Ontario Supporting Young Victims and Survivors of Human Trafficking in Toronto

Ontario Supporting Young Victims and Survivors of Human Trafficking in Toronto

Investment in new community programs will help young victims rebuild their lives

October 01, 2021

Children, Community and Social Services

TORONTO – The Ontario government is investing more than $6.3 million over five years in new programs to provide more young victims and survivors of human trafficking in Toronto with the services they need. This funding will support new programs provided by Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre, Covenant House, Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women, FCJ Refugee Centre, Montage Support Services, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, Project iRise and SickKids, Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect Program. Providing better protection and increased supports for children and youth who have been sexually exploited or are at risk is a key focus of Ontario’s strategy to combat human trafficking.

“This investment will provide more help for victims and survivors of sex trafficking in Toronto, including Indigenous-led services, survivor-led programming and specialized supports dedicated to children and youth,” said Jane McKenna, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “These new programs will play a crucial role in helping more people in Ontario who are at risk or have been trafficked stay safe, heal from their trauma and rebuild their lives.”

Examples of the new programs in Toronto include:

  • Culturally responsive, trauma-informed, wrap-around prevention and treatment services delivered by Native Child and Family Services of Toronto for high-risk Aboriginal children, youth and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals, including individual and group counselling, land-based retreats, job readiness and life skills training;
  • A survivor-led, one-year leadership and empowerment program delivered by Project iRise, including workshops, mentorship and employment skills development;
  • Clinical services for children and youth under age 18, including systematic screening for early identification, specialized mental health interventions, and survivor-led peer support provided through SickKids, Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect Program.

“This funding support is another example of how our government is taking comprehensive action to protect survivors and stop the rise of trafficking in communities across Ontario,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “Ontario is leading the way in ensuring victims and survivors of trafficking are supported with a five-year anti-trafficking strategy and the recently passed Combatting Human Trafficking Act.”

“Both in school and out, keeping kids safe remains a top priority for our government,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Our investment in these new programs, along with the ground-breaking legislation we have passed and our anti-sex trafficking policy framework for school boards, are examples of how Ontario is leading the way in combatting sex trafficking and providing the supports needed to help young victims and survivors.”

These new programs are funded through Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports and Indigenous-led Initiatives funds to increase services across the province. The government is investing a total of $96 million in community-based services and Indigenous-led supports for victims and survivors of human trafficking over five years as part of the province’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy 2020-2025.

“Survivors of sex trafficking need and deserve access to specialized supports, so they can safely exit trafficking and reduce the risk of re-exploitation,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This is a meaningful investment that will provide a range of new services, including high quality mental health and addictions supports, which are critical to supporting victims and ensuring survivors of these crimes can recover safely and regain their independence.”

In total, 27 new projects are being funded through the Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports and Indigenous-led Initiatives funds to provide a more comprehensive network of supports across the province. This investment is part of Ontario’s $307-million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy to raise awareness of the issue, protect victims and intervene early, support survivors and hold offenders accountable.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is a hub for human trafficking, accounting for the majority of police-reported incidents in Canada.
  • In 2019, 65 per cent of known human trafficking victims identified by police were under the age of 25 and 22 per cent were under 18.
  • Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy represents the largest total investment in dedicated anti-human trafficking supports and services in Canada.

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