ECHO- Ontario Expanding Services for Young Victims of Sex TraffickingPublished on June 19, 2020
ELGIN-MIDDLESEX-LONDON — The Ontario Government is investing up to $46 million over the next five years to increase community-based and Indigenous-specific supports for child and youth victims of sex trafficking. The Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports Fund and the Indigenous-led Initiatives Fund will prioritize early intervention and increased protection for victims of sexual exploitation and dedicated survivor supports.
“Over the last year, we heard from our frontline agencies, survivors and Indigenous communities and organizations that there is a critical need to increase available supports for children and youth affected by sex trafficking,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “Our goal is to build a more comprehensive network of anti-human trafficking services across Ontario, so more victims have access to the supports they need.”
Funding will be available to partners and agencies and focus on areas such as:
- Trauma-informed programming developed and delivered by survivor-led organizations,
- Dedicated services for victims under age 18, including residential placements and treatment, peer mentoring, as well as education and employment training programs;
- Culturally-appropriate, Indigenous-designed supports for First Nations, Inuit and Métis victims, families and communities;
- Targeted supports for sexually exploited boys, individuals with developmental disabilities, LGBTQ2S individuals, and racialized and newcomer populations;
- Specialized programs for children and youth involved in or transitioning out of child welfare or the youth justice system.
“We know that human trafficking is present in communities of all sizes across the province, and that includes Elgin-Middlesex-London,” said MPP Jeff Yurek. “I am proud that the Ontario government prioritizes supporting victims through our incredible local agencies and leading a strategy to end human trafficking altogether.”
“Human trafficking isn’t just an enforcement issue — it’s a vicious and violent crime that preys on our most vulnerable, robbing them of their health, safety and dignity,” said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. “By investing in intervention and specialized services for young people, we can reduce the threat of exploitation and protect those most at risk. These programs are vital components of Ontario’s comprehensive plan to combat human trafficking, bring traffickers to justice and end this heinous crime.”
Announced in March 2020, Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy will invest $307 million over the next five years on a comprehensive plan to raise awareness of the issue, protect victims and intervene early, support survivors and hold offenders accountable. The strategy reflects valuable input from survivors of human trafficking, Indigenous communities and organizations, law enforcement and frontline service providers.
Applications to the Community Supports Fund and Indigenous-led Initiatives Fund will be accepted until 5 p.m. on July 30, 2020.
“Fifty per cent of all trafficked and sexually exploited women and girls are Indigenous,” said Megan Walker, Executive Director of the London Abused Women’s Centre. “Traffickers use manipulative and coercive tactics to lure children and youth into prostitution and pornography. During COVID, while children are home from school, there has been an increase in the number of children lured through social media sites. Parents are losing their children to traffickers. Once they are gone, it is difficult to bring them home. The Government of Ontario Anti-Human Trafficking fund will allow front line organizations to provide indigenous, youth and child focussed programs to raise awareness about human trafficking and provide enhanced services to children and youth. This is a game changer as we fight the growing crisis of trafficking.”
“I am very glad to see this investment follow the province’s announcement of Ontario's Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy in March,” said Kelly Tallon Franklin, founder of Courage for Freedom. “Since 60% of all human trafficking reported in Canada originates in Ontario, it is significant that the province is a historic national leader in combatting this terrible crime. Survivors are very happy to hear that this program will be survivor-led, trauma-informed, and Indigenous-specific. The government has listened to our concerns through public awareness campaigns like Project OnRoute and have delivered support to help care for deserving minor-aged survivors and their families. I thank Premier Ford, Minister Dunlop, Solicitor General Jones, and their colleagues for their collaboration and support.”
- Approximately two-thirds of police-reported human trafficking violations in Canada occur in Ontario.
- Over 70 per cent of known human trafficking victims identified by police are under the age of 25 and 26 per cent are under 18.
- The average age of recruitment into sex trafficking is 13 years old.
Young women and girls are particularly at risk, especially those from Indigenous communities and children and youth in care, though boys, men and people who are LGBTQ2S are also targeted.