Statement by Ministers MacLeod, Scott, Jones and Mulroney on Human Trafficking Awareness Day
Today, Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues; Laurie Scott, Minister of Labour; Sylvia Jones, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services; and Caroline Mulroney, Attorney General issued the following statement about Human Trafficking Awareness Day:
“On February 22, we mark Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Ontario. It’s a day to encourage dialogue, support survivors, and to honour the memory of those who we failed to protect.
For years, Minister Scott made it her mission to shine a light on sex trafficking in every corner of Ontario, from rural and remote Indigenous communities, to urban centres like downtown Toronto. Her fierce advocacy served as a rallying cry and brought about the Saving the Girl Next Door Act in 2016.
Every one of us has a part to play.
Just last year, Minister MacLeod was honoured to help establish a sex trafficking roundtable with our federal, provincial and territorial counterparts, aimed at eradicating this heinous practice. Ontario provides help for survivors, as well as legal supports and initiatives to prevent the victimization of vulnerable youth transitioning out of care. There is also a dedicated, confidential, 24/7 provincial human trafficking helpline that provides information and service to support people impacted by this crime: 1-833-999-9211.
We have traveled across the province meeting with service providers, police officers and survivors of human trafficking, but sadly, many people have no idea that this is happening in their own communities. Raising awareness is an important part of protecting people from falling victim. We are proud of the great work done across the province to shed light on this issue, including the work to ensure that Health and Safety inspectors and Employment Standards Officers are trained to recognize the signs of human trafficking.
The pure evil of human trafficking underscores why our government believes victims must be at the centre of law enforcement. The recent operation in Barrie which rescued 43 labour human trafficking victims underscores the critical role of enforcement in the fight against human trafficking. On behalf of the Government for the People, Minister Jones expresses our province’s profound gratitude to the Barrie Police, the Ontario Provincial Police, Barrie and Area Victim Services, the Canadian Border Services Agency, and the County of Simcoe Paramedic Service for bringing these 43 people to safety. To be clear, it is our police officers and community safety partners who are on the front lines of the fight against modern slavery. Our government will continue to stand with our police heroes on the frontline working to ensure the security of the people.
We must recognize and understand that human trafficking dehumanizes, devalues and exploits people in our communities. Recognizing and understanding these uncomfortable truths are necessary to be a part of the chain of prevention and protection.
Human trafficking cannot continue, but it will if we ignore it and normalize it. We encourage everyone to learn the indicators, and to help by spreading awareness and talking openly about this terrible abuse. You could be helping to save a life.”