HU­MAN TRAF­FICK­ING

Pro­posed On­tario leg­is­la­tion would al­low sur­vivors to take their ex­ploiters to civil court

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE -

TORONTO — Hu­man traf­fick­ing sur­vivors would be al­lowed to sue their traf­fick­ers un­der new leg­is­la­tion pro­posed in On­tario, where about two-thirds of all po­lice-re­ported cases in Canada oc­cur.

In­tro­duced Wed­nes­day, the Anti-Hu­man Traf­fick­ing Act would es­tab­lish a process for sur­vivors and those at-risk to ap­ply for hu­man traf­fick­ing-spe­cific re­strain­ing orders.

It would al­low sur­vivors to take their traf­fick­ers to civil court, and would pro­claim Feb. 22 as Hu­man Traf­fick­ing Aware­ness Day.

“Hu­man traf­fick­ing ex­ploits the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in our com­mu­ni­ties,” Sta­tus of Women Min­is­ter Indira Naidoo-Har­ris said in a state­ment. “It is a de­plorable crime and we must do ev­ery­thing we can to pro­tect and sup­port sur­vivors. This leg­is­la­tion helps sur­vivors live with­out fear, and ac­cess the ser­vices they need to re­cover.”

Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Lau­rie Scott in­tro­duced a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill tack­ling the same is­sue last year af­ter con­sult­ing with those af­fected by hu­man traf­fick­ing.

“I can’t help but think that the govern­ment could have and should have acted sooner,” she said Wed­nes­day.

“We now fi­nally see the govern­ment em­brac­ing the changes that stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing vic­tims’ ser­vices or­ga­ni­za­tions, po­lice of­fi­cers and vic­tims them­selves have long been call­ing for.”

The Lib­eral govern­ment in June an­nounced a $72-mil­lion strat­egy to end hu­man traf­fick­ing, which in­cludes the cre­ation of a pro­vin­cial anti-traf­fick­ing co-or­di­na­tion of­fice meant to foster in­for­ma­tion shar­ing be­tween po­lice, so­cial ser­vices, child wel­fare and other sec­tors.

The govern­ment also promised at that time to es­tab­lish a spe­cial­ized pro­vin­cial pros­e­cu­tion team to tackle hu­man traf­fick­ing cases and ad­vise lo­cal Crown at­tor­neys and law en­force­ment.

New Demo­crat Peggy Sat­tler said there was a con­cern­ing lack of de­tail in the Lib­er­als’ June an­nounce­ment. The cor­ri­dor along High­way 401 par­tic­u­larly has been deal­ing with hu­man traf­fick­ing, re­flected in her own com­mu­nity of Lon­don, she said.

“Lon­don po­lice have re­ported a shock­ing spike in the num­ber of women and girls be­ing traf­ficked, girls whose av­er­age age is just 13,” Sat­tler said.

“In only 17 months since July 2015, the Lon­don Abused Women’s Cen­tre has as­sisted 158 women and girls who iden­tify as be­ing sex traf­ficked and sex­u­ally ex­ploited.”

BERNARD WEIL, TORONTO STAR

Indira Naidoo-Har­ris: “This leg­is­la­tion helps sur­vivors live with­out fear.”

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