Ontario’s $307-million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy got a lot of attention from legal practitioners, like MyDefence.ca, operating in the province, with many wondering how they’ll handle such an endeavor.
On June 1, the Ontario government revealed that it passed new legislation aimed at furthering this anti-human trafficking cause; the Combating Human Trafficking Act, 2021. This new legislation introduces several amendments, as well as adding two new acts:
- New Act: Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy Act, 2021
- New Act: Accommodation Sector Registration of Guests Act, 2021
- Amendments to: Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017
- Amendments to: Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking Act, 2017
The legislative changes are not only for protecting against traffickers, but also providing survivors with support, like restraining orders and legal help, with specific consideration for Indigenous people. They’ll also help bolster children’s aid societies and law enforcement’s efforts in protecting exploited children.
On the punishment side of things, the acts will up the penalties for anyone who interferes with a child under the care of a children’s aid society, as well as clarify when police services can access data from hotel guest registers in order to help with anti-trafficking efforts, like locating victims, while also covering other types of accommodation providers like short-term rental.
Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues Jill Dunlop stated that this new legislation makes the province of Ontario the first jurisdiction in the country that’s required to maintain its own anti-human trafficking strategy. This, in turn, will ensure that this crime will not be overlooked moving forward.
Dunlop added that the legislation was developed with help from survivors of trafficking and the people fighting it on the frontlines, which is why it does things like provide much-needed support for survivors and protect children.
The release also noted how human trafficking is among the fastest-growing crimes across the world, and how Ontario had the most police-reported incidents of human trafficking in Canada back in 2019, something that activists, and legal experts like MyDefence.ca have taken note of.
Additionally, the report also noted that the average age of people recruited into sex trafficking sits at around 13 years of age, and about 65% of victims identified by police are less than 25 years old.