Human trafficking, or trafficking in persons, is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, often described as a modern day form of slavery. Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation, harbouring and/or exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of a person in order to exploit that person, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour. Victims, mostly women and children, are deprived of their normal lives and compelled to provide labour or sexual services, through a variety of coercive practices, all for the direct profit of their perpetrators. Exploitation often occurs through intimidation, force, sexual assault and threats of violence to the victims or their families.
Human trafficking differs from human smuggling, as the latter implies the consent of the person who usually pays large sums of money to be smuggled and is free upon arrival at destination.
Human Trafficking in Canada
Human trafficking is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The extent of human trafficking, both in Canada and internationally, is difficult to assess due to the hidden nature of the crime, the reluctance of victims and witnesses to come forward to law enforcement and the difficulty of identifying victims. We know that men, women and children fall victim to this crime, although women represent the majority of victims in Canada. Those who are likely to be at-risk include:
- persons who are socially or economically disadvantaged, such as some Aboriginal women, youth and children, migrants and new immigrants, teenaged runaways, children who are in protection, and
- girls and women, who may be lured to large urban centres or who move there voluntarily.
If you think someone is a victim of human trafficking, call 9-1-1 or your local police. If you wish to anonymously report a case of trafficking, please call Crime Stoppers National Tipline at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477).
Government Response to Human Trafficking
Canada was among the first countries to ratify the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. Our efforts are guided by the Protocol and, through a four-pillar approach, seek to:
- prevent human trafficking from occurring,
- protect victims of human trafficking,
- bring its perpetrators to justice, and
- build partnerships domestically and internationally.
The Government of Canada's National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, 2012-2016, consolidated the federal government's efforts to combat human trafficking and introduced new initiatives to prevent human trafficking, identify victims, protect the most vulnerable, and prosecute perpetrators. A Human Trafficking Taskforce, led by Public Safety Canada and comprised of key departments, was responsible for overseeing the implementation of the National Action Plan commitments, coordinating the federal anti-human-trafficking response and publicly reporting annually on progress.
The evaluation of the National Action Plan concluded that human trafficking continues to occur in Canada and that a coordinated national approach to tackling this crime is still required. The Human Trafficking Taskforce continues to be the dedicated focal point for federal anti-human-trafficking efforts.
Engagement on the Way Forward
In September 2018, Public Safety Canada, together with key federal partners under the Human Trafficking Taskforce, will be undertaking consultations to inform the development of a new national strategy to counter human trafficking. Regional sessions will be held in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal to promote open discussion between the Government of Canada, law enforcement, provinces and territories, Indigenous representatives, and private sector and civil society stakeholders. A discussion paper has been developed to elicit discussion and comment.
These sessions will help identify gaps and emerging issues and trends to be addressed through a new national strategy. They will culminate in a national summit to be held in Toronto. Stakeholders, including those unable to attend in-person sessions, will also be emailed a questionnaire seeking additional input.
Human Trafficking Legislation
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