Strengthening Ontario's Human Trafficking Laws
Ontario is a major centre for human trafficking in Canada, accounting for approximately 65 per cent of police-reported cases nationally. In June 2016, the province launched Ontario's Strategy to End Human Trafficking with an investment of up to $72 million. The strategy is aimed at increasing awareness and coordination, enhancing justice-sector initiatives and improving access to services for human trafficking survivors.
Today, Ontario introduced the Anti-Human Trafficking Act, 2017 aimed at preventing human trafficking, helping survivors rebuild their lives and raising awareness. If passed, 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.
Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking Act, 2017
If passed, the Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking Act, 2017 would:
- Establish a process where survivors and those at risk of being trafficked can apply for human trafficking-specific restraining orders to protect themselves from traffickers
- Enable survivors to sue their traffickers in civil court to obtain compensation.
Human Trafficking Awareness Day Act, 2017
If passed, the Human Trafficking Awareness Day Act, 2017 would proclaim February 22 of each year as Human Trafficking Awareness Day. This day will be an opportunity to not only condemn, but to shine light on the severity and prevalence of human trafficking, and help everyone to identify and report potential trafficking incidents when they see them.
This legislation builds on existing legislative changes underway including those in the proposed Child, Youth and Family Services Act that, if passed, will increase the protection age from 16 to 18, enhancing protection services for more vulnerable youth.
The province has also strengthened existing regulations by:
- Expanding the list of recipients that may be eligible to receive grants under the Civil Remedies Act, 2001 to include community organizations
- Expanding the list of Criminal Code offences under the Victims' Bill of Rights, 1995 regulation to include human trafficking offences. This will allow human trafficking survivors to sue for emotional distress.