National Forum on Human Trafficking - Summary Report, 2014

National Forum on Human Trafficking - Summary Report, 2014 PDF Version (1.72 MB)
Table of contents


About Human Trafficking

Human trafficking or trafficking in persons is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, often described as a modern day form of slavery. Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation, harbouring and/or exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of a person in order to exploit that person. The victims, who are mostly women and children, are deprived of their normal lives and exploited through a variety of coercive practices all for the direct profit of their perpetrators. Traffickers control their victims in various ways such as taking away their identity documents and passports, sexual abuse, threats (to victims and their families), intimidation, physical violence, and isolation.

Human trafficking is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The extent of human trafficking, either in Canada and internationally, is difficult to assess due to the hidden nature of the crime, the reluctance of victims and witnesses to come forward to law enforcement and the difficulty of identifying victims. In Canada, while the majority of identified victims are female Canadians trafficked for sexual exploitation, cases of human trafficking for forced labour, which generally involve foreign nationals, are now being identified. Those who are likely to be at-risk include persons who are socially or economically disadvantaged, such as some Aboriginal women, youth and children, migrants and new immigrants, teenaged runaways, children who are in protection, as well as girls and women, who may be lured to large urban centres or who move or migrate there voluntarilyFootnote 1.

About the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking

In June 2012, the Government of Canada launched the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking (National Action Plan), which consolidates ongoing efforts of the federal government to combat human trafficking and introduces aggressive new initiatives to prevent this crime, identify victims, protect the most vulnerable, and prosecute perpetrators. The National Action Plan aims to better support organizations providing assistance to victims and it builds on the federal government's current responses and commitment to work together with partners to prevent and combat this disturbing crime. Public Safety Canada (PS) leads the Human Trafficking Taskforce, comprised of key departments, and 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.

In December 2013, the Government of Canada released the 2012-2013 Annual Report on Progress stemming from the National Action Plan. The Annual Report speaks to the progress the Government has made in all four pillars of its approach: prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships.


Public Safety Canada (PS) would like to take this opportunity to thank the individuals and organizations who participated in the two-day National Forum on Human Trafficking and for their dedication to the fight against this illegal activity both within Canada and abroad. The collaboration, partnerships, and awareness resulting from the National Forum complement commitments under the National Action Plan to continue a movement forward in combating human trafficking. The information and recommendations flowing from the discussions which took place at the National Forum will be used to inform federal priorities as the Government seeks to build on current efforts to take action against human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labour.


Human trafficking is a horrific crime that robs its victims of their most basic human rights. The Government recognizes that human trafficking is a lucrative criminal activity that generates billions of dollars annually for syndicated criminal organizations, and affects virtually every country, including Canada. Tragically, the perpetrators of this crime prey on the most vulnerable in society, especially women and children.

On June 6, 2012, the federal government launched the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, herein referred to as the “National Action Plan”, which outlines federal anti-human trafficking efforts under the '4 Ps' - prevention of the crime, protecting its victims, prosecuting offenders and building partnerships, both at home and abroad. In December 2013, the Government of Canada released the 2012-2013 Annual Report on Progress stemming from the National Action Plan, which speaks to the progress the Government has made under all four pillars of the approachFootnote 2.

The Government recognizes that the key to the long term success of the National Action Plan is communication and engagement with stakeholders and experts in Canada who play a unique and integral role in preventing and combatting this crime. Hence, as part of the National Action Plan, PS committed to engaging in various ways with stakeholders and experts from across Canada to learn more about the human trafficking situation across the country and identify current opportunities for action and collaboration moving forward.

To this end, in fall 2012, PS conducted an online consultation with stakeholders. The findings from this online consultation were then used to inform a series of five regional roundtables across Canada in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Edmonton, followed by an in-person meeting with stakeholders and individuals in a small fly-in community located in southern Nunavut. These consultations provided an opportunity to engage with organizations and individuals working in the area of human trafficking and to gather information on national and regional human trafficking trends, anti-trafficking efforts and initiatives, challenges, and gaps, as well as, priority issues and areas requiring more focus. The 2012-2013 Human Trafficking Stakeholder Consultations National Summary ReportFootnote 3 summarizes the national and regional themes and key findings resulting from these consultations.

Building on this momentum, PS hosted a National Forum on Human Trafficking (National Forum), which was held on January 29-30, 2014 in Ottawa, Ontario. The National Forum sought to leverage the current movement in Canada, bringing attention to the trends and gaps raised during the previous consultations in 2012-2013, and building on national efforts to combat this crime. The National Forum provided an opportunity to engage with anti-human trafficking decision-makers in Canada in order to take national actions to prevent and combat human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labour.

The two-day National Forum brought together over one hundred key stakeholders and decision-makers from various sectors across the country. These stakeholders included survivors, law enforcement, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), service providers, Aboriginal community leaders, youth, health care providers, private industry, researchers and all three levels of government, who are engaged in the fight against human trafficking. Also in attendance was the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, who opened the event, and Member of Parliament for Kildonan - St. Paul, Joy Smith. Through six thematic panels, presenters of the National Forum spoke about human trafficking in Canada and abroad, including through specific focus on 'at-risk' populations, law enforcement partnerships, and promising practices in combatting human trafficking (i.e., current prevention and awareness initiatives, as well as integrated approaches and industry practices). Following the panel presentations, through thematic break-out discussions, participants engaged in conversations speaking to the depth and complexity of human trafficking and were given an opportunity to identify areas of focus where continued action is required in order to inform further efforts under the National Action Plan.

This report summarizes the themes, key findings, and recommendations resulting from the January 2014 National Forum on Human TraffickingFootnote 4. Information gathered from the discussions which took place during the National Forum will be used to help inform future federal anti-human trafficking priorities and policies.

National Forum on Human Trafficking Panel Presentations: Summary and Key Messages

A day and a half of the National Forum was dedicated to panel presentations, during which participants engaged in a series of discussions through six themed panels: human trafficking in Canada; addressing 'at-risk' populations; law enforcement efforts and partnerships; promising practices in combatting human trafficking; addressing demand through prevention; and, integrated approaches and industry practices. The Agenda for the full two-day event is included in Appendix AFootnote 5. The following section provides an overview of the efforts and initiatives highlighted during the panel presentations.

Efforts and Initiatives

Since the release of the National Action Plan, the federal government has taken significant action to combat human trafficking, with specific attention given to identifying the human trafficking situation in Canada. The Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently completed a National Assessment on Domestic Human Trafficking for sexual exploitation, which provides an overview of the traffickers, victims, vulnerable groups, modi operandi, gaps/challenges, and strategic considerationsFootnote 6.

An overview of the human trafficking situation in Canada both for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour was also highlighted during the National Forum. The Canadian Women's Foundation (CWF) National Task Force on the Trafficking of Women and Girls in CanadaFootnote 7, which was established in January 2013, has engaged in cross-Canada consultations, commissioned research, and has awarded $827,932 in grants. Flowing from this work, the CWF anticipates releasing its anti-human trafficking recommendations in fall 2014. Labour exploitation issues in Canada, including a look into the international aspects of labour trafficking, has been a large focus of the FCJ Refugee CentreFootnote 8, which provides direct services to trafficked persons and provides training for service providers and other front-line workers.

A compelling panel spoke to addressing 'at-risk' populations through the lens of survivors and service providers. The Windsor Essex Anti-Human Trafficking Action Group (WEFiGHT) provides services which address the risks of human trafficking for foreign nationals and temporary foreign workers. The services provided by WEFiGHT were instrumental in the healing process of Tamas Miko, a remarkable young man who shared his story as a survivor of human trafficking for the purpose of forced labour. Speaking to the vulnerabilities of women in Canada's north, the report 'Service and Capacity Review for Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking in Nunavut', provides a look into human trafficking knowledge, victim services best practices, scenarios and risk factors through the lens of northern and urban information and experiencesFootnote 9. Beginning in January 2014, through a 5 year strategic plan, a 24/7 drop in centre is being implemented in Heart Medicine, Manitoba, which is designed to be a 24 hour central hub for sexually exploited and trafficked youth and adults 16+Footnote 10.

Many innovative and promising law enforcement efforts and partnerships were brought to light during the National Forum. For instance:

While many of the initiatives addressed in several of the panels are considered promising practices, the following organizations/partnerships have been instrumental in the fight to combat human trafficking:

Similarly, the following initiatives/projects highlight the great work of organizations in preventing human trafficking through targeted awareness raising activities:

Integrated approaches and industry practices in combating human trafficking have recently come to light and serve as models of best practices. California has enacted the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, which allows consumers to make informed choices and motivate businesses to ensure humane practices through the supply chain. The collaborative and proactive service provision and health care efforts of the Surrey Mobile Crisis CentreFootnote 23 highlights the only 24-hour emergency mobile response serving the Fraser Valley in BC, for women and girls who require emergency medical care for physical injuries and emotional trauma resulting from physical or sexual assault. The work of d3H Hotels and Microsoft highlight the role the private sector can take in supporting the fight against trafficking. d3H Hotels has developed unique training sessions for hotel staff on how to respond to suspected incidents of sex trafficking and on the introduction of new policies and procedures concerning human trafficking within hotels. Specifically, MicrosoftFootnote 24 has developed an e-learning tool which can help identify the potential risks of human trafficking in a business and point out the ways in which a business can responsibly address human trafficking within its own operations and supply chains.

Break-Out Discussion Themes: Key Findings and Proposed Recommendations

On the afternoon of day two, participants of the National Forum engaged in break-out discussions on several themes, during which stakeholders identified and discussed the current situation, challenges and gaps, and opportunities for action moving forward, including recommendations and/or next steps. A summary of key findings and proposed recommendations resulting from each break-out discussion is provided below.

Addressing Demand

Stakeholders expressed concern regarding the issue of demand and its role in promoting human trafficking for both sexual exploitation and forced labour. With respect to demand which fosters sexual exploitation, stakeholders identified that there is a cultural tendency to normalize the nature of demand, for instance, as it may be portrayed within media. In addition, given the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in Bedford, concern was also raised regarding a general lack of standardized legal protocol amongst law enforcement in addressing prostitution.

While there is work already being done to target demand, including awareness campaigns (“Buying Sex is Not a Sport” and “Fight the New Drug” youth campaign addressing pornography) and proactive investigations by police forces (i.e., York, Peel, Durham), there is a need for general awareness around the issue of demand. Stakeholders identified the need for increased public education and awareness in order to promote a shift in societal attitudes concerning the dangers of demand which foster situations of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Specifically, general consensus was expressed regarding the need to educate children and youth on the demand for sexual exploitation before it becomes a problem. This could be done, for example, through mandatory education in schools with inclusion of topics such as sex education, gender equality, and healthy body images in existing school curricula. Another opportunity for action focused on the crucial role that men play in ending demand, in that men teaching young boys about sexual exploitation could have a profound impact on preventing sexual exploitation at a young age.

The Role of Organized Crime

A recurring theme identified during this session focused on the absence of human trafficking from organized crime research and discussions in Canada, thereby creating a need for a better understanding of human trafficking as an organized crime activity, particularly amongst law enforcement. Further conversations should consider the role of organized crime trends and priorities on human trafficking in Canada as priorities may differ across regions. Stakeholders recommended utilizing existing law enforcement forums, such as the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and/or the Canadian Police Association, to highlight the importance of human trafficking within the scope of organized crime.

Stakeholders also highlighted a need for more intelligence and data collection, including 'hard numbers', on human trafficking. This would require an assessment of the data collection requirements and an identification of options across jurisdictions for information sharing. Additionally, stakeholders recommended exploring the possibility of creating law enforcement taskforces at the provincial level to address human trafficking specifically.

Industries and Supply Chains

Stakeholders identified a need to raise awareness amongst public and private industries/business, which may also include a review of regulations/policies related to supply chain management and procurement. Corporate social responsibility programs may already exist in the code of conducts of some businesses which may address the risks posed by poor working conditions in supply chains. The hospitality and tourism industries were mentioned as sites of concern given the demand for cheap labour in these sectors and the lack of awareness around the relationship between human trafficking and these 'at-risk' industries.

Several proposed recommendations were identified including: developing options for human trafficking-free procurement within public/private sectors; engaging businesses to practice and promote production and services free from human trafficking; and promoting consumer awareness of supply chains through ethical buying practices (i.e., garment and coffee industries).

Law Enforcement Partnerships

The discussion centered on exploring the possibility of developing a national task force to standardize messaging to the public, intelligence gathering, police responses, inter-jurisdictional issues, and related challenges, which could be used by law enforcement across Canada, NGOs, all levels of governments, and others engaged in human trafficking work. Recommendations included better integration of the work done by all levels of law enforcement on human trafficking, including encouraging law enforcement to use financial intelligence to enhance human trafficking investigations.

In addition, training for law enforcement was identified as an ongoing need, with consideration for creating a multi-level and multi-sectoral training tool (i.e., adapting existing training tools for use by law enforcement, NGOs, hospitality and private industry). The issue of victim management amongst law enforcement, including knowledge of when and where to refer human trafficking victims continues to be a challenge. For instance, stakeholders expressed concern that police referrals may not lead to human trafficking-specific NGO aftercare (i.e., Servants Anonymous Society in Alberta and Deborah's Gate in British Columbia).

Forced Labour

The discussion around human trafficking for the purpose of forced labour focussed on the need for proactive enforcement models as opposed to complaint-based investigations. Concern was raised with respect to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program posing significant challenges within the context of forced labour, particularly as workers may face increased vulnerabilities leading to higher risks of exploitation (including live-in caregiver situations). Stakeholders also expressed a need to review the temporary residence permit process in order to make it more accessible to those who may be exposed to situations of forced labour.

In responding to these concerns, there was general consensus that increased awareness, education, and training is needed specifically on human trafficking for the purpose of forced labour amongst the general public, as well as service providers, law enforcement, and all levels of government. Stakeholders proposed introducing proactive employer compliance investigations, as well as linking work permits to specific sectors rather than a specific employer, which may mitigate the risks of exploitation for workers.


Stakeholders identified the need for continued research and data collection on the scope and extent of human trafficking in order to produce 'hard numbers'. The lack of research on this issue remains a challenge to assisting victims given that research/data helps inform the adequate provision of services. Other identified challenges included the lack of common definitions across sectors and lack of information sharing. Given the lack of availability and limited funding, funders need to consider their approach to funding research initiatives (i.e., multi-year funding ventures) as immediate outcomes are not realistic.

Stakeholders expressed a desire for collaboration amongst government, law enforcement and service providers in order to introduce standardized data collection mechanisms for use by police and front line service providers. An annual analysis and report feeding from these standardized data collection mechanisms would be useful and could be disseminated to the public.

Women in the Sex Trade

Given the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Bedford, stakeholders highlighted the links between human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and prostitution. The discussion also focused on the importance of building trusting relationships between victims and law enforcement and the continuum of support required for victims, including support for women in the sex trade. Stakeholders stressed the barriers faced by vulnerable women and the understanding that services/support may need to be tailored to the specific needs of these women.

Stakeholders recommended that the federal government support and coordinate with provinces/territories and municipalities to develop and implement effective policies and bylaws to assist women in the sex trade (i.e., such as within strip clubs and massage parlours). Focus was given to federal coordination with municipalities to raise awareness and share best practices with other municipalities across the country. Stakeholders also expressed a need for comprehensive, long term, wrap around supports to help victims of sexual exploitation exit out of the sex trade.

Specialized Services for Victims

Stakeholders continue to highlight the need for long term funding support toward services for victims of human trafficking as well as enhanced coordination between service providers (i.e., support for seamless services/intensive case management). The discussion also highlighted the need for collaboration and coordination between all levels of government, the private sector, and NGOs to ensure non-duplication of work and effective use of available funding.

Stakeholders' recommendations included increased partnerships to access limited funding, victim-centered case management, collaboration and coordination of services to support non-duplication of work, the development of a mechanism for funders to assess what has already been funded, and engaging the private sector so it can see its role in providing possible funding mechanisms and/or victim care.

Vulnerable Communities

During this session, stakeholders discussed the increased vulnerabilities facing newcomer, refugee, Aboriginal, and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender youth, as well as newcomer and immigrant men, who are at increased risk to situations of forced labour, and women, who are most vulnerable to situations of sexual exploitation. Stakeholders stressed the importance of examining the full continuum of human trafficking, including the factors that may lead to situations of exploitation and responding to the vulnerabilities/risk factors leading to victimization. This may include expanding the network of intervention points to understand contributions from other sectors (i.e., health and hospitality). Overall, there is a general need for more services targeted to those most vulnerable to situations of human trafficking.

Recommendations included identifying and assessing the places and populations most a risk/with increased vulnerabilities, in order to develop targeted response strategies. In addition, it was recommended that addressing vulnerable communities may require identifying existing services (outside of specialized human trafficking services) to determine whether they can be leveraged to fill in gaps.

Youth at Risk/the Voice of Aboriginal YouthFootnote 25

Stakeholders highlighted the need to better identify and reach at risk and vulnerable youth.

There is a need for an integrated/informal team approach and case assessment teams (similar to those previously used in situations of domestic violence), which will also facilitate information sharing. Recommendations included the importance of sharing best practices of those services/organizations that are working well (i.e., Children of the Street SocietyFootnote 26, Street ReachFootnote 27, Footbeats, and integrated partnerships between ministries and police to identify youth at risk).

Stakeholders recommended developing an approach to address effective prevention and responses to human trafficking and related exploitation of Aboriginal women/children/youth.

Stakeholders also expressed a need to increase awareness amongst Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations alike of the issues facing Aboriginal youth. Awareness is an essential component to building relationships between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people (i.e., support for public education campaigns on the realities of the residential school history, with a focus on truth telling and 'real reconciliation'). A key opportunity for action included support for Aboriginal youth driven initiatives, which would facilitate youth empowerment and promote individual respect and identity. The importance of Aboriginal self-awareness was also highlighted as an area of exploration, particularly with respect to understanding and sharing 'CULTURE' within communities (communication, understanding, love, trust, unity, respect, equality).

Moving Forward

Moving forward, the Government will use the key findings and recommendations from the National Forum on Human Trafficking, together with the findings from last year's stakeholder consultations, to inform the development of future anti-human trafficking priorities that fall under federal jurisdiction, including those identified under the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. These future actions and priorities will be included in the National Action Plan annual report on progress for 2013-2014.

A few key actions identified for the Government of Canada and, more specifically, PS included: providing resources to assist in the replication of promising models (i.e., partnership between York Regional Police and the Children's Aid Society of York Region); engage in a youth model and lead youth-driven initiatives; organize a national conversation on human trafficking for the purpose of forced labour; facilitate information sharing between municipalities across Canada; address human trafficking in supply chains in federal government procurement; and engaging with stakeholders on a regular basis to continue the important discussion around combatting human trafficking.

The Government of Canada is committed to addressing human trafficking as we know it now and as it evolves. In order to do so, and in recognition of the important work that is being done by organizations and individuals across the country, the government, through the Human Trafficking Taskforce, will continue to engage with stakeholders and experts working on the ground via a variety of means to identify new and emerging trends, challenges and gaps, as well as priority areas of focus.

Annex A - National Forum on Human Trafficking Agenda

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - Thursday, January 30, 2014

Residence Inn by Marriott Ottawa Downtown, Ontario


Day 1: Wednesday, January 29, 2014


8:15-8:45 Meet and Greet with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada

8:45-8:50 Introduction

8:50-9:00 Opening Remarks

9:00-9:05 Welcome To the National Forum on Human Trafficking

9:05-9:15 Overview of Approach and Agenda

9:15-10:20 PANEL 1: Human Trafficking in Canada

Overview of Canada's human trafficking situation and the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking (NAP)

RCMP Domestic Threat Assessment

Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada 

Internationally Trafficked Persons: Challenges and Solutions

10:20 - 10:35 Facilitated Q & A


10:50 - 11:55 PANEL 2: Addressing 'at-risk' populations through the lens of survivors and service providers

Surviving Human Trafficking: Addressing Risk Factors for Potential Victims

Nunavut: Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking

24/7 Drop in - Winnipeg, Manitoba 

11:55 - 12:10 Facilitated Q & A

12:10 - 1:10 LUNCH AND LEARN

1:10 - 2:10 PANEL 3: Law Enforcement Efforts and Partnerships

A New Collaboration: Building a Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking in York Region

Trafficking in Persons and Cyber Investigations

City of Toronto: Initiatives to Address Human Trafficking

2:10 - 2:25 Facilitated Q & A

2:40 - 4:00 PANEL 4: Promising Practices in Combatting Human Trafficking

Partnerships in Action: Collaborating with Service Providers and Law Enforcement

Community Based Responses to Human Trafficking in Alberta

Responding to Human Trafficking: Creation of the Coalition québécoise contre la traite de personnes and coordination

BC's Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (OCTIP)

4:00 - 4:15 Facilitated Q & A

4:15 - 4:30 Wrap up and close of day remarks


Day 2: Thursday, January 30, 2014


8:20-8:35 Re-cap and Introduction to Day 2

8:35-9:45 PANEL 5: Addressing Demand though Prevention

Human Trafficking National Aboriginal Awareness Campaign

Targeted Awareness - TruckSTOP Campaign

STOP Trafficking - Sex Trafficking and Demand

Get Plugged In: Understanding the Culture Around Us and Reinventing It: Engaging Youth

9:45-10:00 Facilitated Q & A


10:15-11:35 PANEL 6: Integrated Approaches and Industry Practices

California Transparency in Supply Chains Act

Bureau of Investigation, Los Angeles County

It's smart to help someone

Sex Trafficking Prevention: Awareness and Prevention Training in the
Hospitality Industry

Microsoft's Activities to Combat Human Trafficking 

11:35 - 11:50 Facilitated Q & A

11:50 - 12:00 Introduction to Break-out Discussions, Facilitator

12:00 - 1:00 LUNCH

1:00 - 2:30 Break-out Discussions


2:45 - 4:15 Facilitated Discussion - Moving Forward: Strategies and recommended actions, Facilitator

4:15-4:30 Summary and closing remarks


  1. 1

  2. 2

    Public Safety Human Trafficking Webpage:

  3. 3

    2012-2013 Human Trafficking Stakeholder Consultations National Summary Report:

  4. 4

    Note that the views expressed herein are those raised by the participants and do not necessarily reflect those of Public Safety Canada and/or the participating organizations.

  5. 5

    Those PowerPoint Presentations for which permission was granted to share have been posted to the Human Trafficking SharePoint Site. To receive access to the Human Trafficking SharePoint Site, please request a user name and password via

  6. 6

    RCMP Domestic Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation in Canada, Executive Summary:

  7. 7

    Canadian Women's Foundation, End human trafficking:

  8. 8

    FCJ Refugee Centre:

  9. 9

    Helen Roos of Roos Remillard Consulting, Report:

  10. 10

    Ndinawe Safe House:

  11. 11

    CTV News, 'Project Ariel' seeks to curb teen sex-trade through outreach, education:

  12. 12

  13. 13

  14. 14

  15. 15

    City of Toronto Initiatives to Address Human Trafficking:

  16. 16

    Walk with Me Canada:

  17. 17

    ACT Alberta:

  18. 18

  19. 19

  20. 20

  21. 21

  22. 22

  23. 23

  24. 24

  25. 25

    Those who participated in this session had the opportunity to engage with an Aboriginal youth member who provided a voice of Aboriginal youth.

  26. 26

  27. 27

Date modified: