As part of efforts to combat human trafficking, the Ontario government has introduced a new legislation and amendments to existing legislation to build upon the province’s $307 million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy.
According to the government, this proposed legislation reinforces Ontario’s commitment to fight human trafficking and demonstrates continued leadership in responding to this pervasive crime.
Premier Doug Ford said “Our government is taking deliberate steps to put an end to human trafficking and protect victims and potential victims of this terrible crime”
“This tough new legislation builds on our Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy we introduced nearly a year ago, giving law enforcement additional tools to help prevent and deter human trafficking.”
The proposed changes include 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 proposed changes would support the government’s response to human trafficking by:
■ Supporting a long-term provincial response to human trafficking and emphasizing that all Ontarians have a role to play in combatting human trafficking;
Strengthening the ability of children’s aid societies and law enforcement to protect exploited children;
■ Supporting more survivors and the people who support them in obtaining restraining orders against traffickers, with specific consideration for Indigenous survivors;
Increasing the government’s ability to collect non-personal data to better understand the impact of the strategy and respond to human trafficking;
■ Providing law enforcement with more tools to locate victims and charge traffickers by:
Increasing penalties for traffickers who interfere with a child in the care of a children’s aid society;
■ Clarifying how and when police services can access information from hotel guest registries to help deter trafficking and identify and locate victims, while establishing regulation making authority to include other types of accommodation providers.
■ Requiring companies that advertise sexual services to have a dedicated contact to support investigations into suspected human trafficking.
Speaking on the development, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said “Our government voiced its commitment to tackling human trafficking early on in our mandate and we worked with a wide spectrum of stakeholders to establish a comprehensive $307 million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy”
“These legislative changes, if passed, will reinforce the strategy’s key objectives of supporting survivors, protecting children and youth, raising awareness among parents and community partners as well as dismantling criminal networks.”
Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, Jill Dunlop averred that “Human trafficking is happening in both urban centres and small communities across Ontario,”
“This proposed legislation further supports our cross-government approach, as well as our work with partners across jurisdictions and various sectors, to combat human trafficking. This includes providing tools to improve the ability to identify and appropriately respond to suspected instances and connect survivors to supportive services.”
Also remarking, Attorney General Doug Downey said “Our government continues to support the work of police and prosecutors to target the criminal networks that prey on and profit from young and vulnerable people in our communities.”
“We are proposing legislative reforms to better protect victims and support them in their efforts to obtain restraining orders against traffickers.”