Human Trafficking

Classification: Unclassified

Branch/Agency: CSCCB/LEBS/SOCD

Proposed Response:

Financial Implications:


Human trafficking, also referred to as trafficking in persons, involves the recruitment, transportation or harbouring of persons for the purpose of exploitation, typically sexual exploitation or forced labour. The primary international instrument to combat trafficking in persons is the United Nations (UN) Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention) and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Trafficking in Persons Protocol). The Trafficking in Persons Protocol is one of three protocols under the UNTOC. These three Protocols are often referred to as the Palermo Protocols. Canada has ratified two of three of the Protocols: the Trafficking in Persons Protocol and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air. Canada has not ratified the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition. Canada ratified the Trafficking in Persons Protocol and its parent convention, the United Nations’ Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, on May 13, 2002, to prevent trafficking, protect its victims and prosecute the offenders.

Canada’s criminal laws prohibit trafficking in persons for any exploitative purpose, regardless of whether it occurs within Canada or involves bringing persons into Canada. The Criminal Code of Canada contains specific human trafficking offences that are punishable by maximum penalties as high as life imprisonment, with mandatory minimum penalties ranging from one to six years.

Canada has been identified as a source, destination and transit country for victims of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labour. According to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, police-reported incidents on human trafficking in Canada have steadily increased since 2010. The latest Juristat on Trafficking in Persons in Canada indicates that between 2009 and 2016, 95% of human trafficking victims in Canada were female, 72% were women under the age of 25, and 25% were under 18. Individuals at risk of victimization more generally include persons who are socially or economically disadvantaged, such as Indigenous women, LGBTQ2 persons, youth, migrants, new immigrants, teenage runaways and children who are in protection.

Since the expiry of the 2012-2016 National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, the Government of Canada has continued to take efforts to address this crime, including enhancing funding through Justice Canada’s Victims Fund, increasing protections for temporary foreign workers, and conducting stakeholder engagement. In Fall 2018, PS conducted consultations to inform the way forward on human trafficking through three regional roundtables, a national summit, and an online questionnaire. Participants included victims and survivors, all levels of government, civil society, law enforcement and front-line service providers. PS also held a separate sex worker roundtable in October 2018 to hear their views on the development of a new national strategy.

Following these consultations, Budget 2018 announced $14.51 million over five years and         $2.89 million ongoing to establish a national human trafficking hotline. Operated by the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking (CCEHT), the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline was launched in May 2019. It is a multilingual, 24/7, toll-free line, referral service and resource Centre that receives calls, emails and texts about potential human trafficking in Canada and refers victims to local law enforcement, shelters and a range of other trauma-informed supports and services. Public Safety Canada and the CCEHT have entered into a five year contribution agreement for $12.5 million over five years to support the operation of the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline.

In September 2019, the Government launched a new National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking that is supported by an investment of $57.22 million over five years and $10.28 million ongoing. The National Strategy builds on the internationally recognized pillars of prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships, and incorporates a new pillar of “empowerment” to ensure considerable focus is put towards enhancing supports and services to victims affected by this crime.

Of this investment, PS has been allocated $22.6 million over five years and $2.9 million ongoing to undertake activities, including the development a national case management standard, public awareness activities, training tools; enhance contribution funding under CPCSOC for support services, and establish of an Advisory Committee made up of victims/survivors of human trafficking.

Other federal departments and agencies, including, Canada Border Services Agency, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada, Women and Gender Equality and Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada have also been allocated funding to support the implementation of the National Strategy.



Prepared by: Asha Clarke, A/Senior Policy Advisor, 613-949-3179

Approved by: Trevor Bhupsingh, A/ADM, Community Safety and Countering Crime Branch, 613-990-2703

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