Ontario's Actions to Combat Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a deplorable crime that robs the safety, livelihood and dignity of those who are being exploited and abused. The government is committed to strengthening access to supports and services needed to escape trafficking.
Ontario supports a number of programs and services across a range of ministries to combat sex trafficking and support survivors.
Specialized Services for Human Trafficking Survivors
- The Provincial Anti-Human Trafficking Coordination Office has launched working groups across government to support a coordinated approach with the systems that can prevent human trafficking and ensure that appropriate help is available for survivors. The Office works closely with a network of regional teams across the province that focus on human trafficking. This involves supporting relationship-building among police services, Children’s Aid Societies and other community organizations, as well as efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking.
- Ontario funds a free online training program with content geared to specific sectors, available at www.HelpingTraffickedPersons.org.
- The Minister of Children, Community and Social Services attended the meeting of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women in Whitehorse, Yukon in October 2018, where she advocated for a human trafficking task team. Resulting from the meeting, the Minister and her federal counterpart are co-chairing a task team to foster collaboration with other provincial, territorial and federal governments to take action on human trafficking.
Children and Youth Services
- Specialized youth-in-transition workers help prevent the trafficking of youth leaving care who may be targeted by human traffickers.
Transitional Housing and Rent Assistance
- The Governments of Canada and Ontario have committed $7 million to help survivors of human trafficking in Ontario with transitional housing and rent assistance.
Legal and Justice Sector Supports
- The Ministry of the Attorney General’s Victim/Witness Assistance Program has specialized staff in locations with a high volume of human trafficking cases in Brampton, Newmarket, and Toronto.
- The Ministry of the Attorney General has enhanced the Victim Crisis Assistance Ontario program so that community-based service delivery partners can provide relevant and more efficient support to survivors of human trafficking.
- A specialized team of Crown prosecutors ensures Ontario’s prosecution service has the expertise, skill, and capacity to prosecute human trafficking cases.
- Through the Anti-Human Trafficking Act, survivors are afforded legal punitive actions against their perpetrators. A new pilot program was launched to assist survivors of human trafficking and those at risk of being trafficked to help apply for restraining orders under the Act, by providing free legal supports.
- Prosecutors consider how a survivor is best able to communicate their evidence. For example, this may mean allowing a survivor to testify from outside of the courtroom via closed-circuit television.
- The Ministry of the Solicitor General continues to support police so that they have the tools they need to identify and arrest human traffickers. This includes a part of the Basic Constable Training program in which all recruits are trained to identify that someone may be a victim or perpetrator of human trafficking.
- A provincial team has been established to coordinate human trafficking efforts and information sharing between the Ontario Provincial Police, municipal and First Nation police services.
- Online training and other resources to educate mental health and addiction workers about human trafficking have been developed by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health - Provincial System Support Program (CAMH PSSP).
Indigenous-Specific Supports and Services
Indigenous women and girls are over-represented among the survivors of sex trafficking. To help address the need for Indigenous-led approaches and deep and ongoing engagement with Indigenous partners, Ontario supports a number of Indigenous-specific initiatives.
- The Ontario Native Women’s Association leads Ontario's Indigenous Anti-Human Trafficking Liaisons program in areas known for trafficking, as well as remote areas identified through engagements with Indigenous partners. These liaisons work with local organizations to ensure effective and culturally appropriate services are offered to Indigenous people with lived experience of human trafficking.
- There is a dedicated provincial funding stream for programs delivered by and for Indigenous people called the Indigenous-led Initiatives Fund. Under this program, Indigenous partners are receiving funding to provide Indigenous survivors with access to services, help prevent at-risk people from being trafficked, meaningfully engage people with lived experience and encourage innovation and community partnerships. The programs supported by this funding include long-term housing, counselling, cultural programming, addictions treatment, leadership development and other services.
- In 2017-18, the Ontario Government funded the Ontario Native Women’s Association’s (ONWA) Journey to Safe SPACES: Indigenous Anti- Human Trafficking Engagement Report. These were the first Indigenous-led engagements with human trafficking survivors and service providers to date and the largest engagements with human trafficking survivors ever conducted in Ontario. The participants included over 250 self-identified Indigenous human trafficking survivors. ONWA released the report on May 29, 2019.
Voice Found provides survivor-led programming for survivors of child sexual abuse, commercial sexual exploitation, and sex trafficking, including their Healthcare, Education, Advocacy, Linkage, Trauma-Informed, Healing (H.E.A.L.T.H.) clinic that provides specialized health care for individuals at risk of/being trafficked or who have been trafficked. Voice Found is one of the front-line service agencies funded by the Government of Ontario.