care of a children’s aid society; and,
- Clarifying how and when police services can access information from hotel guest registers to help deter trafficking and identify and locate victims, while establishing the power to include other types of accommodation providers, such as short-term rental companies.
The Combating Human Trafficking Act also requires companies that advertise sexual services to have a dedicated contact to support investigations into suspected human trafficking.
“This ground-breaking legislation makes Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada required to maintain an anti-human trafficking strategy, ensuring that combating this crime remains a priority into the future,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues.
Ontario is a hub for human trafficking, with the most police-reported incidents of human trafficking in the country occurring within the province in 2019.
The average age of recruitment into sex trafficking is approximately 13 years old. Almost 65 per cent of human trafficking victims identified by police are under the age of 25.