Focus On

Ontario, federal-provincial-territorial counterparts discuss ways to fight human trafficking

Friday, December 06, 2019 @ 9:17 AM | By John Chunn

The Ontario government announced that this week, Jill Dunlop, the province’s associate minister for Children and Women’s Issues, met with Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) counterparts in Victoria, B.C., to advance Ontario’s commitment to combat human trafficking and protect women and children.

According to the government’s press release, at the FPT Justice and Public Safety Ministers forum, Canada and Ontario agreed to continue discussing shared priorities for the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, launched in September 2019. Dunlop further agreed to work together with federal, provincial and territorial partners to explore opportunities to host a national conference, summit or expert panel to address the pressing issue of human trafficking.

“Ontario has the highest rate of police-reported human trafficking cases in Canada, and over 90 per cent of the victims are female,” said Dunlop. “I'm pleased to see our federal, provincial and territorial partners are willing to make this a priority in the coming year and I look forward to working with them to end this horrible crime.”

Last week, Ontario announced the development of a new anti-human trafficking strategy as part of its commitment to protect women and children and combat gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse.

While many important topics were covered at the Status of Women Ministers' meeting, including justice issues, the economic empowerment of women, and LGBTQ2S issues, Dunlop put the spotlight on human trafficking. She called on other provinces and territories to make human trafficking a priority by raising awareness, supporting survivors, keeping children and youth safe and holding offenders accountable.

Dunlop’s call to action also includes a focus on Indigenous women and girls, who are at higher risk of experiencing violence and more vulnerable to being trafficked. At the meeting, Dunlop heard important perspectives from National Indigenous Leaders and Representatives (NILRs) about the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Dunlop affirmed Ontario’s commitment to work with Indigenous partners to address and combat violence against Indigenous women and girls in Ontario, including in the upcoming anti-human trafficking strategy.

“We know women cannot succeed if they continue to face violence and exploitation. Together, we can ensure every woman and girl has every opportunity to thrive and contribute to the growth of their communities, their provinces and territories and this nation,” said Dunlop.