Ontario introduces new human trafficking legislation
Ontario recently introduced sweeping legislative changes to fight human trafficking by giving law enforcement officers quicker access to information and impose requirements on businesses that come into contact with suspected victims.
When proposing the changes on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Feb 15, Premier Doug Ford said the province has become a hub for human trafficking.
“We will not allow this to continue here in Ontario,” Ford said.
A Statistics Canada report published last year found that Ontario accounted for 68 per cent of all police-reported human trafficking incidents between 2009 and 2018.
The bill, if passed, would impose new requirements on hotels and short-term rentals to help police with investigations by allowing law enforcement to view guest information without a required order from a judge if the officer reasonably believes a victim would be harmed or if the information might be destroyed before an order is issued.
Short-term rental units would be required to maintain a guest registry. Companies or guests could be fined up to $5,000 for non-compliance, for willfully entering a false statement into the registry or failing to comply with a police request to view a guest register. The bill would require companies that sell sexual services to publish their contact information and respond to law enforcement within a set time frame. It would also increase penalties for those involved in human trafficking cases that interfere with a child in protective custody, with possible fines of up to $50,000 or two years in jail.
Ontario’s government would have to review its anti-human trafficking strategy every five years under the new legislation. This would include consultations with the public, human trafficking survivors and other stakeholders.