CI NEWS SERVICE
This week the Ontario government announced that it is taking concrete steps to combat and prevent human trafficking.
According to a news release, the province is implementing a five-year strategy which is the largest total investment in dedicated anti-human trafficking supports and services in the country.
A troubling 66 per cent of all cases of human trafficking in Canada occur in Ontario. Additionally, the average age people are recruited into the dark world of sex trafficking is 13, and over 70 per cent of victims identified by police are under the age of 25.
Young women and girls are particularly at risk. Especially those from Indigenous communities, and children and youth in care. However, boys, men, and those that a part of the LGBTQ+ community are also targeted.
As a result of how commonly Indigenous women and girls are targeted by sex traffickers, Indigenous-specific initiatives are a large part of the new strategy.
The strategy, which will benefit from an investment of $307 million, will focus on four key areas:
Raising awareness of the issue by launching a new, province-wide marketing campaign to educate children, youth, parents, and the broader public about what human trafficking is, how to recognize the signs, and where to get help.
Holding offenders accountable by giving law enforcement more specialized Crown prosecution support for human trafficking cases, strengthening intelligence gathering in the correctional system, and investing in police services to help coordinate anti-human trafficking investigations and expand the Ontario Provincial Police Child Sexual Exploitation Unit.
Protecting victims and intervening early by investing in specialized intervention teams involving police and child protection services, incorporating human trafficking awareness into the education curriculum, and establishing dedicated, licensed residences to support victims, including those under the age of 16.
Supporting survivors by investing new funding in wrap-around, community-based supports and Indigenous-led initiatives to make more services available for survivors and by enhancing victim services to assist survivors throughout the court process.
“Survivors of human trafficking require specific, ongoing supports to help them exit trafficking, heal from their trauma and rebuild their lives,” Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, said in a news release.
At the end of the day the root cause of sex trafficking needs to be addressed— the role of the parents and guardians in managing their troubled teens. Many victims come from troubled and dysfunctional families. In their quest to escape a bad situation at home, they often gravitate toward people and situations that put them at risk and end up being victims of sex-trafficking.