The Ford government announced its plans to invest an additional $202-million into preventing human trafficking over the next five years according to the Globe and Mail.
The investment, which broke Friday morning, is penned to be the largest investment by any provincial or federal government.
The $202 million figure will be tacked on to the already existing $105 million from an existing fund. That fund covers all bases—including law enforcement tools and public awareness campaigns.
Specialized intervention teams, bringing awareness about human trafficking into the education curriculum and housing for victims are all on the agenda for the new budget. There is also a proposal to invest funding into community support groups and Indigenous-led initiatives.
“Human traffickers prey on the most vulnerable members of our society – our children,” Mr. Ford said in a statement.
“We must put an end to this disgusting industry and take immediate steps to keep our kids safe.”
Ford will announce the details and long term plans for the funding in St. Catharines, Ont., with Solicitor-General Sylvia Jones and Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues.
Ms. Dunlop has stressed the important need for victims to have ongoing support in order for them to, “heal from their trauma and rebuild their lives.”
The statistics reveal that Ontario is certainly the province most in need of making a better effort to combat sex trafficking. Two-thirds of all police-reported human trafficking violations for the entire country occur in Ontario, with 13 being the average age of those recruited.
There are 42 sexual-assault centres in Ontario and an additional $2 million will go to aiding the costs of those centres.
Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, which currently serves 125 victims of sex trafficking, was very impressed with the layout of the new strategy to fight the issue. Walker even went as far as to call it the “most comprehensive plan to address human trafficking” that she has ever seen.
“It covers all of the pillars that we consider to be so crucial to helping end trafficking in the long-term, including public awareness, ensuring that the law is enforced or that new legislation is created and to make sure that survivors have immediate access to service as well as safe houses,” she said to the Globe, adding praise for its inclusion of specific programs of counselling and support for Indigenous women and girls.
“This is not tokenism, there is $307-million that they are investing into this and … that is an incredibly significant amount of money that will go a long way in helping us keep women and girls safe.”
Though Ontario’s initiative is impressive, it’s clear that provincial and federal leaders have made fighting human trafficking a top priority.
In 2019, federal leaders announced a $57 million investment over five years.
In 2016, Quebec announced that it would invest $200 million to be spent over five years.
British Columbia has provided $37 million in annual funding to victim services for women.