Ontario Offering Free Legal Support for Survivors of Human Trafficking
Province Launching Pilot Program to Help Survivors Escape Exploitation and Violence
Ontario has launched a new program that will assist survivors of human trafficking and those at risk of being trafficked by providing free legal supports, the first of its kind in Canada.
Effective May 1, a team of specialized lawyers are now available to help survivors of human trafficking and those at risk get a restraining order by providing legal support, including:
- Free, confidential legal advice
- Help completing a restraining order application
- Representation at application hearings in any Ontario Court of Justice
Parents and guardians of a child survivor or a child at risk of being trafficked are now also eligible for free legal support.
The program is available province wide, by phone or in person. To access services, eligible individuals can call Ontario's dedicated confidential Human Trafficking Helpline at 1-833-999-9211.
In addition, a new type of restraining order is now in effect. The human trafficking-specific restraining order, created under the Anti-Human Trafficking Act, helps protect survivors and the safety of those around them and does not require notifying the trafficker in advance.
Providing support for survivors and those at risk of human trafficking is part of the government's plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and free preschool child care from 2 ½ to kindergarten.
- Restraining orders are an important legal tool in protecting survivors and individuals at risk of being trafficked from the threat of exploitation and violence.
- Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking includes an investment of up to $72 million to increase awareness and coordination, enhance justice-sector initiatives and improve survivors' access to services.
“Human trafficking has a devastating impact on survivors and their families. We are committed to ensuring people in Ontario have the support and legal options they need to protect themselves as they rebuild their lives. Free legal representation is an important step in this journey for survivors to have peace of mind.”
“We have heard from our partners on the front-lines that traffickers often pursue survivors when they try to leave and seek safety. This new program will make an important difference in the lives of those being targeted and their families, by providing meaningful legal recourse to use against those who seek to exploit them.”
“It is critical that survivors of human trafficking have access to the services and support that they need. This program ensures that individuals in every community can access free and confidential legal advice, no matter where they are in the province.”
“Navigating the complexities of the legal system can be quite challenging particularly for survivors experiencing significant trauma and fear. Specialized legal representation for human trafficking survivors will help reduce systemic barriers by improving access to critical services that were not previously available.”