Ontario Introduces Legislation to Protect Human Trafficking Survivors
Province Increasing Protections and Holding Traffickers Accountable
As part of Ontario's Strategy to End Human Trafficking, Minister of the Status of Women, Indira Naidoo-Harris, introduced legislation today that would, if passed, increase protection for survivors and those at risk of human trafficking.
The Anti-Human Trafficking Act, 2017 would create two statutes, Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking Act, 2017 and Human Trafficking Awareness Day Act, 2017. These statutes, if passed, would:
- Allow individuals to apply for restraining orders against human traffickers
- Make it easier for survivors of human trafficking to get compensation from those who trafficked them
- Proclaim February 22 of each year as Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Ontario.
In addition to these two new acts, the province has made two regulatory changes that would help survivors of human trafficking by allowing them to sue those who have been convicted of trafficking them for emotional distress and allowing community organizations that support survivors of trafficking to apply for grant funding under Ontario's Civil Remedies Act, 2001.
The Strategy to End Human Trafficking, launched in June 2016, aims to increase awareness and coordination, enhance justice-sector initiatives and improve survivors' access to services. It also reflects the diverse perspectives of survivors, front-line community agencies, public safety representatives, and Indigenous organizations.
Supporting survivors and protecting those at risk of trafficking 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.
- Ontario is investing up to $72 million in its Strategy to End Human Trafficking.
- Human trafficking is a criminal offence and involves recruiting, transporting, transferring, receiving, holding, concealing or harbouring a person, or exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of a person, for purpose of exploiting them or facilitating their exploitation.
- Ontario has become a major centre for human trafficking in Canada, with 65 per cent of national human trafficking cases reported to police originating in Ontario.
- Of Ontario’s reported cases of human trafficking, an estimated 70 per cent are for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and the majority of survivors are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
“Human trafficking exploits the most vulnerable people in our communities. It is a deplorable crime and we must do everything we can to protect and support survivors. This legislation helps survivors live without fear, and access the services they need to recover.”
“Ontario is working on a number of fronts within the justice system to tackle the growing and complex problem of human trafficking. Not only are we supporting survivors in the aftermath of this crime with specialized victim services, but we are working to prevent further exploitation of other victims through more effective prosecution of traffickers. This new legislation will build on our ongoing efforts to protect survivors and keep our communities safe.”
“Moving forward with Anti-Human Trafficking legislation is a critical step of our provincial strategy that aims to protect survivors of this horrific crime. This legislation will empower survivors with legal mechanisms should they wish to bring perpetrators to justice and provide community organizations with funding they need to better support survivors.”
Dr. Helena Jaczek