TORONTO — The Ontario government announced front-line victims services organizations will receive $7.65 million over five years in funding for specialized services to support human trafficking victims and survivors as part of the government’s comprehensive anti-human trafficking strategy. A portion of this funding will be directed to Victim Services Toronto, Victim Services of York Region and the province’s other Victim Crisis Assistance Ontario organizations.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Attorney General Doug Downey, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues.
“Through our government’s anti-human trafficking strategy, we are helping young women and children escape a living nightmare and rebuild their lives,” said Premier Ford. “We will continue to work with police to give them the tools and resources they need to go after the thugs responsible for this disgusting crime and put them behind bars where they belong.”
Supports funded through this investment include:
- Additional funding to the Victim Quick Response Program+ to help human trafficking victims and survivors cover essential expenses, such as accommodation, meals, transportation, dental care, mobile phones and tattoo removal.
- Enhanced services under Victim Crisis Assistance Ontario to enable front-line staff across Ontario to address the immediate and local needs of human trafficking victims and survivors, particularly children and Indigenous persons. This could include early intervention to help victims transition out of human trafficking, referrals to local programs and increased hours of service.
- Expanded funding to the Vulnerable Victims and Family Fund to cover key court-related expenses for human trafficking victims and survivors, including basic necessities such as weather or courtroom-appropriate attire, and costs associated with travel, meals and accommodations.
“Our government is partnering with law enforcement, prosecutors and front-line victim service providers to comprehensively respond to the shocking growth of these crimes,” said Attorney General Downey. “These investments will ensure victims can access dedicated supports and services when and where they need them.”
The funding announced today is part of the government’s anti-human trafficking strategy released in March, which includes a $307 million investment over five years. The comprehensive strategy aims to raise awareness about human trafficking, protect victims and intervene early, support survivors, and hold offenders accountable.
“Human trafficking is a vicious and violent crime that preys on our most vulnerable, robbing them of their health, safety and dignity,” said Solicitor General Jones. “This investment helps ensure victims and survivors have the support they need while we work to combat human trafficking, hold offenders accountable and end this heinous crime.”
“Supporting victims and survivors is a key commitment in our new anti-human trafficking strategy,” said Associate Minister Dunlop. “Our investment in these agencies will support increased access to a range of trauma-informed services to help victims rebuild their lives. It will also assist them in navigating the justice system so that more traffickers can be held accountable.”
- Over two-thirds of police-reported human trafficking violations in Canada occur in Ontario.
- Over 70 percent of known human trafficking victims identified by police are under the age of 25, with 28 percent under the age of 18.
- The average age of recruitment into sex trafficking is 13 years old.
- Young women and girls are particularly at risk, especially those from Indigenous communities ― due to the impacts of colonization ― and children and youth in care. Boys, men and people who are LGBTQ2S are also targeted.
- In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government recently provided an emergency payment of more than $2.7 million to strengthen services for victims of intimate partner violence and other violent crimes.
- During the COVID-19 outbreak, an emergency payment of $1.5 million was also made to support Ontario’s Partner Assault Response programs to protect victims of intimate partner violence and hold offenders accountable.