Ontario passes bill to strengthen the fight against human trafficking
By Blue Line Staff
By Blue Line Staff
June 7, 2021 – The Ontario government passed new legislation and amendments to existing legislation to build upon the province’s $307 million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy.
The Combating Human Trafficking Act, 2021 reinforces Ontario’s commitment to fight human trafficking and demonstrates continued leadership in responding to this pervasive crime.
“Our government is taking further action to fight the deplorable crime of human trafficking,” said Premier Doug Ford. “This legislation will help to protect victims, support survivors and ensure offenders are held accountable and punished to the full extent of the law. Our government will not rest until everyone in Ontario can live free from violence and abuse.”
The new legislation includes two new acts – the Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy Act, 2021 and the Accommodation Sector Registration of Guests Act, 2021 – as well as amendments to the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 and the Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking Act, 2017. Together, the acts build on the government’s response to combat human trafficking by:
- Increasing awareness of the issue, supporting a long-term provincial response and emphasizing that all Ontarians have a role to play in combatting human trafficking;
- Supporting more survivors and the people who support them in obtaining restraining orders against traffickers, with specific consideration for Indigenous survivors;
- Strengthening the ability of children’s aid societies and law enforcement to protect exploited children;
- Increasing penalties for persons, including traffickers, who interfere with a child in the care of a children’s aid society; and,
- Clarifying how and when police services can access information from hotel guest registers to help deter trafficking and identify and locate victims, while establishing the power to include other types of accommodation providers, such as short-term rental companies.
The Combating Human Trafficking Act also requires companies that advertise sexual services to have a dedicated contact to support investigations into suspected human trafficking.
“This new legislation further supports our government’s commitment to fight human trafficking and to protect victims and potential victims of this heinous crime, building on our $307-million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy announced last year,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “It gives law enforcement the additional tools needed to help prevent and deter human trafficking and builds on the cross-government approach to supporting survivors, protecting victims, raising awareness among parents and community partners, and dismantling criminal networks.”
Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes worldwide. Ontario is a hub for human trafficking, with the most police-reported incidents of human trafficking in the country occurring within the province in 2019. The average age of recruitment into sex trafficking is approximately 13 years old and nearly 65 per cent of human trafficking victims identified by police are under the age of 25.
“This ground-breaking legislation makes Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada required to maintain an anti-human trafficking strategy, ensuring that combating this crime remains a priority into the future,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “Developed with input from survivors and those working on the frontlines, this legislation also provides important new tools to support survivors and better protect children and youth, demonstrating once again our government’s strong and unwavering commitment to fighting this crime and keeping the people of Ontario safe.”