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5px; font: 12.0px ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 15.0px}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}Human trafficking is an intolerable and ongoing issue present in Canadian society, and represents a serious concern for the government, and law enforcement. According to Oxford Dictionary, Human Trafficking is defined as, “The action or practice of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labour or sexual exploitation” (Oxford University Press, 2017). The Canadian government takes strict action towards human trafficking, enacting legislation, methods, and programs to detect, and convict those committing such crimes, and in order to assist, and compensate victims.

The implementation and enactment of legislation ensures the protection of individual’s rights. Furthermore, the organization of government action plans assist to detect the presence of human trafficking crimes. Moreover, compensation and support programs administrated by the Canadian government assist in the recovery of victims. In and of itself, the Canadian government takes strict action against human trafficking through the implementation of legislation, the organization of various action plans, and the support and compensation provided to victims. The implementation and enactment of legislation ensures the protection of individual’s rights. Ontario’s Bill 96, the Anti-Human Trafficking Act, was passed by the Minister of Status of Women, Indira Naidoo-Harris (ARPA Canada, 2017). The bill makes effective changes to Ontario law. Bill 96 increases protection for survivors of human trafficking, creating a tort of human trafficking (ARPA Canada, 2017).

The act enables people affected by human trafficking to apply for a restraining order to protect themselves from traffickers. It also makes it possible for survivors to sue their traffickers for compensation, in order to help survivors restore and rebuild their lives (Legislative Assembly of Ontario, 2017). On the federal level, the federal government passed Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act in 2014. The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced legislation to bring into force a former Private Member’s Bill C-452 that amends the Criminal Code (Department of Justice Canada, 2017). The legislation would help prove that the accused exercised control or influence over the victim’s movements by proving that the accused lived with the victim. This amendment would make the offence easier to prove in court and would reduce the likelihood that victims would have to testify (Department of Justice Canada, 2017).

Also, the protection of immigrants and refugees from human trafficking crimes is of utmost importance as well, therefore Parliament enacted the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA Canada, 2017). Section 118 of this law, which took effect in 2002, provides that: No person shall knowingly organize the coming into Canada of one or more persons by means of abduction, fraud, deception or use or threat of force or coercion. For the purpose of subsection (1), “organize,” with respect to persons, includes their recruitment or transportation and, after their entry into Canada, the receipt or harbouring of those persons (Parliament of Canada, 2006). Human Traffickers prey on the most vulnerable including immigrants and refugees, and ensuring their safety and protection is an important aspect of the government’s fight towards effective change. These bills and acts, combined with the Ontario government’s announcement to invest $72 million in a plan to fight human trafficking, and the appointment of an Anti-Human Trafficking Director, (Department of Justice Canada, 2017) are steps in the right direction to change the prominence of human trafficking crimes in Canada. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Criminal Code of Canada are forms of legislation that guarantee the rights and freedoms of all Canadians, and implement laws associated with all types of crime, and the punishments for such actions. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

It is also stated, that everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment (Government of Canada, 2017). Both of these excerpts are violated by the practice of human trafficking. The victims of human trafficking are subjected to violence and abuse both physically and psychologically, and they are stripped of their freedom and lack protection. They are essentially deprived of their basic human rights, which is a direct violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This direct violation can be used in court, making it easier for victims of human trafficking to seek justice. Moreover, under the Criminal Code of Canada a number of laws exist to combat and prevent trafficking in persons, outlining the penalties one may face if convicted of human trafficking. In terms of criminal law, sections 279.01 to 279.

04 of the Criminal Code specifically target trafficking in persons. These provisions essentially outline three prohibitions. The first contains the prohibition on trafficking in persons, defined as the recruitment, transport, concealment or harbouring of a person, or the exercise of control, or influence over the movements of a person, for the purpose of exploitation (Parliament of Canada, 2013).

In Section 279.01 it states, Trafficking in Persons carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years, where the offence involved kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault or death, and a maximum penalty of 14 years and a mandatory minimum penalty of 4 years in all other cases (Parliament of Canada, 2013). Section 279.01 states, Trafficking of a person under the age of eighteen years which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum penalty of 6 years where the offence involved kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault or death, and a maximum penalty of 14 years and a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years in all other cases (Parliament of Canada, 2013). Section 279.02 of the Criminal Code prohibits a person from receiving a financial or other material benefit from trafficking and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

This offence covers those who do not necessarily engage in actual recruitment or transportation, such as those who harbour a trafficked person for a fee, or someone who is aware that a person was trafficked (Parliament of Canada, 2013).  Finally, the third prohibition, section 279.03, outlaws the withholding or destroying of identity, immigration or travel documents to facilitate trafficking in persons, and carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment (Parliament of Canada, 2013).

These laws are set out in order to punish those responsible for human trafficking. Such laws have been successful in convicting many individuals, however it is difficult to do. The use of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Criminal Code of Canada, ensure the safety and protection of Canadian citizens and may deter individuals from committing human trafficking related crimes, as well as assist in the conviction of those who violated the laws associated with human trafficking practices. Furthermore, the organization of government action plans assist to detect the presence of human trafficking crimes. The Government of Canada has launched a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking which strengthens ongoing efforts of the federal government to combat human trafficking and introduces new initiatives to prevent human trafficking, identify victims, protect the most vulnerable, and prosecute perpetrators (Public Safety Canada, 2017). The National Action Plan aims to better support organizations providing assistance to victims and it builds on current responses and commitment to work together with partners to prevent and combat this disturbing crime. It builds on Canada’s international and domestic experience and provides new initiatives in order to address human trafficking, including the creation of a new enforcement team led by the RCMP.

A Human Trafficking Taskforce, led by Public Safety Canada and composed of key departments, is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the National Action Plan commitments and for coordinating the federal anti-human trafficking response and reporting annually on progress to the public (Public Safety Canada, 2017). Canada focuses on four core areas, known as the Four-Pillars, these include, the prevention of human trafficking, the protection of victims, the prosecution of offenders, and working in partnerships domestically and internationally. The National Action Plan promotes training for service providers, supports and develops new human trafficking awareness campaigns, provides assistance to communities to identify people and places most at risk, and strengthens Child Protection Systems within the Canadian International Development Agency’s programs (Public Safety Canada, 2017). As part of the action plan, the federal government has pledged to invest $6 million yearly in anti-trafficking initiatives (Parliment of Canada, 2013).

The National Action Plan includes a number of methods to increase awareness and training for police. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police will develop specialized training for police officers and will add human trafficking awareness to the training curriculum (Parliament of Canada, 2017). Data is required to identify victims, fulfill the needs of survivors, and raise awareness among the public.

This National Action Plan will use partnerships to collect data on the extent and origins of human trafficking to better identify and track trends on human trafficking in Canada (Public Safety Canada, 2017). The National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking is an essential part of Canada’s efforts to detect human trafficking, and strengthen the governments enforcement and prosecution of all human trafficking related crimes. An important action program organized by government agencies is Project Protect. Project Protect is a partnership between the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, financial institutions and law enforcement that is using money trails to detect and investigate traffickers (Tavia Grant, 2017). Banks are starting to flag suspicious accounts, based on multiple motel bookings, large purchases at drug stores and frequent ATM deposits in the middle of the night. They report suspicious activity to FinTRAC, which in turn notifies law enforcement.

In the last year, FinTRAC has made 102 disclosures to police across Canada, and the Toronto police made 77 human-trafficking arrests, and laid 529 charges for trafficking or related offences (Tavia Grant, 2017). FinTRAC released an alert to 31,000 businesses, partners and police that included a list of indicators that detect signs of trafficking. Indicators include payments for online escort ads, frequent hotel and motel bookings along, frequent large purchases at pharmacies and lingerie shops, frequent deposits or withdrawals between 10 p.m. and 6 a.

m., along with banking activity at ATMs in different cities or provinces (Tavia Grant, 2017). Project Protect has assisted in the detection of human trafficking crimes and has helped convict perpetrators and allowed victims to seek justice.

For example, an arrest under the Project Protect label involved a man who forced a woman into the sex trade. For two years, she was moved across the country. The man would advertise her online, and then transfer money into his bank account, leaving the victim with nothing to support herself. She was cut off from friends and family, and denied routine medical treatment (Tavia Grant, 2017). The Project Protect disclosure was helpful in validating her story and in convicting those responsible and involved in the act.

Therefore, The National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Project Protect are crucial additions to Canadian law enforcement, focusing on awareness, prevention and detection. These organizations have assisted and continue to assist vulnerable individuals throughout Canada, allowing the Canadian Government to take a positive step towards effective change regarding the prominence of human trafficking in Canada. Moreover, compensation and support programs administrated by the Canadian government assist in the recovery of victims. Human trafficking robs the safety, livelihood and dignity of those who are exploited and abused. Trafficking exists where social and economic conditions are facilitated by practices that discriminate against women and other vulnerable people such as children, youth who are economically disadvantaged, LGBTQ2, and immigrants.

The survivors are controlled mentally, physically and emotionally by traffickers, making it difficult for them to leave and find help. Those who are able to escape often need support through trauma counselling, addictions recovery, job training and more (“Ontario Supporting Specialized services, 2017). The Government of Canada works with provinces and territories, law enforcement, victim services, Indigenous and other community organizations and international partners to combat human trafficking, to support victims and potential victims, to raise awareness and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice (Department of Justice Canada, 2017). Most of these victim services are offered at the provincial level in Canada. Agencies that provide assistance to trafficked persons include those that focus on issues of poverty and the needs of immigrants, and female victims of various types of abuse and violence (Parliament of Canada, 2013).

The Hope Found Project was launched by Voice Found, an Ottawa non-profit organization that works to prevent child sex abuse and sex trafficking and provide healing, recovery and support to human trafficking survivors (“Human Trafficking Initiative gives hope,” 2016). It provides survivors of human trafficking aged 13 and older access to a range of health services in a safe, non-judgmental and culturally sensitive setting (“Ontario Supporting Specialized services,” 2017) Since launching the Hope Found Project at the end of May 2016, Voice Found has already helped a significant number of women and girls find their way to a new life (Voice Found, 2017). After years of being given basic necessities, some victims find it difficult to provide for themselves once they have left, which can make it tempting to return to their former lives.The shame of having been trafficked in the first place, and low self-esteem, can also make people prone to relapsing (“A rise of Human Trafficking prompts peer support, 2016”). The Hope Found Project provides victims with basic needs such food, shelter, and clothing. For mid to long term assistance it provides housing, safety, transportation, medical care, psychological and emotional support programs, legal support, and trauma and anxiety counselling.

A significant part of the program is peer support from people who themselves have experienced similar traumas (“A rise of Human Trafficking prompts peer support,” 2016). In comparison, Covenant House also does a lot of work with human trafficking victims and survivors. Covenant House provides stable housing, access to addiction and mental health counselling, access to employment and education programs, peer support, and mentorship. The assistance and programs are critical to ensure that victims do not relapse (Covenant House, 2017).

Covenant House has assisted trafficking victims through their crisis shelter and in 2016, they opened The Rogers Home, a residential program for trafficked girls to serve their specialized needs (Covenant House, 2017). A prime example of Covenant House’s assistance to victims is demonstrated through Amy’s story. Amy struggled with self-esteem, and drank excessively to find some belonging and escape.

This is when she met Ryan, Amy fell madly in love. After two months together, Ryan complained to Amy that he was in terrible debt, so she lent him some money. He asked Amy to work as an escort for a short time so they would have enough money to build a life together. She agreed. Amy did not know that this was always Ryan’s plan.

He was a drug dealer and a petty criminal who was looking to expand his enterprise. When Amy began to work at the massage parlour, she was expected to work 12-hour days. She would have sex with about eight men a day, making over $2,000 daily that she would dutifully surrender. One day she decided it was time to escape, so in the middle of the night, she fled her tormentor. With the help of Covenant House, Amy was able to get the help she needed, recover from her addictions, and work towards a brighter future (Covenant House, 2017). Covenant House, deals with many cases such as Amy’s.

These young women need specialized care in a safe, non-judgmental space alongside other girls with shared experiences. One that offers life skills, assistance, and trauma and addiction counselling for trafficked girls to build a life free from exploitation (Covenant House, 2017). A major issue associated with human trafficking in Canada is the amount of Indigenous women lured into the human trafficking industry. Aboriginal women are easy prey for human traffickers because they are more likely to suffer from poverty, drug addictions and mental health problems. Women and girls are forced into the sex trade by pimps acting as boyfriends, gangs and even members of their own families (“Aboriginal Women, girls target for human trafficking,” 2014). The Canadian government’s relationship with Indigenous peoples has been an unhealthy one, Justin Trudeau is the first Canadian Prime Minister to promise on behalf of the Canadian government that they would do better to improve the lives of Aboriginal Canadians and achieve reconciliation, this includes the issue of human trafficking among Indigenous peoples. Trudeau states, “We have been working hard, in partnership with other orders of government, and with indigenous leaders in Canada, to correct past injustices and bring about a better quality of life for Indigenous Peoples in Canada,” (“Justin Trudeau vows to do better,” 2017). Representatives from national aboriginal organizations and federal and provincial governments met in Ottawa for a national meeting on missing and murdered First Nations women.

They discussed the causes, like human trafficking, and the steps to take in order to prevent them and support the survivors (“Human Trafficking is part of the story,” 2015). The trafficking of aboriginal women and girls requires solutions, these include better training and more resources for police human trafficking units, amending the legal definition of human trafficking to aid in prosecution, offering more support for victims and addressing the chronic poverty and lack of family support in aboriginal communities (“Human Trafficking is part of the story,” 2015). The Ontario Native Women’s Association is a non-profit organization that empowers and supports Aboriginal women and their families (Ontario Native Women’s Association, 2017). ONWA is committed to being the voice of Aboriginal women in Ontario and to building relationships with all levels of government and organizations to ensure all Aboriginal women and their families will live free from social and economic distress and to promote their roles as valued and respected members in the community (Ontario Native Women’s Association, 2017). ONWA delivers culturally enriched programs and services to Aboriginal women and their families regardless of their status. ONWA as an organization is a provincial network of Aboriginal women governed by a Board of Directors all working together to achieve equality and justice for Aboriginal women, their families and communities (Ontario Native Women’s Association, 2017).

The Mandate of the Ontario Native Women’s Association is to address violence against Aboriginal women and empower and support them through advocacy, policy development and programs that focus on local, regional and provincial activities (Ontario Native Women’s Association, 2017). In Canada, Indigenous women and girls are vastly and disturbingly over-represented in all human trafficking and thus increased attention must be paid to the issue.The Ontario Native Women’s Association, will launch a Human Trafficking Response Team to respond to women at risk of, or leaving, a trafficking situation (Ontario Native Women’s Association, 2017). ONWA has developed a culture based gender analysis tool, this tool, along with ONWA’s work in prevention of violence against Indigenous women and girls, will be instrumental in developing a culture based gender analysis on the issue.

For Indigenous women and girls, sex trafficking is an issue of health and overall wellness. In order for the problem to be addressed, root causes and culture based solutions require more research and policy development (Ontario Native Women’s Association, 2017). The end result of a network of research and policy development must result in enhanced choice and expanded socio-economic outcomes for Indigenous women and girls (Ontario Native Women’s Association, 2017). Ending trafficking is essential to the overall eradication of violence against Indigenous women and girls. This will require a preventative approach as well as services for those recovering from trafficking.

 The government is active in the area of human trafficking, and have, and are prescribing methods in order to protect those susceptible to human trafficking, and punish those responsible for organization, recruitment and selling of individuals. Human Trafficking is an important issue to discuss. Although Canada is a developed nation, this crime is still prevalent in Canadian society, and harms thousands across the country. In order to take affirmative action against human trafficking, it must be talked about, and brought forward to individuals such as the government, who can implement effective change. By the government enforcing laws and passing bills, organizing action plans, and administrating support programs, it protects the rights of the individuals, ensures their safety, and works towards creating a peaceful society.



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