Covenant House urges premier to adopt stronger
anti-sex-trafficking effort

TORONTO, July 29, 2015 – Premier Kathleen Wynne was urged today to do more to combat the scourge of sex trafficking in the province by Canada’s largest homeless youth agency. Click here to read the letter.

On the eve of the United Nations Day Against Trafficking in Persons, Covenant House Toronto appealed to the premier to adopt a broader, more coordinated approach to tackle the victimization of local girls and young women.

The agency also launched a public awareness video aimed at dispelling the myth that sex trafficking is an international issue and educating the public about this horrific and highly lucrative crime.

Ontario has seen the bulk of cases of this form of modern day slavery that most often ensnares local girls. Between 2006 and 2011, almost half the charges laid across Canada were in Toronto. The city has been identified as a hub for trafficking in the province. Most Ontario victims are local, as young as 13 and on average, 17.

“Under Premier Wynne’s leadership, the province could escalate its efforts to tackle this horrific and lucrative crime,” Bruce Rivers, Covenant House executive director, said. “The province could strengthen its efforts with coordinated law enforcement, consistent, specialized services for victims and targeted public awareness campaigns.”

Other provinces, like British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba, have taken similar approaches. British Columbia has created a provincial policy framework while Alberta coordinates its efforts through community agencies. Rivers said Ontario could draw on these examples to strengthen initiatives it already has in place.

While homeless youth are a prime target for sex traffickers, Rivers says they are luring unsuspecting girls and young women in malls, schoolyards and online.

With more than 30 years’ experience providing hands-on services to young victims of sex trafficking, Covenant House has been increasing its services to victims and its advocacy efforts around the issue as it has seen its caseload double in the past year to 40 victims. Increasingly, they have been young, middle-class girls.

Rivers said the agency would welcome the opportunity to help the government develop new measures as would the many community groups dedicated to this cause.

Along with an online petition urging the Ontario government to mobilize its efforts, Covenant House has created a four-minute video – a dramatization of the real-life experience of “Amy”, a young woman forced into prostitution by a trafficker she thought was her boyfriend. The video serves as a tool to educate parents about what to look for if they fear their daughter may be involved in sex trafficking while also warning girls about the dangers of trafficking.

For more, contact:

Erin Boudreau, Associate
Communications Manager
416 204-7094

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