Canada has announced $57 million in funding to combat human trafficking over the next five years. As part of the new measure, the government has a new action plan that includes the appointment of a special adviser on human trafficking and an advisory committee made up of survivors.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement on Wednesday.
“We want to ensure that prosecutions are more successful; that the crime is reported more often; that the victims and survivors have the supports they need in order to escape the evil circumstances in which they find themselves; and they have the self-confidence that they’re not going to further victimize themselves by coming forward,” he said.
“It’s horrendously tough, but we need to make it more and more possible for them to have the confidence that the public safety system, the justice system, the human support system will back them up.”
Approximately $7.8 million of the new funds will be invested by CBSA in what Goodale called “immigration enforcement processes” and the establishment of a dedicated team of border officials to strengthen their effectiveness in preventing human trafficking.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will invest approximately $8.9 million to improve detection and response of suspected cases.
The Department of Women and Gender Equality Canada will invest approximately $10 million in the development and delivery of prevention programs, which are to be aimed at vulnerable populations in Canada — what Goodale described as “trauma-informed, gender-responsive, and victim-centred support services.”
Public Services and Procurement Canada will also invest around $5.5 million in the federal procurement system to extend their so-called integrity regime, in order to encourage more ethical behaviour by vendors in their supply chains and address human trafficking concerns.
The Trudeau government has already chosen its Special Adviser on Human Trafficking, announcing the selection of former RCMP Assistant Commissioner Shirley Cuillierrier, a member of the Mohawks First Nations of Kanesatake.
Federal election campaigning is due to begin this month, and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has already said he plans tackle trafficking by amending the criminal code to align it with the internationally accepted standards in the UN Palermo protocol.
Specifically, in contrast to the Palermo Protocol, at present the Crown must prove there was an element of fear present in the victim in order to convict a trafficker, thus making it more likely that charges against them will be stayed or withdrawn.
For Goodale, part of the key to measuring the success of this new action plan is seeing if reports of human trafficking increase.
“We want to see the reporting numbers go up,” he said, adding that “I can’t put a number on it.”