National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking – Annual Report 2019-2020

Message from the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

The Honourable Bill Blair

As the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and on behalf of all federal partners, I am pleased to present the first annual report on Canada’s National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking. This report outlines the progress and achievements made since the launch of the whole-of-government Strategy on September 4, 2019.

Human trafficking is a heinous crime and human rights offence. It impacts communities large and small across Canada and disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations, including women and girls, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, new immigrants and migrants, LGBTQ2+ persons and at-risk youth. Human trafficking leaves a devastating impact on the individual, their family, communities and society as a whole.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented and additional challenges for many of our most vulnerable populations and made it even more challenging to escape situations of human trafficking. Public Safety Canada will continue to work with all partners to adapt to the evolving pandemic and provide at-risk populations and victims and survivors of human trafficking with the critical resources and supports they need.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementary protocols, including the Trafficking in Persons Protocol. We also mark the 15th anniversary of the enactment of the first trafficking in persons offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. This significant milestone is an opportune moment to reflect on the Government of Canada’s ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking, and what more can be done to protect vulnerable and marginalized members of society from this devastating crime.

The Government of Canada is taking a strong stance domestically and internationally against human rights abuse and sexual- and gender-based violence, of which human trafficking is one of the most appalling examples.

That is why we are taking a whole-of-government approach to this crime, bringing together federal initiatives under one strategic framework that aligns with the internationally recognized pillars of prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships. The National Strategy also introduced a new pillar of “empowerment”, which will ensure trauma-informed, gender-responsive and culturally relevant supports are provided to victims and survivors. This new foundational pillar recognizes that it is essential to incorporate the voices of survivors in government’s actions.

Under the National Strategy, the Government of Canada has committed $57.22 million over five years and $10.28 million ongoing to put in place new and enhanced federal measures. I am encouraged by the progress that has been made in implementing the National Strategy in its first year. This includes examining the federal procurement supply chain and providing funding opportunities for victim-centred community organizations working to combat human trafficking and support victims and survivors.

At the international level, we recognize the importance of a global response to this crime. Canada continues to work with its international partners to prevent and respond to international criminal activity, including human trafficking. This report highlights domestic and international achievements and partnerships, including Canada’s contribution to the fight against human trafficking in Central and South America.

The Government of Canada is committed to evidence-based decision-making and Canada’s response to human trafficking needs to be informed by experienced advocates. It is for this reason that I have reappointed Shirley Cuillierrier as the Interim Special Advisor to Combat Human Trafficking.

First appointed in September 2019, Ms. Cuillierrier has engaged with provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners, and supported the Government of Canada to develop a Survivor-led Advisory Committee, which is a forum for those affected by human trafficking to have their distinct and diverse voices heard. Through these outreach activities, as well as her own expertise, Ms. Cuillierrier has provided critical advice to me and Public Safety Canada to strengthen the Government of Canada’s efforts to combat human trafficking.

In her capacity as Interim Special Advisor, Ms. Cuillierrier will continue to advise on the development and establishment of specific initiatives under the National Strategy, engage with key stakeholders and partners to identify opportunities for collaboration, and inform the Government of Canada’s response to human trafficking. I look forward to continuing to work with Ms. Cuillierrier on fighting human trafficking in Canada and abroad.

We have taken important steps in our collective fight against human trafficking, but we recognize that there remains work to be done. I look forward to continuing this important work with federal, provincial and territorial colleagues, civil society and the private sector. Together, we can continue to build a safer and more resilient Canada, where all people are protected from human trafficking and its harms.

The Honourable Bill Blair, P.C., C.O.M., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Executive Summary: Annual Report on Progress

This marks the first Annual Report on the progress of Canada’s National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking (National Strategy), which was launched on September 4, 2019. This report covers anti-human trafficking efforts from April 1, 2019 - March 31, 2020. The horizontal five-year National Strategy consolidates the efforts of federal departments and agencies that respond to human trafficking both domestically and internationally. Led by the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the National Strategy builds on previous anti-human trafficking efforts, supports the broader Government of Canada commitment to prevent and address gender-based violence, and aligns with Canada’s international commitments.

Canada has a long-standing history of taking action against human trafficking and its associated harms. In 2002, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its supplementary Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Trafficking in Persons Protocol), which articulates the most widely accepted international framework to address human trafficking. The stated purposes of the Trafficking in Persons Protocol include preventing and combatting trafficking in persons, and protecting and assisting victims, with full respect for their human rights and cooperation among States Parties. These purposes, and the Protocol itself, are broadly understood as advancing a comprehensive and multi-sectoral four-pillar model (4-Ps): prevention of the crime; protection of victims; prosecution of offenders; and working in partnerships.

Together with provinces and territories, Indigenous partners, non-governmental organizations, law enforcement, academia, and the private sector, the Government of Canada is taking a comprehensive approach to counter this horrific crime. Canada adheres to the 4-Ps approach and adds a new pillar of “empowerment” to emphasize the important role that victims, survivors, and at-risk populations can play in combatting human trafficking. Under this framework, the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking is supported by over $75 million in new funding between 2019-20 and 2023-24 (see chart below). This does not include existing funding within departments that supports ongoing anti-human trafficking activities as part of broader departmental mandates.

The following departments and agencies support anti-human trafficking activities that contribute to Canada’s overall effort to combat this crime:

Although progress continues to be made, the Government of Canada acknowledges that more needs to be done to ensure that those most vulnerable to this crime are protected and perpetrators are prosecuted.

Figure 1. Dedicated Government of Canada Funding for Human Trafficking ($M)*

Figure 1. Dedicated Government of Canada Funding for Human Trafficking ($M)*
Image Description

The figure shows a bar chart illustrating the amount of Government of Canada dedicated funding for Human Trafficking. The first bar shows dedicated funding for Public Safety Canada. The second bar shows dedicated funding for the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline, provided by Public Safety Canada. The third bar shows dedicated funding for Women and Gender Equality of Canada. The fourth bar shows dedicated funding for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The fifth bar shows dedicated funding for Canada Border Services Agency. The sixth bar shows dedicated funding for Public Services and Procurement Canada. The seventh bar shows funding for Justice Canada. The eighth bar shows funding for Financial Transaction and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.

*Dedicated Government of Canada funding from 2019-20 to 2023-24 to combat human trafficking



What is Human Trafficking

Trafficking in persons, also referred to as human trafficking, involves recruiting, transporting, transferring, receiving, holding, concealing, harbouring another person, or exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of that person, for the purpose of exploitation, generally for sexual exploitation or forced labourFootnote1. Human trafficking is a complex crime. It is facilitated by many factors, including the vulnerability of particular populations to exploitation, and the demand for low-cost goods and services. While no individual is immune from falling victim to human trafficking, people at the greatest risk of being trafficked are generally those who are economically and socially vulnerable and marginalized. Generally, this includes at-risk populations such as Indigenous women and girls, migrants and new immigrants, LGBTQ2+ persons, persons with disabilities, youth residing in care (i.e. group homes), children in the child welfare system, and others who are socially or economically disadvantaged.

Human Trafficking in Canada

Canada is a source, destination and transit country for victims of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour. Investigations of human trafficking in Canada suggest that, while labour exploitation does occur in Canada, human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation is more frequently detected, particularly in urban centres.

The National Strategy relies on data collected by Statistics Canada’s Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics (CCJCSS), which pulls data from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and the Integrated Criminal Court Survey. This approach permits an analysis of trends in human trafficking in Canada, as reported by criminal courts and Canadian police services across the country. Below are charts from Statistics Canada’s Juristat report, which depict the number of police-reported incidents of human trafficking from 2009 to 2018, as well as a breakdown of victims and accused traffickers by age group. It is important to note that the available data only provides a partial view of the scope of human trafficking in Canada. Many victims fear coming forward, resulting in a crime that is underreported to police and largely hidden from mainstream view.

Figure 2: Annual counts and rates of police reported human trafficking incidents in Canada, by type of violation, 2009 to 2019

Figure 2: Annual counts and rates of police reported human trafficking incidents in Canada, by type of violation, 2009 to 2019

Image Description

This figure shows a line graph illustrating the annual counts and rates of police reported human trafficking incidents in Canada, by type of violation, from 2009 to 2019. The top line shows incidents involving Criminal Code violations. The bottom line shows incidents involving violations against the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Note: This analysis is based on aggregate data, and counts are based on the most serious violation in a criminal incident. Rates are calculated on the basis of 100,000 population. Populations are based upon July 1st estimates from Statistics Canada, Centre for Demography. The Uniform Crime Reporting Survey was amended partway through 2011 to allow police services to report the specific offence of human trafficking under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Once the specific violation code was introduced, a small number of incidents which took place prior to this date were reported.

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics. Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Figure 3: Victims and accused persons in police-reported human trafficking incidents, by age group, Canada, 2019

Figure 3: Victims and accused persons in police-reported human trafficking incidents, by age group, Canada, 2019

Image Description

This figure shows two bar graphs illustrating victims and accused persons in police-reported human trafficking incidents, by age group, in Canada, for the year 2019. The first bar graph shows the percentage of victims of human trafficking by age range. The first bar in this graph shows that 22% of victims were less than 18 years old. The second bar shows that 43% of victims were between the ages of 18 and 24. The third bar shows that 24% of victims were between the ages of 25 to 34. The fourth bar shows that 7% of victims were between the ages of 35 to 44. The fifth bar shows that 4% of victims were 45 years of age or older. The second bar graph shows the percentage of accused persons by age range. The first bar in this graph shows that 3% of accused persons were less than 18 years old. The second bar shows that 38% of accused persons were between the ages of 18 to 34. The third bar shows that 39% of accused persons were between the ages of 25 to 34. The fourth bar shows that 11% of accused persons were between the ages of 35 to 44. The fifth bar shows that 9% of accused persons were 45 years of age or older.

Accused Persons

Accused Persons

Image Description

This image shows the poster for the “I’m Not For Sale” campaign in Canada. The image shows a women sitting on a chair and has the writing “I’m not for sale”. As well as the words: Promises, money, seduction, manipulation, intimidation, threats, exploitation, pimps. The image also contains the phrase “forced prostitution = human trafficking = crime”.

1. Analysis of victim information is based on Criminal Code human trafficking incidents only, where human trafficking was the only or the most serious violation in the incident.
2. For accused persons, this age group includes persons between the ages of 12 to 17 only. Children under 12 years of age cannot be prosecuted for criminal activities.
Note: Police services can report up to four violations for each incident. Calculations for accused persons are based on incidents where human trafficking was any violation in the incident. Victims and accused persons aged 90 years and older are excluded from analyses due to possible instances of miscoding of unknown age within this age category. Excludes persons where the gender or the age was unknown. Given that small counts of victims and accused persons identified as “gender diverse” may exist, the aggregate Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR) data available to the public has been recoded to assign these counts to either “male” or “female”, in order to ensure the protection of confidentiality and privacy. Victims and accused persons identified as gender diverse have been assigned to either male or female based on the regional distribution of victims’ or accused persons’ gender.

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics. Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Did You Know?

On June 21, 2019, the Criminal Code was further amended to make it easier to prove human trafficking offences in court and to seize human trafficking-related proceeds of crime.

Canadian Legal Framework

The primary international instrument to combat trafficking in persons is the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Canada ratified the Convention and the Protocol in 2002.

Canada has comprehensive criminal laws to combat human trafficking, which prohibit trafficking in persons as well as other exploitative conduct related to human trafficking. The Criminal Code contains several human trafficking-specific offences, including trafficking in adults, trafficking in children, materially benefitting from human trafficking and removing or destroying documents for the purpose of facilitating this crime. The two main offences (sections 279.01 and 279.011) are punishable by maximum penalties of up to life imprisonment if they also involve kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault or caused the death of a victim.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act also targets cross-border trafficking. Section 118 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act prohibits knowingly organizing the coming into Canada of one or more persons by means of abduction, fraud, deception, or use or threat of force or coercion. The offence is punishable by a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1 million.

In addition to the federal framework around human trafficking, some provinces and territories have put in place provincial legislation with respect to human trafficking. For example, Manitoba, Ontario and Alberta have all passed legislation to enable victims to secure protection orders and to seek compensation from their traffickers. This includes Manitoba’s Child Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking Act, which came into force in 2012; Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Act, which came into force in 2017; and Alberta’s Protecting Survivors of Human Trafficking Act, which came into force in 2020. 

Canada’s Goals and Priorities

Through the National Strategy, Canada has committed to a trauma-informed, culturally-relevant, gender-responsive and victim-centred response to human trafficking. This includes supporting programs and developing resources and tools that meet the needs of victims and survivors, and increasing awareness among all Canadians, permanent residents and foreign nationals.

Overall, the National Strategy sets out to achieve measureable progress against the following outcomes:

A range of federal measures and initiatives across many federal departments and agencies is helping to achieve the outcomes of the National Strategy.

Making Progress

During fiscal year 2019-20, departments and agencies implemented a number of anti-human trafficking initiatives, all while working together to foster greater collaboration and stronger partnerships. This work took place under the National Strategy’s five strategic pillars: empowerment, prevention, protection, prosecutions and partnerships.


The populations at greatest risk of human trafficking are those exposed to a number of intersecting risk factors in their lives and those who are among marginalized populations. Victims often suffer substantial ongoing trauma. The National Strategy introduced a new pillar of “empowerment” to ensure that there is a greater focus on enhancing supports and services to victims and survivors affected by this crime. Initiatives under this pillar focus on providing support services, including tools and resources, to help victims and survivors of human trafficking regain control and independence in their lives.

In 2019-20, the Government of Canada developed tailored calls for proposals under Public Safety’s Contribution Program to Combat Serious and Organized Crime (CPCSOC) and Women and Gender Equality Canada’s Human Trafficking Initiative. This funding is intended to support organizations that provide critical supports for human trafficking victims and survivors.

Under the empowerment pillar, the Government of Canada is also committed to addressing human trafficking in federal procurement supply chains. In 2019-20, a dedicated ethical procurement team was created within Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to meet this objective. An examination of PSPC’s Code of Conduct for Procurement (the Code) is underway with the goal of outlining expectations for vendors to comply with international labour and human rights, which are key to breaking the cycle of exploitation in which human trafficking occurs. Internal consultations were conducted to inform changes to the Code. PSPC also conducted consultations with industry and interested suppliers to seek information about available expertise to conduct a risk analysis of human trafficking, forced labour, and child labour in PSPC procurement supply chains. The risk analysis will allow PSPC to determine where supply chains may be vulnerable to risks of forced labour and which goods are at a higher risk. PSPC expects to be in a position to issue a request for proposal in fall 2020.

Did You Know?

As part of announced funding until 2029 for the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada, the Government of Canada committed to an Action Plan aimed at preventing and combatting sexual exploitation and human trafficking in the context of this international event. The Action Plan brings federal, provincial, municipal, and not-for-profit organizations together to enhance law enforcement collaboration, public awareness, and outreach activities. For more information please see the following news release:

In 2019-20, $25K was provided to La CLES, a local Montreal organization, for a public awareness campaign that offers support, guidance, and referrals for potential victims.


It is essential that a comprehensive response to all forms of human trafficking include prevention. The objective of the prevention pillar is to increase awareness of this crime and build knowledge and capacity to prevent and address human trafficking in Canada and abroad. The Government of Canada continues to work with partners and stakeholders to inform Canadians and foreign nationals of the signs and indicators of human trafficking and how to report it.

Increasing Awareness of Human Trafficking

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP) National Human Trafficking Section, formerly known as the Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre, continues to promote its “I’m Not For Sale” campaign in Canada. As part of this human trafficking awareness campaign, three toolkits are available: one for youth, one for law enforcement, and one directed to the general public. Materials include a video and a public service announcement educating law enforcement, service providers and the public on human trafficking.

Love Bomb Project

In 2019-20, the RCMP also supported the production of the Love Bomb Project, which is a unique and innovative musical play that is used as a crime prevention/awareness tool to break social and cultural barriers, share information, and assist in combatting sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Shameless Hussy Productions and the RCMP have contributed to this project since 2017, which has produced over 84 shows across British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

In addition, the Government of Canada has implemented a series of measures to prevent and detect cases of human trafficking for domestic servitude in diplomatic households, and more broadly to respond to situations of human trafficking and other forms of exploitation of accredited domestic workers. These measures include a robust outreach program that targets both employees and employers – current and prospective – and includes unannounced compliance reviews. In addition, Global Affairs Canada’s (GAC) Office of Protocol conducts systematic outreach to domestic workers on various topics, including human trafficking, before they arrive in Canada and throughout their stay.

The Department of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) also has an important role in increasing awareness of human trafficking by providing key information on their website to inform temporary foreign workers (TFWs) on their rights and ways to report abuse or misuse of the TFW Program. This includes how to self-assess whether a TFW is a victim of human trafficking and what to do in the event that the TFW is being trafficked.

Improving Knowledge on Human Trafficking

In addition to ensuring Canadians, permanent residents, and foreign nationals are aware of human trafficking, the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of increasing knowledge and supporting targeted research on human trafficking. Such efforts will help to close data gaps and inform policy and program initiatives over the five-year National Strategy and beyond.

For example, Public Safety Canada has collaborated with Statistics Canada to publish the third edition of the Trafficking in Persons in Canada, 2018 Special Juristat, which explores trends in the prevalence and nature of human trafficking as reported by Canadian police services and adult criminal courts. The report also links police records to court information to explore how incidents of human trafficking are processed in the criminal justice system. To read the full Juristat, please visit Statistics Canada for more information.

For a further example of increasing knowledge of human trafficking, in 2019-20 ESDC, through the Migrant Worker Support Network Pilot in British Columbia, provided orientation services to over 11,000 newly-arrived TFWs at the Vancouver Airport; improved the capacity of organizations to assist TFWs through the redistribution of $1.1M to over 20 non-profit organizations that provided case management and one-on-one support; and increased access to accurate information through the online Migrant Worker Hub which has received over 20,000 website visits.

Support for International Partners in Combatting Human Trafficking

Canada also provides support to international partners in their fight to counter human trafficking, also known internationally as trafficking in persons (TIP), through humanitarian, international development and capacity building assistance. The core focus is on prevention, protection, and the rehabilitation of trafficking victims through a gender-responsive and human rights-based approach. Official development assistance is key to reducing poverty and improving livelihoods. Poverty, inequality and lack of opportunity increases vulnerability to human trafficking, especially for women, children and youth. Canada supports low and middle-income countries to reduce vulnerabilities, especially for women, children, adolescents and young adults at risk of being trafficked, by promoting gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls and the protection of their human rights. Canada also supports the strengthening of labour laws, public health, education and child protection systems and helps build the capacity of law enforcement and justice systems to address all forms of sexual and gender-based violence.

Moreover, through the Anti-Crime Capacity-Building Program (ACCBP), Canada is also committed to implementing capacity-building initiatives aligned with Canada’s security interests to help countries that require assistance in their fight against transnational organized crime, including human trafficking. Since 2014, the ACCBP has invested more than $13.5 million towards anti-human trafficking efforts and initiatives.

Finally, through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), Canada supports small-scale, high-impact projects that respond to local priorities and needs, including those aimed at countering and combatting TIP. In 2019, CFLI funded $265,015 to support anti-TIP initiatives in 10 countries: Fiji, Laos, Lebanon, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines and China. Projects included a range of activities, from training students to educate their peers on children’s rights and TIP prevention, equipping law enforcement officials to identify and protect migrant workers victimized by traffickers, and empowering women vulnerable to TIP with a path out of poverty through education and vocational skills training.

Global Affairs Canada Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP)

Enhancing Border Security in Mexico and Guatemala ($595,000 over 3 years until 2020-21): This project, implemented by the Canada Border Services Agency, will enhance the capacities of Mexico’s Customs Administration (Servicio de Administración Tributaria – SAT) and Immigration Department (Instituto Nacional de Migración - INM) to better identify and interdict contraband, drugs and imposters, in order to disrupt smuggling routes and irregular migration that could facilitate international TIP.

Detection and prevention of TIP within Indigenous communities in Mexico ($995,000 over 3 years until 2020-21): In an effort to reduce TIP among Indigenous communities in Mexico, UNODC in partnership with the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (CDI) and with the support of the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) will implement a technical assistance project in selected pilot communities with the objective of detecting, preventing and combating TIP. The project aims to address not only the local dimensions of TIP but also TIP as part of transnational organized crime networks.

Cross-border Crimes against Women and Girls in the Northern Triangle ($4.318 million over 3 years until 2020-21): This project, implemented by Avocats sans frontières Canada, aims to strengthen the capacity of justice actors working in state institutions specializing in the criminal law enforcement of cross-border crimes, which can include TIP, against women, girls and other vulnerable people to help reduce impunity for these crimes.

Empowering Actors of Change against TIP and Exploitation, particularly for Women and Girls, in Honduras ($2.5 million over 3 years – until 2022): This project aims to build the professional capacities of key actors involved in the prosecution, protection and prevention of TIP in Honduras. Its objective is to improve the Honduran authorities’ institutional and community level response to TIP. More specifically, it will integrate a permanent, mandatory and specialized training course into the curricula of the National Police Academy, the Judicial School, the labor inspection department of the Ministry of Labor and social security, and within the Inter-institutional Commission against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking in Persons of Honduras (CICESCT). This will enable civil servants to build the technical capacity to address TIP with a gender and child-sensitive approach.


Victims and survivors of human trafficking require a wide range of supports and services that address their specific needs and assist them in their recovery and healing. Full and comprehensive protection for victims, and ensuring their safety, requires timely identification and response.

Through the National Strategy, the Government will continue to provide assistance to all victims of human trafficking, including foreign nationals who are vulnerable to being trafficked.

Through the Victims Fund, Justice Canada continues to provide funding to Canadian organizations that are working to address the needs of vulnerable victims of crime. Since 2012, over $6.1 million has been allocated to human trafficking projects through the Fund. The ongoing nature of this funding allows Justice Canada to focus on priorities, emerging trends and best practices as they are identified. In 2018, the amount of funding available each year for projects that develop or enhance services for victims of human trafficking through the Victims Fund was increased from $500,000 to $1 million annually. In fiscal year 2019-20, a total of 14 projects managed by community organizations and law enforcement agencies have been supported by the Victims Fund. The Fund supports projects that improve services for victims of human trafficking; provide training for law enforcement officers and front-line service providers; and support for labour trafficking victims through intensive case management, direct services, education, community capacity building and agency collaboration.

In 2019-20, the Victims Fund supported a number of projects, including:

Salvation Army-Deborah’s Gate, New Hope Outreach Labour Trafficking Case Management Services: The organization supports labour trafficked individuals through intensive case management, direct services, education and community capacity building and agency collaboration.

Covenant House Toronto, Covenant House Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate Program: The organization connects victims to resources and supports including housing, trauma counselling, employment and education assistance, addiction services and legal supports. They also provide training to Crown attorneys, police and judiciary services, and community partner agencies on the unique factors faced by human trafficking victims and how to best support them through trauma-informed practices.

Ottawa Police Services-Human Trafficking Unit, Human Trafficking Victim Support Program: The Program offers the services of a Human Trafficking Support Specialist for victims of human trafficking. The Program provides enhanced victim services and support before, during and after legal proceedings; early intervention with youth and adults to reduce the risk for vulnerable victims; and training for police officers, Crown Attorneys, health care providers and other groups to better detect and identify cases of human trafficking and victimization and to enhance the prosecution of human trafficking and sexual assault offenses.

Support for Organizations Combatting Human Trafficking

In 2019-20, Public Safety Canada continued to support the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline through the CPCSOC. The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking (Centre) operates Canada’s national hotline, which includes an online portal and a referral mechanism to connect victims and survivors to local law enforcement, emergency shelters, transportation, trauma counselors and a range of other trauma-informed services and supports. The Hotline allows victims to easily access the help they need. The Hotline will also support data collection efforts to better understand the scope of human trafficking in Canada, increase public awareness around this crime and provide a resource for those seeking information on human trafficking.

Did You Know?

The Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010 offers anonymous and/or confidential services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Services are offered in more than 200 languages and are accessible to the deaf, hard-of-hearing and non-verbal. For more information please visit

The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking is a national charity dedicated to ending all types of human trafficking in Canada. In addition to operating the National Hotline, the Centre works with the various stakeholders dedicated to this issue, including all levels of government, private sector businesses, and front line service providers, in order to advance best practices, mobilize collective action and create systemic change across Canada to end human trafficking. The Centre also engages in collaborative efforts to strengthen services and supports for victims and survivors of human trafficking and to help educate the Canadian public on ways to identify the signs of human trafficking and protect communities against all forms of this crime. For more information please visit

Further, Public Safety Canada and the RCMP provided funding to support the Clan Mothers Healing Village in 2019-20. This project uses Indigenous models and methodologies of healing to address gaps in supports for women and LGBTQ2+ who have experienced gender-based violence and trauma resulting from sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Two healing gatherings were held in Thunder Bay, Ontario and Kelowna, British Columbia. The key outcomes included healing for survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking; a publication of online resources; and a documentation of best practices from the Clan Mothers. As a result of this initiative the Clan Mothers Healing Village launched a digital media website in fall of 2020, which celebrates the stories, knowledge, solutions and leadership of persons with lived experiences of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. For more information please visit

Protection of Canadian Victims of Crime Abroad

GAC provides consular assistance to Canadian citizens in distress, including those who may have been victims of human trafficking. Services can include liaising with relevant authorities abroad and in Canada and by providing guidance in obtaining assistance such as filing police reports; identifying local legal services; medical aid; shelter; counseling; transferring funds if financial help is required; and, providing emergency loan to return to Canada in certain emergency and exceptional circumstances.

Protecting Foreign Nationals

The Government of Canada has protection measures for foreign national victims of human trafficking. Since 2006, IRCC has issued temporary resident permits to victims of human trafficking (VTIP TRPs) without legal status in Canada, when appropriate. In 2019-20, IRCC issued 201 VTIP TRPs. VTIP TRP holders receive health care coverage, including medical and psychological services, through the Interim Federal Health Program. VTIP TRP holders are also eligible to apply for an open work permit if their TRP has been issued for 180 days or more.  IRCC also conducts administrative investigations to identify human trafficking facilitators and victims, disrupt networks of facilitated human trafficking, and collaborate with enforcement partners to initiate or provide assistance with criminal investigations. In 2019-20, IRCC pursued 19 large-scale administrative investigations involving allegations of human trafficking.

In June 2019, IRCC launched the open work permit for vulnerable workers. This regulatory provision allows the issuance of time-limited open work permits to temporary foreign workers who hold valid employer-specific work permits and who are experiencing abuse or are at risk of abuse in the context of their employment in Canada. The open work permit provides workers with a means to leave an abusive employment situation without jeopardizing their authorization to continue working in Canada.

To protect foreign nationals from forced labour and other exploitative and abusive situations, ESDC has an employer compliance regime under the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program that includes unannounced on-site inspections, in addition to other compliance activities such as administrative reviews and announced on-site inspections. This was supported by an investment of $15 million over three years, beginning in 2018-19. ESDC will continue these efforts within their existing departmental budget. With regards to forced labour investigations, from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, ESDC has noted 3,343 leads and allegations of potential abuse from the TFW Program. Of those leads, 51 of them were human trafficking related and are reported to the relevant authority, such as CBSA and/or RCMP.

In December 2019, a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Dedicated Expert Group within the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) was established to coordinate, consult, and develop strategies to combat human trafficking and improve the Agency’s ability to identify and intercept instances of human trafficking at the border and within Canada. In July 2020, a national reporting template was launched for the consistent entry of human trafficking activities with the plan to develop a dashboard once sufficient data is collected. The TIP Dedicated Expert Group will help strengthen intelligence production and training to ensure that front-line officers, in Canada and abroad, are better prepared when detecting and disrupting human trafficking, thus resulting in more robust referrals to the RCMP for investigation and prosecution.

Consultations on Potential Supply Chain Legislation

In response to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development’s study on child labour in supply chains, the Government of Canada conducted public consultations in 2019 to seek the views of the private sector, civil society, investors, labour unions, and affected communities on possible measures to address labour exploitation, including child labour, forced labour and human trafficking, in supply chains. Various international models of supply chain legislation were discussed with stakeholders, and participants considered lessons learned, best practices, and whether or not elements of these models could be appropriate in the Canadian context.

In addition to these efforts, GAC remains committed to developing guidance to address impacts on child rights in international assistance programming, including targeted guidance on child labour. The Government of Canada continues to explore options to address labour exploitation, including child labour, forced labour and human trafficking, in global supply chains, and to promote responsible business practices.

Importation Ban on Goods Produced by Forced or Compulsory Labour

The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) includes a comprehensive and enforceable labour chapter with a number of new provisions that support the advancement of fair and inclusive trade. These provisions address violence against workers exercising their labour rights, provide protection for migrant workers, and prohibit the importation of goods produced by forced or compulsory labour. Canada is currently developing a mechanism to operationalize this prohibition on the importation of goods produced by forced or compulsory labour. This ban, which applies to all goods irrespective of their country of origin, took effect when the CUSMA came into force on July 1, 2020, and is an additional tool at Canada’s disposal to combat forced labour globally.


Training for Government Officials

Educating and training government officials remains a priority for Canada and an important tool in the fight against human trafficking. A number of federal departments provide training to their officials who may come in contact with a victim of human trafficking or a perpetrator. In 2019-20, the Government of Canada provided training to approximately 1,609 government officials, including CBSA recruits and officers, new Canadian Defence Attaché personnel, consular officials, law enforcement recruits and officers, immigration officials and others.

Canada trains its border officers through the CBSA Officer Induction Training Program, where all Border Service Officers (BSO) are introduced to the issue of human trafficking through the People at Risk course. The CBSA also provides an online course entitled Trafficking in Persons (TIP) for its BSOs, Criminal Investigators, Liaison Officers, Intelligence Officers, Inland Enforcement Officers, and other officers who may come in contact with a victim or perpetrator. This course provides information on how to help prevent or intercept TIP cases, promote victim safety by referring individuals to government services and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for assistance, and support investigations.

In addition, IRCC provides training and guidance through the annual VTIP Symposium to its Domestic Network Officers who issue Temporary Resident Permits to Victims of Trafficking in Persons (VTIP TRPs). The VTIP Symposium is part of IRCC’s ongoing effort to ensure that immigration officers have the resources and support they require to identify victims of human trafficking and make informed decisions. In both 2019 and 2020, eight officers from across Canada attended the Symposium, which provided an opportunity to share best practices and identify areas for improvement. IRCC also provides updated guidance and program delivery instructions to officers regarding the issuance of VTIP TRPs. Since 2016, all new IRCC overseas migration officers completed mandatory training on human trafficking prior to being posted abroad. The current training is a four- to six-hour online course that was developed by the province of British Columbia, in collaboration with Public Safety Canada and Justice Canada. This training course provides information on how to recognize, protect, and assist a person who may have been trafficked in Canada. Since July 2018, over 50 new Foreign Service Officers from IRCC’s International Network have completed the training on Human Trafficking, which is mandatory for all new Foreign Service Officers.

The RCMP, in consultation with law enforcement partners, lawyers and service providers, partnered with the Canadian Police College to develop a new eight-day Human Trafficking Investigator’s course for Canadian law enforcement. This course includes: information on Canada’s human trafficking legislation; effective investigative techniques; the effects of trauma on victims; interviewing techniques; how to build trust and obtain cooperation from victims; and successful human trafficking case studies. Additionally, there have been new components added on Indigenous awareness, labour trafficking, prevention, and immigration. The RCMP works collaboratively with Justice Canada officials who continue to contribute to the Human Trafficking Investigator’s course by providing training on the specific human trafficking offences contained in the Criminal Code of Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, as well as other relevant Criminal Code offences.

Did you know?

The ILO estimates that there are approximately 152 million child labourers globally, with 73 million children engaged in hazardous work, and 4.3 million in forced labour. It also estimates 21 million victims of forced labour worldwide.

Money Laundering

Human trafficking can be very profitable and considered low risk for offenders, given the clandestine and hidden nature of the crime. As of 2014, profits generated from human trafficking were estimated at $150 billion a year, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Human trafficking profits can be laundered when traffickers try to mask the criminal proceeds generated by sex trafficking as legitimate income. The ways in which traffickers are laundering their criminal proceeds are constantly changing and becoming more complex as crime circles develop sophisticated strategies and methods of operation. Following the money, and targeting the profits generated from sexual exploitation, is necessary to combat human trafficking in Canada.

The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), and law enforcement agencies across the country have made the fight against human trafficking a priority. In addition to following the money to identify potential traffickers and discover financial connections, FINTRAC also provides intelligence that may advance investigations and ease the burden of proof on victims in court. 

Canada has seen a significant increase in suspicious transaction reporting related to money laundering and human trafficking in the sex trade. With the increased suspicious transaction reporting from Canadian businesses since April 2018 to March 2019, FINTRAC has been able to provide 250 disclosures of actionable financial intelligence to Canada's municipal, provincial and federal police forces in support of their human trafficking investigations.

Launched in 2016, Project Protect is a unique public‐private partnership that targets human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation by focusing on the money laundering aspect of the crime. The partnership includes FINTRAC; reporting entities, such as financial institutions and money services businesses; regulators; law enforcement agencies at the municipal, provincial and federal level; as well as non-profit organizations and technology companies. FINTRAC and Canada's major banks joined forces to develop a comprehensive list of indicators to help businesses identify financial transactions and patterns of activities related to human trafficking in the sex trade that may be indicative of money laundering. These indicators are now triggers for banks, businesses and individuals that are required by law to report financial transaction information to FINTRAC to complete suspicious transaction reports and submit them to FINTRAC in support of Project Protect.


An effective Canadian response to human trafficking requires many actors working together, including the Government of Canada, provinces and territories, Indigenous partners, law enforcement, academics, victims and survivors, civil society, service providers, the private sector and international partners. The objective of this strategic pillar of the National Strategy is to build and improve national and international coordination and cooperation to address human trafficking.  

Provinces and territories provide important services, such as health and social services, emergency housing, and legal aid to victims and survivors. In some cases, provinces and territories have established their own strategies and action plans to address human trafficking in their jurisdictions. Maintaining and developing strong partnerships within and outside of the Government of Canada is critical to Canada’s success in combatting this crime.

In 2019-20, the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Trafficking in Persons Working Group continued to facilitate federal-provincial-territorial engagement, coordination and information sharing in support of Canada’s strategic policy and programmatic responses to human trafficking. Furthermore, discussions on human trafficking and ways to combat the crime continue to progress at the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Deputy Ministers and Ministers tables, such as the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Deputy Ministers Responsible for Justice and Public Safety and the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers Responsible for Human Rights.

Stakeholder Engagement

Whether in Canada or abroad, human trafficking is a complex crime. It adapts to new environments and challenges with traffickers using new tools, methods, and strategies to traffic individuals and maximize financial gain through their exploitation. While the Government of Canada is responsible for Canada’s response to this crime, provinces and territories, civil society, private sector, academics, and law enforcement play a role in combatting human trafficking across Canada and abroad. Therefore, it is paramount that the Government of Canada engages regularly with key stakeholders to ensure its responses to this crime adapt to shifting threats and emerging trends. Stakeholder engagement is also an opportunity to: share essential information, including best practices and lessons learned; identify gaps and priority issues; and foster collaboration to explore innovative solutions and implement effective policies and programs. Throughout 2019-20, the Government of Canada participated in a number of stakeholder engagement events to seek information sharing and knowledge building opportunities.

In November 2019, a federal official from the Government of Canada participated as a panelist at the Council for Refugees National Forum on Human Trafficking. Representatives from the Government of Canada also participated in the Forum through knowledge and information sharing and engaging in breakout workshop sessions to learn more about key stakeholder concerns and priorities, inform policy and program development, and explore areas of potential collaboration.

FINTRAC also presented on human trafficking and Project Protect as part of several public speaking engagements throughout the country, including the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist Conferences and Chapter Meetings, the 17th Annual Anti-Money Laundering Compliance & Financial Crime Conference, and the Toronto Dominion Bank: Global Anti-Money Laundering Conference. FINTRAC also presented twice at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) workshop on financial investigations of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, which was held in Cairo, Egypt. The purpose of the workshop was to help train Egyptian law enforcement agencies on methods of conducting financial investigation and financial analysis in relation to trafficking in persons and smuggling migrants.

Additionally, FINTRAC speaks regularly at the Canadian Police College and the Ontario Police College to audiences composed primarily of federal, provincial, and municipal law enforcement.

International Engagement

Through enhanced strategic international engagement on human trafficking, both bilaterally and multilaterally, Canada promoted the accession to and implementation of international legal instruments, and shared best practices and lessons learned through regional and multilateral  bodies and processes. These include the United Nations; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; Alliance 8.7; the Organization of American States; the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; the International Labour Organization; the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM – Americas); the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime; the Global Compact for Migration; the Global Compact for Refugees, the G20, the G7 and its Roma-Lyon Group, among others.

Did You Know?

Canada operates two complementary dispute resolution mechanisms: 1) the National Contact Point (NCP) for Responsible Business Conduct; and, 2) the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, which are mandated to advise Canadian companies on their polices and practices with respect to responsible business conduct, including reviewing allegations of human rights abuses arising from the operations of Canadian companies abroad. These voluntary mechanisms reflect the objectives of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises.

As part of the National Strategy, GAC is enhancing international engagement to better leverage multilateral and bilateral partnerships in countering this crime. For instance, Canada joined Alliance 8.7 on March 4, 2020; Canada is seeking full membership in the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime; and plans to join the United Nations’ Blue Heart Campaign.

Internationally, Canada advocates for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where human trafficking is explicitly mentioned in the targets of three goals: 5.2, 8.7, and 16, and the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration, which includes an objective to counter this crime. Moreover, Canada advocates for international acknowledgement that certain groups are more at risk of being trafficked and that they require support and protection adapted to gender identity, cultural sensitivity, and the trauma they have endured.

In the context of the 100th anniversary of the ILO in June 2019, Canada ratified the ILO Protocol 29 on Forced Labour. The Protocol provides specific guidance on how to eliminate all forms of forced labour, including human trafficking. Its ratification is part of the Government’s efforts to address labour exploitation and better protect millions of workers at home and abroad.   

In 2019-20, Canada participated in a number of multi-lateral events to combat human trafficking globally and promote best practices, such as:

Critical Success Factors

There are three critical success factors that will be instrumental in achieving the National Strategy’s objectives:1) effective governance and accountability; 2) an evidence-based approach; and 3) cooperation and collaboration.

1. Effective Governance and Accountability

Strong governance and accountability is essential to the successful delivery of the National Strategy. Strategic direction and oversight are crucial, given the numerous federal departments implicated. Further, strong governance will ensure linkages are made between human trafficking and other horizontal issues such as online child sexual exploitation, gender-based violence, and disproportionate rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Also, recognizing the important role that provinces and territories, Indigenous communities and civil society have in combatting this crime, strong governance is required to ensure that roles and responsibilities are clearly identified and a whole-of-government approach is achieved.

Establishing Strong Governance

The Human Trafficking Taskforce, which was established under the 2012-2016 National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and brings together over 10 federal departments and agencies to address all aspects of human trafficking, will continue to implement a wide range of anti-human trafficking activities under the National Strategy. In 2019-20, the Government of Canada strengthened this body by establishing standing, issue-specific working groups under it. These working groups will meet regularly to advance efforts in key areas, including Research, Information Sharing and Data Collection; Victim and Survivor Supports/Program Funding Coordination; Public Awareness and Outreach; Labour Trafficking and Emerging Issues; and International Engagement.

The Government of Canada has also established senior-level governance bodies to ensure strategic guidance and linkages are made. A Director-General Steering Committee on Human Trafficking has been established, which includes representation from 17 federal departments and agencies, to guide the Government of Canada’s efforts to address human trafficking, oversee the implementation of the National Strategy and facilitate linkages to related initiatives and priorities among member departments. This DG Steering Committee will also serve as the decision-making body for the strategic guidance of the National Strategy. In addition, Public Safety Canada will convene an Assistant Deputy Minister Roundtable annually to bring together senior leadership on this important topic and discuss forward planning, strategic linkages and other emerging issues related to human trafficking.

2. Evidence-Based Approach

The Government of Canada recognizes that empirical evidence, reliable data and data collection mechanisms are cornerstones of the National Strategy. As such, data collection, data use and reporting on human trafficking are critical aspects of Canada’s response to this crime. Establishing new data-gathering mechanisms and ensuring policies and programs to combat human trafficking continue to be evidence-based and responsive to new evidence will support the successful implementation of the National Strategy.

Closing Knowledge Gaps

Enhancing knowledge of human trafficking is a critical success factor to ensuring the overall success of the National Strategy. The Government of Canada will invest up to $920,000 over four years in research and data collection efforts. This will complement research funding opportunities available through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Social Services and Humanities Research Council.

Public Safety Canada will lead efforts with federal and provincial partners to enhance human trafficking data collection and reporting, including consistency and comparability. The goal is a robust approach that improves how human trafficking data is collected, used, managed and shared among federal and provincial partners, stakeholders and with Canadians. This will include continued work with CCJCSS to undertake relevant and needed studies and analysis of human trafficking in Canada. 

3. Cooperation and Collaboration

A national response to human trafficking must complement and build on initiatives in other jurisdictions and levels of government and avoid duplicating existing efforts. Meaningful partnerships between civil society, the private sector, research and international partners is essential to share our lessons and insights.

Working Together with Provinces and Territories to Improve the Collective Response

Building on existing federal-provincial-territorial fora, the Government of Canada is enhancing its involvement in federal-provincial-territorial tables to ensure it is working collaboratively with provinces and territories to coordinate a collective response to the crime. A priority is strengthening the data collection relationship with provincial and territorial partners in order to address knowledge and data gaps and gain a better understanding of the full picture of human trafficking in Canada.

Path Forward

The Government of Canada’s National Strategy will be refined as promising practices and new trends are identified, and as new opportunities to strengthen coordination across Canada emerge. It will adapt to new challenges, emerging trends and changes in the nature of this crime. Performance will be monitored, measured, and areas for improvement will be identified.

This year has brought new challenges and new realities as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Quarantine measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have increased the isolation of human trafficking victims and survivors, including reducing their access to supports and services needed to escape from exploitative circumstances. Furthermore, the economic slowdown has amplified existing socio-economic disadvantages for vulnerable populations, making them more susceptible to sex and labour trafficking.

While significant work has been achieved during this time, the Government of Canada recognizes that more needs to be done, including to better understand gaps in Canada’s collective response to this crime. The National Strategy will continue to work towards building responsive tools and resources that adapt to Canada’s new realities and complement other government priorities in an effort to build stronger and safer communities across Canada.


  1. 1

    Criminal Code of Canada, R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 279,

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