Ontario Passes Bill to Strengthen the Fight Against Human TraffickingPublished on June 01, 2021
New act includes tools to raise awareness, better protect victims, support survivors and hold offenders accountable
TORONTO — 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.”
“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.”
“The Combating Human Trafficking Act adds strong new dimensions to our government’s actions to support and protect survivors of this heinous crime,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “In addition to providing new discretion to judges to lengthen restraining orders beyond the current limit of three years, the legislation extends protection to frontline workers and survivors’ family members and recognizes customary care arrangements.”
“Our government has zero tolerance for human trafficking and is committed to taking the action necessary to bring traffickers to justice while protecting and supporting victims,” said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. “Fighting human trafficking takes cooperation and collaboration across sectors and with our industry partners. These legislative changes will have a significant impact and will help to deter human trafficking in the hospitality sector.”
- 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.
- Almost 65 per cent of human trafficking victims identified by police are under the age of 25.