The EFC welcomes the Justice Committee’s report on human trafficking in Canada: Moving Forward in the Fight Against Human Trafficking in Canada
The unanimous report, which reflects several months of study and consultation by the Committee, offers 17 recommendations on actions Canada can take to end human trafficking. Overall, the EFC affirms the Committee’s recommended actions.
In an April submission to the Justice Committee
, the EFC’s recommendations included better data collection, a public education and awareness campaign, a consistent definition of human trafficking and a new national action plan that includes increased funding for victim services and training of law enforcement and frontline personnel.
The Justice Committee report made recommendations in these areas and others, such as increasing public awareness and education, improving data collection, renewing an enhanced national action plan and working towards a common definition of human trafficking. All 17 recommendations in the report are listed below.
The EFC is pleased to see these positive steps recommended by the Committee. We hope that the government’s response to the Committee report accepts and implements these recommendations.
We note that some of the EFC’s recommendations were not adopted by the Committee. It did not take a position on the link between prostitution and human trafficking, or on the role demand plays in fueling sex trafficking. However, it did note the EFC’s submission that “Sex trafficking, prostitution and pornography are inextricably linked, as sexual exploitation occurs on a circular, interconnected continuum.”
Nor did the Committee take a position on upholding our current prostitution laws, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA)
, as the EFC recommended in our submission. Instead, they discussed the differing views on these issues in the report, noting the position put forward by the EFC and others, stating that “some witnesses argued that the sex industry is responsible for the demand for sex trafficking. These witnesses believe that fully enforcing the provisions allowing for the prosecution of the purchasers of sex, as is provided for in the Criminal Code as a result of the coming into force of PCEPA, is the best means to reduce the demand for sex trafficking.”
The EFC maintains that PCEPA must be upheld and enforced as a critical tool in curbing the demand for paid sexual services, which is known to fuel sex trafficking.
Similarly, on the need for a single, harmonized definition of human trafficking, as recommended by the EFC, the Committee did not recommend a particular definition. Instead, it called on the Minister to work with provinces and territories to “firmly establish the parameters and the definition of human trafficking to ensure that there is a definition used by all governments within Canada. The work towards developing a common definition of human trafficking should be the subject of a federal-provincial-territorial meeting of ministers responsible for justice and public safety.”
The EFC will continue to recommend the definition of trafficking set out in the UN’s Palermo Protocol, which is clear, comprehensive and widely adopted. We will continue to advocate for the use of this definition across Canadian law and policy.
The Committee also calls on the federal government to provide funding on a one-time basis to provinces and territories to implement the Committee’s recommendations. We note that there is no recommendation that the government provide sustained, long-term funding for victim services and supports, as the EFC recommended. We hope that the new national strategy will include the sustained, long-term funding for victim services and supports that is needed.
The Committee’s Recommendations are as follows:
Recommendation 1 – Increasing Awareness
That the Government of Canada take appropriate measures to increase public awareness of human trafficking. This should include campaigns directed to the general population and targeted towards specific groups, such as the hospitality industry, taxi, limousine drivers and ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft. It should also be directed towards more vulnerable groups or persons, such as Indigenous and racialized communities, and children. These campaigns should also be reaching out to young people through social media.
Recommendation 2 – Protecting Victims Abroad
That the Government of Canada increase awareness among officials working in Canadian embassies and consulates regarding the assistance and protection of victims of human trafficking by providing them with regular updates and training on the initiatives taken by Canada to combat human trafficking and assist its victims. A copy of this report should also be distributed to them.
Recommendation 3 – Preventing Victimization of Migrant Workers
That the Canada Border Services Agency take immediate steps to ensure that all migrant workers are briefed 2 Recommendation 5 – Training for Judges That the Minister of Justice encourage the provinces and territories to support training programs aimed at increasing awareness of human trafficking among judges.
Recommendation 6 – Financial Reports
That the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada [FINTRAC] develop and implement an effective outreach program designed to assist financial institutions and money services businesses, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in detecting suspicious financial transactions that could be related to human trafficking, and to use them in investigations and prosecutions.
Recommendation 7 – Protecting Temporary Foreign Workers’ Rights
That Employment and Social Development Canada ensure that all migrant workers are reminded on a regular basis, in languages that they understand, on their rights and recourses in Canada. More specifically, they should be reminded that if they report situations of human trafficking, they will not be deported for the duration of the rest of their work permit. They should also be informed that they can find a new employer within the same field, when credible allegations of human trafficking or other exploitative situations are reported. Such procedures should be facilitated by the Department. To ensure proper compensation for workers, where applicable, the Department should also advise them of the existence of provincial bodies, such as labour tribunals, and inform them of the recourses available to them.
Recommendation 8 – Parameters and Definition of Human Trafficking
That the Minister of Justice work with the provinces and territories to firmly establish the parameters and the definition of human trafficking to ensure that there is a definition used by all governments within Canada. The work towards developing a common definition of human trafficking should be the subject of a federal-provincial-territorial meeting of ministers responsible for justice and public safety.
Recommendation 9 – Data Gathering and Information Sharing
That the Minister of Justice work with the provinces and territories to improve data gathering and information sharing among all stakeholders involved in the fight against human trafficking in Canada and work towards creating a national database containing such data and information.
Recommendation 10 – National Hotline on Human Trafficking
That the Government of Canada include in its National Human Trafficking Hotline project announced in Budget 2018:
• a reporting system for victims of human trafficking and for receiving tips from the public about potential human trafficking incidents;
• an online component that could be used by civil society organizations to share information about human trafficking;
• an information-sharing system specifically designed for law enforcement agencies; and
• an ability to report into the hotline by text.
Recommendation 11 – Renewal of an Enhanced National Action Plan
That the Government of Canada work towards the renewal of an enhanced National Action Plan to End Human Trafficking. This enhanced plan should be supported through adequate resource allocation to address the realities and challenges facing community organizations that assist victims as well as law enforcement agencies that are charged to investigate and detect human trafficking.
Recommendation 12 – Special Events
That the Government of Canada consider taking steps to require organizations hosting an event that may attract a significant number of tourists into the country to notify the Canada Border Services Agency and local police prior to hosting such events with the objective of increasing law enforcement agencies’ vigilance in terms of monitoring and tracking potential victims and traffickers along the borders and at airports.
Recommendation 13 – Collaboration and Coordination
That the Minister of Justice, at the earliest opportunity, share the practices recommended in this report with the Minister’s provincial and territorial counterparts during the next meeting of the federal–provincial–territorial ministers responsible for justice and public safety. The aim should be to seek collaboration and coordination across the country in the fight against human trafficking.
Recommendation 14 – Federal Funding
That the Government of Canada provide funding on a one-time basis to the provinces and territories to cover some of the costs resulting from the implementation of the recommendations set out in this report.
Recommendation 15 – Publishing the Identity of Convicted Human Trafficking Offenders
That the Minister of Justice takes the steps necessary to publish the identity of convicted human traffickers to deter people within Canada and others located abroad from committing or participating in the commission of this horrific crime and abuse of human rights.
Recommendation 16 – Publishing the Names of Establishments Found to have Knowingly Facilitated Human Trafficking
That the Minister of Justice work with its provincial and territorial counterparts to establish a mechanism that would allow the publication of the names of establishments within the hospitality industry, such as hotels, that have been found by a competent tribunal to have knowingly facilitated human trafficking.
Recommendation 17 – Creating Self-Governance within the Hospitality Industry
That the hospitality industry creates self-governance within their membership to regulate human trafficking within the industry. This should include appropriate code of ethics regarding the facilitation of such crime within their establishments. The industry should also be given proper education on human trafficking and be encouraged to collaborate with local police to facilitate the identification of traffickers.