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Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Ontario enacts new human trafficking law

  • February 26, 2021

OTTAWA -- Ontario's government used the newly declared National Human Trafficking Awareness Day Feb. 22 to unveil major new funding and legislation as part of the province’s anti-human trafficking strategy, as governments in Canada continue to take action against what Pope Francis has called “a crime against humanity.”

“Our government is taking deliberate steps to put an end to human trafficking and protect victims and potential victims of this terrible crime,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement announcing the Combatting Human Trafficking Act and additional supports to combat trafficking, support for survivors and providing more tools to children’s aid societies and law enforcement.

“This tough new legislation builds on our Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy we introduced nearly a year ago, giving law enforcement additional tools to help prevent and deter human trafficking.”

The funding comes just days after the federal government declared Feb. 22  as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Conservative shadow minister for Women and Gender Equality Jag Sahota introduced the motion earlier this month at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.

Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey said one of the goals of Ontario’s new legislation is to target those who prey on the young and vulnerable.

“We are proposing legislative reforms to better protect victims and support them in their efforts to obtain restraining orders against traffickers,” he said.

“Human trafficking is happening in both urban centres and small communities across Ontario,” said Jill Dunlop, associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “This proposed legislation further supports our cross-government approach, as well as our work with partners across jurisdictions and various sectors, to combat human trafficking. This includes providing tools to improve the ability to identify and appropriately respond to suspected instances and connect survivors to supportive services.”

The federal government also has a National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking that brings together federal efforts and is supported by an investment of $57.22 million over five years and $10.28 million in ongoing funding.

On Feb. 18, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair announced in Halifax close to $55,000 for Saint Mary’s University for its Community Hackathon: Addressing Human Trafficking in Atlantic Canada project. That two-day virtual event brought together post-secondary students from across Atlantic Canada, service providers and law enforcement to examine ways that technology can be used to raise awareness about human trafficking.

The Catholic Church observes an International Day of Prayer Against Human Trafficking on Feb. 8 and on that date Pope Francis released a video marking the seventh International Day of Prayer and Reflection against Trafficking in Persons.

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