We applaud the Province’s recent announcement of a coordinated and comprehensive anti-trafficking plan. This is a necessary first step towards combatting this heinous crime that primarily victimizes young girls and women. The new plan was unveiled in a media event held at Covenant House. Over the past three decades as the country’s largest homeless youth agency, we have seen that homeless and vulnerable girls are frequently exploited.
“The new provincial plan is a significant step in the right direction,” says Bruce Rivers, our executive director. “We look forward to continuing to work with the government as it moves toward a more coordinated and focused approach to address this critical issue in Ontario.”
Ontario will invest up to $72 million in an anti-human trafficking strategy aimed at increasing awareness and coordination, enhancing justice-sector initiatives and improving survivors’ access to services.
Four provincial cabinet ministers presented the plan, including Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues Tracy MacCharles, Community and Social Services Minister Helen Jaczek, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
Earlier this year, we launched our own wide-ranging anti-trafficking plan along with a $10-million fundraising campaign to support it over the next five years. Our “Urban Response Model” includes measures ranging from prevention to enhanced victim services, including a new transitional housing program, and a research and evaluation component to assess the services and develop an online resource hub. The Rogers Home, a separate residential program for young, female sex-trafficking victims is set to open in the fall. To develop the plan, we have partnered with more than 10 leading youth-serving organizations expert in trauma and addiction, police and legal professionals and hospitals.
Sex trafficking, the most common type of human trafficking in Canada, is a growing public issue and is a largely domestic crime. The large majority of victims are female, with a median age of 17, and a majority are Canadian citizens.
According to the Ontario Government, the province is a major centre for human trafficking in Canada, accounting for roughly 65 percent of police-reported cases nationally. City police estimate the local number of victims may be in the thousands, although incidents often go undetected.