Toronto City Takes Steps to Combat Human Trafficking and Provide Victim Support
ON, Feb. 27, 2013 – Council adopted recommendations that will see improved support for victims, training for city staff to better recognize the problem and collaboration with community groups, according to the City of Toronto's website.
“We welcome council’s plan because it will address and raise awareness of human trafficking, both when it happens to victims locally and to those who are brought here,” says Carol Howes, who attended the council meeting.
She estimates that the agency for homeless youth sees as many as a dozen sexually exploited trafficking victims annually. But she cautions that number could be far higher as young people are often too fearful to disclose their experiences.
“One victim of this terrible crime is too many,” Howes says. “We find these young people are among the most damaged that we see and often need long-term support for physical and psychological problems, including post-traumatic stress and addiction.”
Covenant House staff support these youth to rebuild their lives, as well as help them navigate the justice system in the event that they are prepared to lay charges.
“We are deeply concerned about this issue and want to lend our experience and expertise to assist the city,” Howes says. She notes that the agency has worked closely with police on a number of human trafficking cases and could help them develop the proposed training program. It can also provide valuable information to the city’s plans to better support victims and work collaboratively with a number of community groups.
Covenant House Toronto is the country’s largest shelter for homeless youth with the widest range of services under one roof. During the past 30 years, the agency has grown to be a national leader in the care of homeless youth and has served more than 82,000 young people. To do this, Covenant House relies on donors for 85 percent of its almost $19-million operating budget.
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