February 23, 2017

Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking Progress Report

Housed in the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS), the Provincial Anti-Human Trafficking Coordination Office (the Office) has been established to oversee and coordinate the implementation of Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking across government.

On November 10, 2016, the Ministry announced the hiring of Jennifer Richardson as the new Director of the Coordination Office. Ms. Richardson has spent over 22 years combating human trafficking, and is a survivor of human trafficking. She was most recently the senior manager of Manitoba's Sexual Exploitation Unit and Tracia’s Trust: Manitoba’s Sexual Exploitation Strategy.

Since its establishment, the Office has made progress on building and delivering coordinated cross-government results for Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking, including:

  • Engaged 12 anti-human trafficking coalitions, representing close to 160 organizations and community groups, as well as survivors of human trafficking and community members, on the design and development  of the Community-Based Supports Fund
  • The fund will expand and improve community services for survivors of human trafficking through an open and competitive call for proposals
  • Engagement on the development of an Indigenous-Led Initiatives Fund will be conducted, with the Fund being designed, developed, and delivered with Indigenous organizations and communities
  • Designed tools and structures to track and monitor progress across multiple ministries and to evaluate the impact of the Strategy.

Coordinated cross-government activities

Ministry of the Status of Women

  • Introduced the Anti-Human Trafficking Act 2017, that if passed, would enable individuals to apply for restraining orders against human traffickers and make it easier for survivors to get compensation from those who trafficked them.

The Ministry of the Attorney General

  • Enhanced funding by $6.65 million over four years to 47 community-based service partners delivering the Victim Crisis Assistance Ontario program to provide better supports for victims of human trafficking.
  • Expanded the Victim/Witness Assistance Program to hire a specialized human trafficking victim services worker in Newmarket. In addition, two workers will be hired in Brampton and Toronto.
  • Expanded the Victim Quick Response Program by $1.93 million over four years to allow victims of human trafficking to access new benefits such as tattoo removal, replacement of government documents and recovery in a trauma-informed facility.
  • Creating a Provincial Human Trafficking Prosecution Team that will ensure the provincial coordination of an enhanced prosecutorial model across Ontario and work collaboratively with police and the Victim Witness Assistance Program to improve and enhance human trafficking investigations and prosecutions. The ministry has recruited a Provincial Crown Coordinator to lead the team and two specialized Crowns with expertise in prosecuting human trafficking cases. Once fully implemented, there will be six new Crowns on the prosecution team.

Ministry of Children and Youth Services

  • Introduced the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2016 which, if passed, will strengthen the child welfare system by placing a focus on prevention and protection – including raising the age of protection to 18 so that all eligible 16- and 17-year-olds can access services.
    • Under the current legislation, 16- and 17-year-olds who are not already subject to a court order are not eligible to receive child protection services from a children’s aid society or Indigenous child well-being society.
    • By increasing the age of protection to 18 years, all 16- and 17-year-olds who are in need of protection would be eligible for services to help them successfully transition to adulthood and reduce their risk of homelessness and other poor outcomes (e.g., poverty, mental health issues, substance use and further victimization, including human trafficking).
  • In partnership with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the ministry will be leading the development of province-wide human trafficking protocols between children’s aid societies and local police services to improve identification of victims, to proactively identify at-risk youth, and to better support victims of  human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
  • Recently released a call for applications as part of the expansion of the Youth-in-Transition-Worker Program to support youth leaving the care of children’s aid societies and Indigenous Child Wellbeing Societies, who may be at risk or survivors of human trafficking.

Other initiatives

  • The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is supporting improved human-trafficking intelligence coordination and analysis across jurisdictions with three new positions in the Criminal Intelligence Service of Ontario, and the Ontario Police College is creating a new human trafficking training program for police officers in Ontario. Meanwhile, the Ontario Provincial Police is laying the groundwork to create an Anti-Human Trafficking Police Investigation Coordination Team.
  • Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is working in partnership with Ministries, experts and key associations to identify, update and develop different models of training and resources to improve mental health and addiction community supports and services for victims of human trafficking; additionally, the ministry will be contributing to the Community-Based Supports Fund.
  • Ministry of Labour has completed awareness training for approximately 450 Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors and Employment Standards Officers to increase inspectorate awareness of the indicators of human trafficking and to allow for referrals to the appropriate agencies.