Workshop on Human Trafficking Summary Report

Workshop on Human Trafficking Summary Report PDF Version (698 Kb)
Table of contents

March 26-27, 2015


Public Safety Canada (PS) would like to thank the individuals and organizations for their participation in the two-day Workshop on Human Trafficking and their dedication to the fight against this illegal activity, both in Canada and abroad. The collaboration, partnerships, and awareness resulting from the Workshop complement Canada’s commitment under the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, to continue moving forward in developing and sustaining innovative efforts to combat human trafficking. The information and recommendations flowing from the discussions will inform federal priorities as the Government of Canada (GC) continues to build on current efforts to take action against human trafficking.


On June 6, 2012, Public Safety Canada (PS) launched the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking (NAP), which committed approximately $25 million over four years towards federal anti-human trafficking initiatives.  The annual reports on progress of the NAP, which include the 2012-2013 Annual Report on ProgressFootnote1 released in December 2013, and the 2013-2014 Annual Report on ProgressFootnote2 released in May 2015, speak to the progress the Government of Canada has made under all four pillars of the approachFootnote3 : prevention of the crime; protecting its victims; prosecuting offenders and building partnerships.  In addition to outlining progress on commitments, the annual reports highlight the way forward, informed by annual stakeholder consultations.

The GC recognizes that the key to the long term success of the NAP is communication and engagement with key stakeholders and experts who play a unique and integral role in preventing and combatting this crime. Hence, as part of the NAP, PS is committed to engaging in various ways with stakeholders and experts from Canada, including international partners, to learn more about the human trafficking situation and to identify current opportunities for action and collaboration moving forward.

To this end, since the fall of 2012 PS has conducted a number of key stakeholder consultations. The 2012-2013 Human Trafficking Stakeholder Consultations National Summary ReportFootnote4 and the 2014 National Forum on Human Trafficking Summary ReportFootnote5 summarize the national and regional themes, key findings and recommendations resulting from these consultations.

Overview and Objective

On March 26-27, 2015, 12 stakeholders, mostly non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and service providers, which are engaged in the fight against human trafficking, met in Ottawa with members of the Human Trafficking Taskforce (HTT) and Federal Departments. The objective of the Workshop was to take stock of, prioritize and advance activities identified in the National Action Plan, while also identifying emerging issues and opportunities. The Workshop also aimed to support and enhance the connections between stakeholders and policy makers to ensure that the NAP is addressing the needs of both stakeholders and policy makers alike.

Building on previous consultations, this Workshop offered an opportunity for information sharing, identification and discussion of emerging issues and potential solutions and opportunities. Discussions included an examination of the recommendations of the “No More, Ending Sex-Trafficking In Canada” Report of the National Task Force on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada (specifically Chapter 8: Collective Action).

The 2015 Workshop on Human Trafficking Summary ReportFootnote6 summarizes the themes, key findings, and recommendations resulting from the March 2015 Workshop on Human Trafficking. This information, along with previous consultation findings, will be used to help inform future federal anti-human trafficking priorities and policies.


Public Safety Canada – National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking

Mr. Michael Holmes, Director of the Serious and Organized Crime Division, Public Safety Canada, presented an overview of Human Trafficking in Canada and the National Action Plan (NAP) to Combat Human Trafficking. Mr. Holmes also highlighted the progress outlined in the first annual report on progress on the NAP including next steps. 

In moving forward, for 2014-2015, the Government of Canada will:

National Task Force on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada

Mrs. Diane Redsky, Chair of the National Task Force on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada (Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Inc.), presented on the activities and accomplishments of the Task Force since 2011.  The Canadian Women’s Centre created this national task force, bringing together 24 experts from across Canada to lean forward on the issue of sex trafficking.  Its purpose was to engage in research to gather data on sex trafficking.  The Task Force travelled to 10 sites across Canada and met with 260 organizations and 160 survivors.  Of the 260 organizations, 45 came together in the national roundtable with service providers and survivors. This was followed by a series of research activities including:

The result of this research was the publication of a report containing 34 recommendations.

Key Findings and Proposed Recommendations

Key findings identified from the Workshop (which include current challenges/gaps and emerging themes) and some proposed recommendations are outlined below.  For ease of reference, the information has been grouped into the following themes: Service Sector; Research and Data Collection; Awareness and Training; and National Coordination and Collaboration. 

Service Sector

The importance of meeting Victims’ Needs

There is concern that some existing services offered in Canada may not be aligned/equipped to meet current victims’ needs.  These gaps include services relating to untreated mental health issues, the requirement for additional trauma services, a national detoxification and stabilization program for trafficked women and girls, and the lack of capacity and resources in shelters to support trafficked persons.

Recommendations: There is a need to build capacity and resources in the service sector to better address the needs of human trafficking victims. 

Formalized Supports in Continuum of Care

Numerous concerns have been raised regarding the lack of formalized supports in the continuum of care. Some of these issues relate to the lack of wrap around services, and the lack of identifiable focal point to help people move through the systems. Also, a trend has been identified whereby victims who have been treated and have moved on are returning for support at a later point. Survivors can be triggered later in life by different factors such as pregnancy, confusing boundaries in relationships, etc. The understanding of the concept of continuum of care needs to change.

Recommendations: A seamless service approach is recommended to support victims. For instance, a system in which an individual is served as she/he moves through the system, protocols (e.g. information sharing protocol) to ensure continuity.

Service Consistency/Accessibility within Jurisdictions

There are regional disparities across the country relating to the type and level of services and resources that are available for victims. For example, some agencies are unable to supply services in the fall because they are so focused on finding shelter options for the coming winter.

Recommendations: The development ofconsistent legislation and service provision strategies is of utmost important, to ensure victims receive consistent services and support throughout the country, regardless of where they are located. Furthermore, there is a need to develop a care map for victims that can be delivered in any Canadian jurisdiction.

Broader Definition of Human Trafficking

Consideration should be given to enhancing the definition of Human Trafficking to make it more inclusive in order to improve the effectiveness and applications of laws and services, and to prevent the ostracizing of certain victims/survivors (e.g. pronouns in LGBTQ community, language with sex workers).

Recommendations: It is important to look to broader definitions of Human Trafficking (e.g. Delphi Criteria/Technique) and not the criminal code for the purpose of service provision.

Safe Houses for Victims

There is a lack of safe houses in Canada.  Shelters can help, but not all are equipped to support victims with addiction issues or victims who fear for their safety.

Additional Recommendations

Continue to Create Survivor-led Initiatives

Survivor-led initiatives focus on key areas including: victim services, public awareness initiatives and are advocates in the efforts to combat human trafficking. The importance of aligning service delivery with success criteria was stressed. It is important to continue to create standards of service delivery, including:

Need to Increase Networking / Collaboration

Networking and information sharing opportunities could contribute to building the capacity. For example, supporting learning opportunities between provinces in an effort to create positive change/action; maintaining and incentivizing collaboration and working towards systems change; national protocol / promising practices on police/CAS collaboration, etc.

Another approach to ensure effective networking and collaboration is to improve representation of federal-provincial-territorial HT committees by including representation from four (4) key groups:

Research and Data Collection

Need for Data Collection / Improve Methodology

Large gaps have been identified in regards to data collection or lack thereof. Currently, data collection is reliant on non-government organizations (NGOs); however there is a lack of administrative data from NGOs and a lack of infrastructure to collect this data, as well as high staff turnover. The majority of the data available focuses on prosecution statistics.

Recommendations: There is a need to build upon government-led data and stats collection, to map organized crime methods and involvement in Human Trafficking, and RCMP Threat Assessments.

Information Sharing / Collaboration

There is a need for improved information sharing, including sharing knowledge on achieving systemic change.

Recommendations: Consideration should be given to:

Need for Further Research / Research Agenda

There is a lack of consensus between human trafficking stakeholders with regards to what the research priorities should be.  The other problematic aspect in regards to research relates to the lack of available funding to support these efforts, which impedes the quantity and quality of available human trafficking research.

Recommendations: Consideration should be given to creating a shared research framework. There is a demonstrable need for coordinated national research to better understand the many factors (i.e. risk factors) involved in human trafficking. A structured and sustained collaboration between scholars examining human trafficking and NGOs on the front line is required to better support the development and maintenance of a common research / data collection methodology. Consideration should also be given to determining the cost of HT and sexual exploitation and the return on investment and the cost of violence (HT for exploitation).

Awareness and Training

Lack of Awareness on Human Trafficking Issue in Canada

Human trafficking is still a relatively unknown issue in Canada. There is a general lack of awareness that sex trafficking exists in the nation. However, those who are aware of it consider it to be an imported issue. There is a need for more awareness regarding both the scope and scale of the issue.

Trafficking situations are complex and dynamic – in some cases, victims are subjected to both labour and sexual trafficking situations simultaneously.  Consideration should be given to addressing the current lack of understanding about the intricacies of labour exploitation, which can be equally as traumatic and often also includes sexual exploitation.

In some cases the subtleties are very particular. Sometimes the person doing the trafficking is in another country and controlling victims through coercion. For example, husbands who are coercing their families, or families coming under the guise of study.

Recommendations for Improvement

Develop National Public Awareness Campaigns

Consideration should be given to developing a national public awareness campaign to promote awareness on HT and to build support for HT programs and services. It was also recommended that there should be an increase in the number of Canada-wide public awareness campaigns that have a regional lens.

Enhance Human Trafficking Training Programs

There is a need to elaborate and improve training programs. To exemplify this, it was suggested that the following courses be offered:  human trafficking courses for Crown Attorneys & Judges; increased training for staff working in all sectors (NGO, government, civil society, priority sectors), who are working on HT files at all levels; continue to develop training programs that target key agents/actors in the system and; develop and deliver programs to better educate youth.

There is a need for training available to the judicial system, which has the power to relay messages through their decisions, for example, a judge recently suggested the Crown Attorneys should not use a particular hotel to house witnesses as it has been involved in human trafficking. The HT ‘training’ for judges and Crown Attorneys should be framed within a broader context of community feedback to these crucial decision makers – a regular venue for them to hear from their public.

There should also be a focus on raising awareness and providing training for the medical professional community.

Training and awareness to front line law enforcement (LE) should be continued. The importance of continuing to fund education and training efforts for the public, LE and government partners was raised. A lot of work remains to be done regarding training and awareness with employers from the service industry. The importance of continuing to develop training programs, free, comprehensive, and updated HT training – i.e. OCTIP training from BC was also highlighted.

Need to Support Youth Peer Programming

The importance of supporting youth peer programming was raised such as the Children of the street in BC program, a youth speaking to youth model for children in Grades 5-12. Suggested areas that should be focused on include: prevention strategies aimed specifically at at-risk youth; support for peer-to-peer information sharing (e.g. MADD-type organizations in schools re: HT); and the creation of a national youth support network. Consideration should also be given to developing a youth education plan for public schools. The importance of using innovative tools such as a new computer game called “Get Eddy”, designed for teachers and students to play together, was raised. Increasing the number of creative programs for Indigenous youth was also stressed. Education should focus on developing confident girls/young women, respectful boys/young me is also important, which includes consent and teaching youth what a healthy sexuality means and what healthy relationships are. The recommendation was made to review the Fourth R Program: Strategies for Healthy Youth Relationships at Western University.

Examine options to make it mandatory for youth (12-18yrs) to engage in volunteering work (provincial legislation through education for school credit) and encourage them to do this volunteer work with human trafficking related organizations because exposure equates to increased awareness. Continue to analyze youth exposure to, and attitudes toward pornography on-line and its link to sexual exploitation patterns.

National Coordination and Collaboration

Need for a Consistent National Response

Connections between federal-provincial-territorial government bodies are either lacking or non-existent (e.g. temporary foreign worker (TFW) advisory office does not exist in Ontario).

Recommendations: Canada-wide action is required, for example, a national protocol / promising practices on police/Children’s Aid Society (CAS) collaboration. In addition, a long term policy agenda and more openness to different policy ideas/paradigms are required.

Law Reform and Enforcement

Bill C-36 is criminalizing the purchase of sex, but there is uneven application by policing agencies across Canada. Overall, stakeholders are seeing increased police proactivity and a more systematic application of the law. There are an increased number of convictions and more cases being taken to court; and stronger sentences are being given.

Recommendations: Dedicated law enforcement at the municipal level was recommended. They could focus on: ensuring advocating funding; engaging the chiefs of police and mayors; and education through the Canadian Association of Police Boards.

Additionally, changes to legislation are very important; laws that stop trafficking in its tracks are needed. For example, mandating education and key municipal bylaws (e.g. Saskatoon has reversed the decision to allow stripping in bars).

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

The TRP process needs improvement. The issue of access was raised; there is difficulty in accessing TRPs either because a trafficker has forced criminal conditions on a victim, or there is a lack of awareness at Citizen and Immigration Canada (CIC) about the issue and how TRPs can be awarded and by whom.

Recommendations: Training of CIC and CBSA personnel on TRPs and the relationship with NGOs in each province was recommended to facilitate the issuance process. The following suggestions were also made: to follow the Palermo protocol for criteria; entrench TRP in law, TRPs should include family members, and a more direct pathway to permanent residence.

Additional Recommendations

Civil Forfeiture Compensation

Consideration should be given to compensation for victims (not as in Provincial Compensation, but victims receiving money that has been taken from them through victimization). If assets are seized by the state, some could be directed to compensate victims. However, it was recognized that there could be potential issues in regards to enforcement. There is currently no ability to use seized property, but there is precedent in the Criminal Code.

Child Welfare System

Survivors have indicated that the systems they interacted with the most while being trafficked as a child were: 1) School, 2) Child Welfare and 3) Community organizations. Children in the child welfare system are particularly vulnerable. Most reports are coming from police or group homes (girls are recruited by other girls). For example, a taxi shows up at the group homes and takes the girls to conduct the trick and returns them. Stakeholders are calling for a trafficking-proof child welfare system. Inconsistent provincial child protection policies need to be addressed.

Leveraging Current Programming

An inventory of grants and contributions available to support efforts to eliminate human trafficking is essential in order to tap into existing resources to raise awareness and address HT, as well as coordinate grants and contributions available to support eliminating HT.

Strengthen Partnerships with Non-government Organizations (NGOs)

The Government of Canada (GC) can support the development of an NGO partnership, the development of a network of NGOs working in partnership to promote safety nationally. Such a network would help eliminate some of the competition between NGOs and would help mobilize organizations and would encourage them to work together to combat human trafficking. Sustained funding to support services is also required. Stakeholders called for more provincial action and commitment, particularly in terms of service provision / improvement. However, before embarking on building public awareness about the issue, it is important to determine service delivery needs in advance.

Get the Private Sector Involved

Currently, there is no framework for moving forward in the private sector. Recommendations include selecting a key company (with a good reputation) as a champion and examining possibilities for a National Association which would consist of partners from the private sector working together to end human trafficking.

Enhance Government of Canada’s Role for Collaboration Efforts

The Government of Canada (GC) can continue collaborating and having open dialogue with stakeholders by, for example, continuing to: facilitate meetings and workshops that bring actors together and having stock-taking sessions; fund learning exchanges between federal, provincial and municipal governments with NGOs; bring provincial partners to the table for Federal Human Trafficking Taskforce meetings; share knowledge / expertise on systemic changes. The Government can also work to increase collaboration amongst partners working on similar issues with the goal of increasing the effectiveness of existing programs. GC can also continue to raise awareness in regards to cross jurisdictional issues and gaps with other levels of government. It can promote, initiate and support Canada-wide action.

Collective Action

The Government of Canada can consider involving other key sectors: philanthropists and private industries to help provide absent services. By circulating reports such as the “No More, Ending Sex-Trafficking In Canada“ (and its recommendations), and the National Task Force on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada report, the government could help raise awareness and build capacity within and between federal departments.

Mrs. Kim Pate, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS), presented the findings and recommendations of Chapter 8: Collective Action in the recently published No More, Ending Sex-Trafficking in Canada: Report of the National Task Force on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada

The National Task Force was inspired by the collective impact approach to social change, which is based on the observation that complex problems cannot be solved by a single organization or intervention.  At the national level, Public Safety Canada has helped coordinate work between federal departments. However, there is currently no vehicle for coordinating civil society or the private sector, and most provinces and regions don’t currently have the infrastructure in place to marshal resources or coordinate local activities.

To amplify the speed of work at the National Level, the task force has recommended that four new roundtables be created (a Data and Research Roundtable, a Technology Roundtable, a Public Awareness Roundtable and a National Coordinating Roundtable) and that an  Experiential Women’s Summit be hosted to support the creation of a strong and cohesive experiential voice in Canada.

The report recommends establishing a Council of Funders to bring together leaders  from the  different levels of government, Indigenous governments, private sector corporations, community-based agencies, foundations and faith-based organizations to: “identify funders and high net worth individuals for the shared goal of eradicating sex trafficking and sexual exploitation”, to ensure investments are maximized, and to provide a cohesive direction. Principles of new investments to support and amplify the impacts of existing funding include: coordinating and pooling funding along a continuum, funding short, medium and multi-year initiatives, involve survivors in meaningful ways, and long-term outcomes measured and enhanced by research.

As well, recommendations in the report include supporting the establishment and maintenance of a national coordination body to carry forward and coordinate NGO work (including taking forward Task Force recommendations) and calls for consideration of how to involve the private sector, philanthropists and faith-based groups.

Next Steps

In concluding the workshop, it was evident that there is a strong appetite moving forward, and that there is a need for identifying each department and organisation’s next steps as the power of systematic approaches becomes more visible and relationships continue to strengthen.  There is the need for collective action among all key players.  Public Safety Canada will provide strategic action and leadership whenever possible, to support the needed collective action from the system. 

Next steps identified during the workshop for further discussion and potential action include:


  1. 1

    Public Safety Human Trafficking Webpage:

  2. 2

    Public Safety Human Trafficking Webpage:

  3. 3

    Public Safety Human Trafficking Webpage:

  4. 4

    2012-2013 Human Trafficking Stakeholder Consultations National Summary Report:

  5. 5

    Public Safety Human Trafficking Webpage:

  6. 6

    The views expressed herein are those raised by the participants and do not necessarily reflect those of Public Safety Canada and/or the participating organizations.

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