Ontario Ramps Up Efforts to Stem Human Trafficking
Thunder Bay Seen as a “Hub” of Human Trafficking
THUNDER BAY – Ontario is taking steps to stem human trafficking in the province. Ontario has identified six places in the province which are described as “hubs of human trafficking”. These “hubs” include Thunder Bay, the Greater Toronto Area, the Golden Horseshoe area, Ottawa, Windsor, and London.
Ontario recently hired six new youth transition workers. One of those new positions is for a worker here in Thunder Bay.
Often the issues with human trafficking start with young people lured into the sex trade. In Thunder Bay there are young girls, often as young as twelve to thirteen years of age engaged in the sex trade. The lurid world these youth fall into often includes addiction, either to drugs or alcohol (or both) as well as physical or mental abuse.
“It is an urgent government priority to support projects designed by Indigenous communities for Indigenous human trafficking survivors, many of whom are women and girls. This funding will enhance access to services that address the complexity of survivors’ needs, and reinforce the traditions and cultures that are vital to helping survivors rebuild their lives,” states Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of the Status of Women.
As part of Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking, Ontario has announced a call for applications for the new Indigenous-Led Initiatives Fund that will increase supports and protection for Indigenous survivors, as well as those at risk of human trafficking.
Canada lags behind other jurisdictions, including the United States where it is required for each state to have in place plans and programs to combat domestic trafficking. Ontario, putting this plan into place joins Manitoba and British Columbia, while other provinces as of yet do not have plans in place.
“Our government’s support for community-based solutions to human trafficking is an important part of our work with Indigenous partners and communities to support survivors, end human trafficking and advance reconciliation. The Indigenous-Led Initiatives Fund is one of the ways we are helping Indigenous organizations deliver supports to survivors and those most at risk in their communities,” states David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
The Indigenous-Led Initiatives Fund will support community-focused anti-human trafficking services and supports designed for, and by, Indigenous people. The three-year fund will enhance services across Ontario, including:
- Meeting the complex needs of survivors by increasing access to services dedicated to helping those who have experienced the trauma of being trafficked, especially in urban, rural/remote, fly-in and Northern Indigenous communities
- Helping to prevent at-risk people from being trafficked with new innovative community initiatives and long term strategies
- Meaningfully engaging Indigenous survivors in the planning and implementation of supports
- Strengthening system coordination for survivor-centered services across sectors.
This call for applications follows consultations with 50 Indigenous organizations, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, to seek input and advice on how the Fund could support Indigenous survivors, their families and communities.
Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking is a part of the government’s vision to ensure that everyone in the province can live in safety — free from the threat, fear or experience of exploitation and violence.
Quick Facts on Human Trafficking in Ontario
- The Indigenous-Led Initiatives Fund will provide up to $9.6 million over three years.
- Applications must be submitted by June 8, 2017, and successful applicants will be informed by early July.
- Individual grant sizes will depend on the type of project. Projects can be funded for a possible duration of up to three years to provide enough time for programs/services to demonstrate results.
- The Strategy to End Human Trafficking includes an investment of up to $72 million to increase awareness and coordination, enhance justice-sector initiatives and improve survivors’ access to services.
- Ontario is a major centre for human trafficking in Canada, accounting for roughly 69 per cent of police-reported cases nationally in 2015.
- In Ontario, Indigenous women and girls are among the most targeted populations for human trafficking.
- Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking and Progress Report
- Progress Report on It’s Never Okay, An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment
- Walking Together: Ontario’s Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women
In Thunder Bay if you have concerns on issues with Human Trafficking:
Criminal Investigation Branch Outreach and Engagement Worker
Youth Investigations Thunder Bay and Area Victim Services
(807) 684-1200 ext. 3709 (807) 684-1051
“Our government is committed to being responsive to the needs of Indigenous survivors, and communities affected by human trafficking. The design of the Indigenous-Led Initiatives Fund is respectful of both tradition and culture while reflecting the contemporary realities of Indigenous peoples and their communities,” says Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services.