National Strategy To Combat Human Trafficking 2019-2024
- Message From The Minister Of Public Safety And Emergency Preparedness
- A New Whole-of-Government Strategy
- Government of Canada’s Enhanced Approach
- The Way Forward
- Appendix A: Human Trafficking in Canada
- Appendix B: Canada on the World Stage
- Appendix C: Challenges & Emerging Trends
Message From The Minister Of Public Safety And Emergency Preparedness
As the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and on behalf of partners across the federal government, I am pleased to present the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking (National Strategy). This five-year National Strategy will strengthen Canada’s response to human trafficking and support broader Government of Canada commitments, including preventing and addressing gender-based violence, and supporting the safety and security of Indigenous peoples.
The new whole-of-government National Strategy builds on Canada’s existing federal efforts by introducing a new focus area, “empowerment” to enhance support and services to victims and survivors of human trafficking, helping them regain control and independence. Additionally, the Strategy includes measures aligned with the internationally recognized pillars of prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership. These include measures to: increase public awareness, education, and capacity-building to prevent the victimization of vulnerable and marginalized populations; strengthen the ability to identify and protect victims of human trafficking; improve criminal justice system experiences for victims and survivors; and improve domestic and international partnerships to bolster our collective response.
Together, these measures respond to what I have heard first hand from victims and survivors of human trafficking and those that provide support services.
The National Strategy continues Canada’s strong commitment to countering human trafficking. As one of the first countries to ratify the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, in 2002, Canada has been at the forefront of taking action to address human trafficking both domestically and abroad. To this end, the Government of Canada has already taken significant steps to address this abhorrent crime, including providing contribution funding to external organizations that are best placed to respond to the critical needs of victims and survivors of this crime; raising awareness through targeted campaigns, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP) I’m not for sale initiative; and supporting amendments to the Criminal Code to facilitate proving human trafficking-related offences and the seizure of human trafficking-related proceeds of crime. The Government has also coordinated with international partners to better prevent and counter this crime. Most recently, the Government has invested in the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline, which launched on May 29, 2019, to make it easier for victims and survivors to access the services and supports they need.
The Government of Canada’s commitment to combatting human trafficking has not faltered and remains clear. The National Strategy will help protect individuals from all forms of human trafficking and introduce a more balanced, holistic and victim-centered approach.
The Honourable Ralph Goodale, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
A New Whole-of-Government Strategy
Taking a whole-of-government approach – Federal anti-human trafficking efforts are being undertaken by numerous federal departments and agencies, in order to address this crime from various angles.
Public Safety Canada, as Canada’s policy lead on anti-human trafficking efforts, is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the National Strategy in partnership and coordination with other federal partners.
Human trafficking, also referred to as trafficking in persons, involves the recruitment, transportation or harbouring of persons for the purpose of exploitation, generally for sexual exploitation or forced labour. It is a complex, far-reaching and highly-gendered crime, one which disproportionately affects women and girls. Human traffickers exploit human vulnerabilities created by poverty, sexism, racism, wage inequality, and a lack of education, social supports, and employment opportunities.
Canada’s approach to human trafficking has been guided by the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementing Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and ChildrenFootnote1, and has been organized around four broad pillars (4Ps): the prevention of trafficking; the protection of victims; the prosecution of offenders; and working in partnership with others.
Building on current government efforts and listening to those most affected by this crime, Canada’s new five-year National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking (National Strategy)will help better protect Canada and individuals from all forms of human trafficking and the harms associated with the crime. It will protect both domestic and foreign victims of this crime, both here in Canada and internationally. The National Strategy is supported by an investment of $75 million over six years that includes a 2018 investment of $14.51 million for the new Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline, with $2.89 million ongoing, as well as a new 2019 investment of $57.22 million over five years and $10.28 million ongoing to implement an enhanced suite of initiatives that will strengthen Canada’s response and fill critical gaps.
As a whole-of-government approach, the National Strategy sets out a comprehensive way forward to address human trafficking. It will bring together all federal efforts that aim to address human trafficking in Canada and abroad under one strategic plan. It will frame federal activities under the internationally recognized pillars of prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships and will add a new pillar of “empowerment”. Canada has added this new focus area to enhance supports and services to victims affected by this crime.
With the addition of the new empowerment pillar, the National Strategy will enhance, consolidate, and coordinate Canada’s actions and initiatives to combat human trafficking domestically and internationally through a victim-centered, survivor-informed and gender-responsive lens.
Testimony from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has highlighted that human trafficking is strongly linked to the disproportionately high rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls and that the extent of human trafficking and victimization of Indigenous women is grossly under-reported.
On June 3, 2019, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its Final Report “Reclaiming Power and Place”. It includes Calls for Justice related to sexual exploitation and human trafficking, such as support for Indigenous-led prevention and community awareness initiatives; training for transportation and hospitality service providers to help identify; and fund and support programs for Inuit children and youth to teach them how to respond to threats and identify exploitation.
For more information about the Final Report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls please visit: https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/
The National Strategy will enhance efforts in a number of priority areas, such as the need for increased supports and services to protect and rehabilitate victims and survivors and the promotion of culturally-sensitive approaches, such as tailored services for Indigenous victims’ needs. It will aim to increase awareness of human trafficking so that Canadians can better understand the signs of this crime that can occur in their communities and improve the ability of government officials and front-line staff in key sectors to identify, detect and protect victims and survivors. In other areas, it will: increase intelligence and data collection capacity; support law enforcement and the criminal justice system; enhance federal procurement practices; and strengthen partnerships across all levels of government, civil society organizations, private sector and with international partners.
The National Strategy will also support other Government of Canada priorities and strategies. It will help advance gender equality and benefit marginalized and vulnerable groups, including Indigenous women and girls. As human trafficking is considered one of the worst forms of gender-based violence, the National Strategy will complement It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based ViolenceFootnote2. It will also be responsive to the Calls for Justice in Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, as human trafficking and sexual exploitation have been strongly linked to the disproportionately high rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls.
To support the Government’s efforts to take action on these Calls for Justice, the National Strategy will help advance gender equality and provide support to marginalized and vulnerable groups, including Indigenous women and girls. The National Strategy will: support the development of culturally-relevant support services for Indigenous survivors; develop awareness and training tools for targeted groups in key sectors to help them better identify human trafficking victims; and promote culturally-sensitive training and awareness for law enforcement.
The National Strategy is a flexible framework that guides federal efforts towards combatting human trafficking. In particular, the National Strategy will be adaptable to an environment in which this crime is largely hidden and new trends are emerging.
Government of Canada’s Enhanced Approach
Supporting victims and survivors to regain control and independence and encouraging action by industry partners
Under the empowerment pillar of the National Strategy, the Government will provide victims with tools to regain their independence and dignity. This pillar seeks to empower youth and other vulnerable populations to protect themselves and will test innovative interventions to support survivors. The Government will also encourage industry partners to act ethically by implementing changes in their supply chains to prevent and reduce the risk of forced labour in government procurement supply chains. Building on existing efforts, the Government will continue to provide supports to victims and survivors as well as to organizations working on anti-human trafficking efforts. Canada will work to ensure that the design and delivery of initiatives under this new, innovative pillar incorporates the views of victims and survivors.
Key activities will include:
- Establishing an advisory committee comprised of victims and survivors of human trafficking to provide a platform in which individuals with lived experiences can inform and provide their unique and invaluable recommendations to the Government of Canada on current and future federal anti-human trafficking policies and initiatives.
- Providing increased funding for community-led empowerment programs to help address some of the root causes of human trafficking as well as harms experienced by victims and survivors. Organizations that provide holistic, trauma-informed short-term and long-term services to help survivors regain their independence, reintegrate into their communities, and begin their healing and recovery process would be encouraged to apply.
- Engaging youth through Hackathons in which students, software developers, and socially responsible technology companies will be brought together to develop ideas on how technology, such as blockchain technology, and social media can be used to combat human trafficking. This will also be a venue to teach youth (under the age of 18) about their rights as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Footnote3, as they are one of the primary vulnerable groups at-risk of being trafficked.
- Building a centralized website to consolidate information on human trafficking as well as to promote different federal programs and funding opportunities available to those looking for financial assistance to support their anti-human trafficking initiatives.
- Improving ethical behaviours and preventing human trafficking in federal procurement supply chains. The Government will outline requirements on human and labour rights for suppliers and will work closely with suppliers to develop and implement tools to help ensure compliance in their supply chains. It will also examine long-term approaches to addressing child labour and forced labour in federal procurement supply chains, working with the private sector, civil society, and international partners.
Increasing awareness and building capacity to prevent human trafficking in Canada and abroad
Funded anti-human trafficking initiatives to date include…
In 2015, PACT – Ottawa was funded by Public Safety Canada to increase awareness among youth of human trafficking. In total, the PACT Project Northern Outreach reached 705 Anishinabek community members from North Shore and Manitoulin Island.
Through the prevention pillar of the National Strategy, the Government will seek to increase public awareness of human trafficking, and build capacity in strategic areas to prevent human trafficking from occurring in Canada and internationally. Research capacity will be enhanced to expand the knowledge-base of human trafficking, close data gaps and inform policy and program initiatives over the five-year National Strategy. In addition, the Government will continue its role abroad as a global leader in the fight against this crime and in the protection of human rights, particularly of women and girls. These efforts will build on existing preventive anti-human trafficking efforts undertaken by various federal departments and agencies such as collaboration among RCMP and different levels of law enforcement, non-governmental organizations, and civil society to create awareness at large sporting events; the establishment of new ethical procurement policies; working with key international partners to address human trafficking; and ongoing training to government officials, including border, consular officials and law enforcement.
Key activities will include:
- Launching a national public awareness campaign to educate Canadians of the serious implications of human trafficking and the different types of trafficking.
- Implementing pilot projects for at-risk youth with the aim of addressing the core drivers and risks of human trafficking in vulnerable youth, and for pilot projects that develop best practices to reduce exploitation of youth living in care.
- Enhancing data collection and research to help better understand the nature, prevalence and scope of human trafficking, close data gaps, and help inform policy and programs that help victims and survivors.
- Supporting anti-human trafficking efforts abroad through international assistance, as part of the Feminist International Assistance Policy, to tackle the root causes of gender-based violence, and supporting capacity-building projects in beneficiary states to help prevent and respond to threats posed by international criminal activities. The Government will also continue to conduct outreach to the diplomatic community in Canada, to Canadians travelling abroad, and through the work of Canadian embassies around the world to raise awareness on human trafficking and other transnational crimes.
Addressing gaps in existing supports and providing culturally-informed services
Funded anti-human trafficking initiatives to date include…
The Salvation Army Deborah’s Gate “Living Hope: Life and Living Skills Program for Victims of Human Trafficking” received funding from Public Safety Canada to develop key life and living skills through training and development for victims of human trafficking. Through this funding, support was provided to victims and survivors to attend school, get part-time or full-time employment, access the criminal justice system and legal support, among other short term and long term support. For example, 34 participants received barista employment training.
Canada will continue its efforts under the National Strategy aimed at protecting victims and potential victims from this crime, including supporting organizations that provide critical services to victims and survivors, coordinating Canadian law enforcement outreach operations to proactively identify potential victims of human trafficking, and enhancing the employer compliance regime under the Temporary Foreign Worker program. Building on these efforts, the Government will undertake new initiatives to strengthen the identification and protection of victims and enhance Canada’s ability to detect suspected human trafficking cases more efficiently.
Key activities will include:
- Establishing a national case-management standard for organizations (i.e. community service groups and victim services) with a special focus on vulnerable groups, such as Indigenous women and girls, at-risk youth, and migrants to ensure victims have access to services that address their specific needs and assist them in their recovery and healing.
- Developing multi-sectoral training tools that are culturally relevant and gender-responsive for front-line service providers and targeted groups from a variety of different sectors (i.e., hospitality, transportation) to increase awareness of the indicators and signs of human trafficking and enable employees to effectively identify victims.
- Enhancing capacity under the Victims of Trafficking in Persons program in order to better detect suspected human trafficking cases through the immigration system.
- Assessing existing immigration processes to evaluate the different impacts of gender-based violence throughout the immigration enforcement continuum to ensure that sufficient protection is in place for victims in contact with border officials.
Increasing criminal justice system capacity to identify and prosecute human trafficking cases
While the number of police-reported incidents of human trafficking increases every year, the number of human trafficking related convictions remains relatively low. Actions will be taken to strengthen the knowledge of law enforcement and prosecutors on the scope, scale and sensitivities around human trafficking to better identify cases and enhance consistency in prosecution. New initiatives under the National Strategy will focus on promoting a victim-centric criminal justice system, while building on ongoing efforts to prosecute offenders.
Funded anti-human trafficking initiatives to date include…
Project PROTECT, as the first of its kind in the world, launched in 2016, has garnered significant international interest and is a leading example of how working with the private sector to address human trafficking can be successful. To date, FINTRAC has been able to provide over 500 disclosures of actionable financial intelligence to Canada’s municipal, provincial and federal police forces in support of their human trafficking investigations.
Key activities will include:
- Hosting an international conference to take stock of the progress made since the 2005 enactment of the Criminal Code’s human trafficking offences and to discuss ways to improve Canada’s criminal justice system response to human trafficking cases. This conference will bring together national and international experts from law enforcement, provincial and territorial government officials, academia, front-line workers, as well as Indigenous partners, non-governmental organizations, and survivors of human trafficking.
- Delivering bilingual online training for law enforcement, prosecutors and criminal justice practitioners to provide them with greater awareness of human trafficking and the applicable criminal law framework and human rights approaches to assisting victims.
- Dedicating an expert group of border officials to develop strengthened strategies to combat human trafficking.
- Enhancing Project PROTECT to increase Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada’s (FINTRAC) capacity to produce financial intelligence on money laundering related to human trafficking; increase its domestic and international engagement and education relating to the role of financial intelligence to counter human trafficking; and continue to engage with the private sector to raise awareness of the value and use of financial intelligence in combatting money laundering related to human trafficking.
Building and improving national and international coordination and cooperation to address human trafficking
The protection of victims of human trafficking is a shared responsibility among all levels of government. Provinces and territories provide services such as health and social services, emergency housing, and legal aid to victims and survivors and in some cases have established their own local strategies and action plans to address human trafficking in their jurisdictions. Similarly, civil society and other non-governmental actors play a critical role in Canada’s response to this crime. The National Strategy will seek to complement efforts taken at the local level and will continue to establish and maintain strong partnerships with provinces, territories, Indigenous partners, civil society, and the private sector to ensure a collaborative and coordinated national response. As this crime affects virtually all countries across the world, international cooperation is also key in sharing and implementing best practices and lessons learned.
Key activities will include:
- Appointing a high-profile advisor on human trafficking to provide advice and recommendations to the Government of Canada on anti-human trafficking efforts, raise awareness on the issue both domestically and internationally, and share best practices. The advisor will engage with the advisory committee to further understand the effectiveness of the Government of Canada’s efforts to combat human trafficking.
- Strengthening the international engagement approach to better leverage multilateral and bilateral partnerships in countering this crime. The Government of Canada will also continue to be active in international efforts to end human trafficking through respect for rule of law and existing international protocols, advocacy for human rights and gender mainstreaming, and participation in key international fora driving innovation to address human trafficking.
- Hosting annual stakeholder gatherings and outreach meetings to ensure ongoing outreach, information gathering and sharing best practices continues. This will include engaging the private sector and the non-profit sector to best address emerging trends, such as the increasing use of technology in this crime, and incorporating a results-based focus to report on the progress of initiatives under the National Strategy. This will ensure the prompt identification of emerging trends in human trafficking and an ever-evolving federal approach.
The Way Forward
The National Strategy sets out Canada’s enhanced approach to counter human trafficking that is guided by a framework of empowerment, prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership-based initiatives that are adaptable to address the changing environment in which this crime occurs.
The National Strategy will provide enhanced support services to victims and survivors that are trauma-informed and culturally relevant and address some of the root causes of exploitation, such as poverty, sexism and racism, and lack of education and employment opportunities. It aims to raise awareness of what human trafficking is among Canadians, at-risk and vulnerable populations and front-line staff in key industry sectors so they are better positioned to help prevent it. It also aims to promote a victim-centered criminal justice system.
Finally, the National Strategy recognizes that human trafficking is a complex problem that can affect anyone, takes place both in Canada and abroad, and requires action from multiple actors, including the Government of Canada, provinces and territories, civil society and the private sector. The National Strategy, as an instrument for ongoing dialogue with Canadians and domestic and international stakeholders, will ensure that collective efforts to combat human trafficking are responsive and coordinated. At its core, the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking will help protect vulnerable individuals from being trafficked, empower survivors, bring perpetrators to justice, and safeguard our communities.
Appendix A: Human Trafficking in Canada
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking, also referred to as trafficking in persons, involves recruiting, transporting, transferring, receiving, holding, concealing, harbouring, or exercising control, direction or influence over that person, for the purpose of exploitation, generally for sexual exploitation or forced labour.
Human trafficking occurs domestically and internationally:
- Domestic trafficking occurs when the entirety of the crime occurs within a country's borders, and no international boundary is crossed. However, it is important to note that victims do not need to be moved from one location to another to be “trafficked”.
- International trafficking occurs when a trafficker transports the citizen of one country into another country for the purpose of exploitation.
Not to be confused with migrant smuggling which…
- Always involves a person illegally crossing over an international border.
- Is voluntary – the person involved chooses to be smuggled and has made an agreement with another person or group of people.
- Normally ends when the smuggler gets the smuggled person to their destination.
In some cases, persons who are smuggled become victims of human trafficking upon their arrival at the destination country.
Human trafficking is a complex crime. It is facilitated by many factors, including the vulnerability of particular populations to exploitation, and the demand for low-cost goods and services. While no individual is immune from falling victim to human trafficking, vulnerable populations, such as Indigenous women and girls, are at higher risk. It is a crime that is highly gendered, with root causes of exploitation, including a lack of education, social supports and employment opportunities, compounded by poverty, sexism, racism, and wage inequality.
For its perpetrators, also referred to as traffickers, it can be a low-risk, highly-profitable endeavour believed to be one of the fastest-growing crimes on a global basis, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Traffickers use various methods to lure and groom potential victims. These methods often include intimidation, false work pretenses, or a technique in which the trafficker pretends to be romantically interested in their potential victim. Traffickers maintain control over their victims through the use of force, sexual or physical assault, threats of violence or blackmail, confinement, abuse of power, or preying on their vulnerabilities.
Victims often suffer physical, sexual, financial, emotional and psychological abuse, and often live and work in horrific conditions. Due to the harm and violence inflicted on victims, human trafficking is associated with substantial trauma, and recovery from its impacts can take a lifetime.
Examples of Human Trafficking CasesFootnote4
A 22-year old female entered into a romantic relationship with an individual who would provide drugs to her and her friends. She was transported to an apartment by her alleged boyfriend, locked into the bedroom and forced, by sexual assault and threats, to provide sexual services to men. The victim fell pregnant and was forced to continue working and was given drugs and alcohol to feed her addiction.
Two women in their early 20s and one 15 year old, were befriended by an individual who promised them high earnings and accomodation in luxury condos, in return for providing sexual services in an apartment. The individual began controlling the victims' phones, taking most of their earnings and becoming increasingly violent and abusive. The trafficker had the victims work in various Canadian cities and held one of the victims at gun point as a means to threaten the victim.
An 18-year old female was in a five-year relationship with an individual who frequently assaulted her and controlled her phone. The victim provided sexual services to clients in hotels under her alleged boyfriend's control and handed all of her earnings over to him. The trafficker used threats and fear of possible harm to control the victim.
A minor left a single-parent home due to conflict, stayed with friends until she befriended a young couple and decided to live with them. She was provided with drugs and alcohol and transported to different cities to provide sexual services against her will. The trafficker used physical assault and fear to control the victim.
A 35-year old male foreign national was offered a position in the hospitality sector in Canada, where upon arrival they were forced to work long hours with little to no pay. The trafficker threatened to harm the victim's family in their home country if they attempted to report to authorities.
Prevalence of Human Trafficking in Canada
Assessing the extent of human trafficking in Canada is difficult due to its clandestine nature, and the reluctance of victims and witnesses to come forward to law enforcement, as well as challenges in identifying victims. Most cases of human trafficking are never reported to police due to threats from traffickers, fear, shame, and mistrust of authorities. As such, current available data provides only a partial representation of the scope and scale of human trafficking in Canada.
Human trafficking takes place within and outside of Canada. It is also a global issue that occurs in virtually all countries.
The International Labour Organization estimates that the number of victims of trafficking worldwide varies from 24 to 40 million.
According to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS), which analyzes police-reported incidents of human trafficking in Canada, Ontario accounted for more than two-thirds of reported human trafficking incidents between 2009 and 2016. During the same time period, Quebec accounted for 13% of the total reports of human trafficking, with Alberta and Nova Scotia following with 8% and 6%, respectively (Chart 1).
It is important to note that regional differences in the prevalence of police-reported human trafficking can be influenced by many factors. For example, regions may differ with respect to the presence or absence of training programs or expertise in the detection of human trafficking. Similarly, the presence or absence of local public awareness campaigns, provincial policies and victim assistance programs may impact the willingness of victims to come forward. While incidents of human trafficking in Nova Scotia accounted for 6% of the incidents reported nationally over the eight-year period, the rate reported in the province in 2016 (2.1 per 100,000) was the highest recorded among the provinces and territories. – CCJS
Individuals at greatest risk of victimization in Canada generally include women and girls and members of vulnerable or marginalized groups such as: Indigenous women and girls; migrants and new immigrants; LGBTQ2 persons; persons living with disabilities; children in the child welfare system; at-risk youth; and those who are socially or economically disadvantaged. Migrant workers may be particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse due to many factors, such as language barriers, working in isolated/remote areas, lack of access to services and support, and lack of access to accurate information about their rights.
Chart 1 Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (Trend Database).Footnote5
|Province and territory
|Human trafficking violations
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
According to the CCJS, 95% of identified human trafficking victims between 2009 and 2016 were women and girls. Women between the ages of 18-24 represented 44% of all victims, and 26% of all victims of human trafficking were women under the age of 18 (Chart 2).
Chart 2 Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.Footnote6
|Age group (years)
Less than 18
18 to 24
25 to 34
35 to 44
45 to 54
55 and older
The CCJS noted that in 2017 there were a total of 375 police-reported incidents involving trafficking in persons. During the same period, police reported a total of 291 people accused of trafficking in personsFootnote7.
Human trafficking is a serious crime. Canada’s criminal law prohibits trafficking in persons, regardless of whether the trafficking occurs wholly within Canada or whether it involves the bringing of persons into Canada. The Criminal Code contains six specific human trafficking offences, including trafficking in adults, child trafficking, materially benefitting from human trafficking and withholding or destroying identity documents to facilitate this crime. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act also includes a human trafficking-specific offence. These offences have penalties as high as life imprisonment in certain circumstances.
Six offences in the Criminal Code specifically address human trafficking:
- Trafficking in Persons (section 279.01) which 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;
- Trafficking of a person under the age of eighteen years (section 279.011) 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;
- Receiving a Financial or Other Material Benefit for the purpose of committing or facilitating trafficking in persons -Adult Victim (subsection 279.02(1)) which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment if prosecuted by indictment;
- Receiving a Financial or Other Material Benefit for the purpose of committing or facilitating trafficking in persons -Child Victim (subsection 279.02(2)) which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment and a mandatory minimum penalty of 2 years;
- Withholding or Destroying a Person's Identity Documents (for example, a passport) for the purpose of committing or facilitating trafficking of that person - Adult Victim (subsection 279.03(1)): which carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment if prosecuted by indictment; and,
- Withholding or Destroying a Person's Identity Documents (for example, a passport) for the purpose of committing or facilitating trafficking of that person - Child Victim (subsection 279.03(2)) which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a mandatory minimum penalty of 1 year.
A Specific offence in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act targeting cross-border trafficking:
Section 118 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) prohibits knowingly organizing the coming into Canada of one or more persons by means of abduction, fraud, deception, or use or threat of force or coercion. The offence is punishable by a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1 million. The offence found in the IRPA is limited to transnational cases where a person is brought into Canada from somewhere else. The term "organize" includes recruitment, transportation, and after entry into Canada, receipt and harbouring.
Canada’s Efforts to Date
In 2012, the Government of Canada launched the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking (NAP) that consolidated all federal activities into one comprehensive plan. While the NAP expired in 2016, Canada has continued with significant efforts to prevent human trafficking, support victims and potential victims, and ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.
The Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached at 1-833-900-1010.
For more information about the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline, visit: https://www.canadianhumantraffickinghotline.ca/
Notably, in 2018, the Government of Canada invested $14.51 million over five years and $2.89 million ongoing to put in place the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline, the first of its kind in Canada, to help victims and survivors of human trafficking easily access the services they need. The multilingual, 24/7, toll-free service is receiving tips and referring victims and survivors of all forms of human trafficking, including both sex and labour trafficking, to local law enforcement, emergency shelters, and a range of other trauma-informed services and supports. Data collected through the Hotline will also assist law enforcement in developing better intelligence to target this crime and help Canada identify gaps in services for victims and survivors.
Canada has also continued efforts to coordinate the law enforcement response to human trafficking through the RCMP’s Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre (HTNCC), which is a focal point for policing efforts to combat and disrupt individuals and criminal organizations involved in human trafficking activities. The RCMP’s HTNCC priorities include developing tools, protocols and guidelines to facilitate human trafficking investigations and coordinate national awareness, training and anti-trafficking initiatives. For example, the HTNCC has in place the I’m Not for Sale initiative—a human trafficking awareness campaign which targets youth and informs parents and teachers.
Canada has also continued to provide funding to organizations that deliver critical support services to victims and survivors through multiple federal grant and contribution funding programs. For example, in 2018, the Government increased funding available through the federal Victims Fund for human trafficking-related projects from $500,000 annually to $1 million, beginning in 2019-20. Since the start of the NAP in 2012, over $6.1 million has been allocated to human trafficking projects through the federal Victims Fund. In 2018-2019 alone, a total of 24 projects to address human trafficking were supported through this program. Additionally, through the federal Contribution Program to Combat Serious and Organized Crime, the Government has provided funding to support projects that: aim to increase awareness among youth of how traffickers recruit and groom potential victims; conduct training and awareness on labour exploitation; life skills training to victims; and develop human trafficking survivor housing response models.
Departments and agencies from across the federal government are working together to take action to combat human traffickingFootnote8. This includes: providing training to government officials, including border officials, consulate officials, and law enforcement; launching targeted public awareness campaigns and initiatives to better inform Canadians and those most at-risk of being trafficked of the signs of human trafficking; and providing grants and contributions funding to organizations to help victims and survivors gain access to the support services they need.
Canada has also taken action to better protect temporary foreign workers. Beginning in 2018-19, Canada invested $3.4 million over two years to establish, on a pilot basis, a migrant worker support network for temporary foreign workers dealing with potential mistreatment or abuse. Network members collaborate on key issues facing migrant workers and propose recommendations to better support, protect, and empower migrant workers. In addition, the Federal Government is also providing funding to non-profit organizations to better support migrant workers in understanding and exercising their rights and to support employers in understanding and meeting Program conditions and requirements. Canada has continued to provide support to foreign nationals who may be victims of human trafficking. From January 2016 to December 2018, the Government has issued 146 temporary resident permits to victims of human trafficking and their dependents.
Canada also has continued to work closely with the private sector to strengthen our response to human trafficking. Project PROTECT, first launched in 2016, is a unique public-private sector partnership that targets human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation by focusing on the money laundering aspect of the crime. This innovative initiative has helped to protect some of Canada's most vulnerable citizens and to make the fight against human trafficking in the sex trade a collective priority. To date, FINTRAC has been able to provide over 500 disclosures of actionable financial intelligence to Canada’s municipal, provincial and federal police forces in support of their human trafficking investigations. By following the money, investigators have been able to identify perpetrators and protect their victims. As the first of its kind in the world, Project PROTECT has garnered significant international interest and is a leading example of how working with the private sector to address human trafficking can be successful.
Appendix B: Canada on the World Stage
As a global leader on human rights, particularly for women and girls, Canada’s efforts to address human trafficking have been further reinforced through global commitments. These include the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015 and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in 2018, which both include targets for countering this crime.
During Canada’s 2018 G7 presidency, G7 Security Ministers made several commitments to fight human trafficking. This included working with business and civil society to eliminate trafficking in persons from G7 economies; strengthening procurement practices to eliminate this crime from global supply chains and work to build a culture of consumer awareness; coordinating efforts and sharing best practices to better support survivors and addressing the criminal misuse of the Internet in facilitating this crime; improving information and data-related best practices and lessons learned exchanges; partnering with the private sector and civil society to counter illicit financial flows stemming from trafficking in persons; and exploring the feasibility of a common public messaging campaign. These commitments were echoed as part of Canada’s participation in France’s 2019 G7 presidency.
Also in August 2018, Canada participated in Five Country Ministerial meetings with Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States to discuss steps to address improving intelligence sharing on human trafficking networks and globalized transnational and serious criminal networks. In September 2018, Canada, along with those same partners, launched the Principles to Guide Government Action to Combat Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains, which provide a framework through which all countries can build a strategy to take effective action to prevent and eradicate human trafficking from all supply chains.
A supply chain refers to the network created among different worldwide companies producing, handling, and distributing specific goods and/or products.
Since the tragic event of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, there have been increased global efforts to improve working conditions in supply chains.
The International Labour Organization estimates that there are approximately 152 million child labourers globally, with 73 million children engaged in hazardous work, and 4.3 million in forced labour. It also estimates that there are 25 million victims of forced labour worldwide.
In its response to the report of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, entitled A Call to Action: Ending the Use of All Forms of Child Labour in Supply Chains, the Government took note of the importance of collaborating with businesses, civil society and provincial and territorial governments to eliminate child labour from global supply chains. The Government subsequently initiated consultations in Spring 2019 on possible supply chain legislation.
Canada also has an active role in regional and multilateral forums such as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Regional Conference on Migration, the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, and the G20 and G7, where Canada shares best practices and strategies to combat trafficking in persons and promotes the use of international legal instruments. Through further work internationally, Canada has implemented capacity-building initiatives to support countries that require assistance in their own efforts to fight transnational organized crime, including human trafficking.
The Government supports anti-human trafficking efforts abroad through the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP), which has a mandate to enhance the capacity of beneficiary states to prevent and respond to threats posed by international criminal activity.
For example, in 2018-19, the Government provided $4.31 million over 3 years to support the Cross-border crimes against Women and Girls in the Northern Triangle project, which aims to strengthen the capacity of justice actors working in state institutions specializing in the criminal law enforcement of cross-border crimes, including human trafficking, against women, girls and other vulnerable people.
Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy also supports efforts to prevent and address the high rates of gender and sexual-based violence and harmful practices experienced by women and girls, including human trafficking. Investments in international assistance are key to support developing countries in their efforts to address the root causes of human trafficking and can help strengthen labour laws, public health, education and child protection systems, as well as build the capacity of law enforcement and justice systems to prevent and address all forms of sexual and gender-based violence.
Appendix C: Challenges & Emerging Trends
Through ongoing dialogue and recent consultations with domestic and international stakeholders and partners, the Government of Canada has identified gaps and challenges as well as emerging issues and trends to be addressed through a new whole-of-government approach.
In 2018, Canada heard from a diverse range of stakeholders as part of a series of in-person human trafficking consultations in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal, and a National Summit and a Survivor Roundtable in TorontoFootnote9. Participants highlighted the importance of: providing trauma-informed supports and services to meet the health and care needs of victims and survivors; increasing engagement with survivors; increasing public awareness and training on human trafficking; and encouraging the private sector and key industries to be more accountable in their role in addressing human trafficking. Participants also advocated for a national strategy that addresses the root causes of human trafficking and takes into account the realities of vulnerable groups that are disproportionately affected, such as Indigenous women and girls and foreign workers with precarious status in Canada. In addition, the consultations underlined the lack of awareness among Canadians and businesses of what human trafficking is, where it occurs and that goods or services used by Canadians can be produced by forced labour. This emphasizes the need to better inform Canadians on forced labour and sexual exploitation and the need to empower businesses to take action to address forced labour in their supply chains.
The Government of Canada also met with representatives of sex worker organizations in Ottawa to hear their views on the importance of not conflating human trafficking with consensual adult sex work and the challenges faced with current approaches to law enforcement.
International partners have indicated an interest in Canada’s future role in combatting human trafficking. Through international consultations with foreign governments, non-governmental organizations located abroad and international organizations, Canada has heard that it continues to be looked to internationally to have a significant role in addressing human trafficking, including advocating for increased action and collaboration among global partners and supporting capacity-building activities, while creating a unified and gender-responsive approach when addressing this issue on a global scale.
Within Canada, and among international partners, there is also an increased concern with the use of technology to facilitate human trafficking. Traffickers are using different forms of technology to exploit their victims to a larger audience and using technology to connect to other perpetrators of the crime. For example, with smartphone applications, traffickers are able to communicate, discuss payment and establish a meeting point with intended purchasers of sexual services. Similarly, traffickers are using technology applications for victim tracking and to evade law enforcement detection. Recognizing how traffickers leverage technology can enhance investigative efforts, assist in detecting criminal activity, and potentially create grounds for prosecution.
Such as the right to live in a safe environment (article 24), the right not to be kidnapped or sold (article 35), the right to be protected from any kind of exploitation (being taken advantage of) (article 36), and all other rights as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Examples provided include Canadian court cases with a conviction for trafficking in persons between 2017 and 2018 as well as a 2019 labour trafficking investigation.
The Criminal Code offences which comprise the category of human trafficking in the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey include: trafficking in persons (s.279.01); trafficking in persons under 18 (s. 279.011); material benefit (s. 279.02(1)); material benefit from trafficking of persons under 18 years of age (s.279.02(2)); withholding or destroying documents (s. 279.03(1)); and withholding or destroying documents to facilitate trafficking of persons under 18 years of age (s.279.03(2)). In addition, an offence under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act which targets international cross-border trafficking (s. 118) is included. This analysis is based on data from the Incident-based Uniform Crime Survey Trend Database (2009 to 2016) which covers 99% of the population in Canada. In order to support more detailed analysis on human trafficking, data have been pooled from 2009 to 2016.
The Criminal Code offences which comprise the category of human trafficking in the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey include: trafficking in persons (s. 279.01); trafficking in persons under 18 (s. 279.011); material benefit (s. 279.02(1)); material benefit from trafficking of persons under 18 years of age (s. 279.02(2)); withholding or destroying documents (s. 279.03(1)); and withholding or destroying documents to facilitate trafficking of persons under 18 years of age (s. 279.03(2)). In addition, an offence under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act which targets international cross-border trafficking (s.118) is included. This analysis is based on aggregate data, and counts are based on the most serious violation in the incident. Rates are calculated on the basis of 100,000 population. Populations are based upon July 1st estimates from Statistics Canada, Demography Division.
Ibrahim, D. 2018. “Trafficking in Persons in Canada, 2016.” Juristat Bulletin. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-005-X
This includes Public Safety Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Women and Gender Equality Canada, the Department of Justice Canada, Indigenous Services Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Employment and Social Development Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, and Statistics Canada, among others.
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