Provincial investment to increase survivor-led programming and Indigenous-led services
December 10, 2020 Children, Community and Social Services
FORT ERIE - The Ontario government is investing $46 million in the Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports and Indigenous-led Initiatives funds. They provide critical supports to children and youth who have experienced sexual exploitation, as well as survivor-led programming and Indigenous-specific services. The funding will be provided to 27 community-based projects and is part of the province’s $307 million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy, which aims to raise awareness of the issue, protect victims and intervene early, support survivors and hold offenders accountable.
“Early intervention and trauma-informed services are key to protecting young victims and helping them heal,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “These projects address the critical need for dedicated, specialized services to help child and youth victims of sex trafficking — so we can keep more people safe from this horrific crime.”
The Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports and Indigenous-led Initiatives funds will provide support to underserved regions including Northern, rural and remote communities and increase French language services. They will also expand help for boys, individuals who identify as LGBTQ2S, people with developmental disabilities, children and youth transitioning out of child welfare or the youth justice system, and newcomers.
Examples of the new programs and services include:
- The creation of a youth response team at the Ontario Native Women’s Association to provide early intervention, street-based outreach, immediate response and referrals in 10 locations across the province, including Niagara, Ottawa, Thunder Bay and Toronto.
- Programs for children aged 12 to 18 at the Roberts - Smart Centre in Ottawa that provide mental health supports, residential services, life skills training and mentorship.
- A survivor-led peer mentoring and day program for children and youth at BridgeNorth in Newmarket, which provides supports from early intervention through to stabilization, transition and reintegration.
- The creation of a mobile team at Timmins and Area Women in Crisis, which will travel to five remote and 11 rural First Nation communities in the region, providing culturally appropriate and survivor-led programming in preferred languages for vulnerable and underserviced Indigenous communities.
"Human trafficking is a serious crime that is victimizing a growing number of vulnerable Ontarians," said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. "This investment helps ensure victims and survivors have the support they need while we work to end this heinous activity in our communities.”
“Indigenous women and children make up a disproportionate number of those exploited through human trafficking in Ontario,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “We are taking serious action to put an end to human trafficking in Ontario and ensuring victims have access to culturally appropriate supports and services as a part of our plan to combat this abhorrent crime.”
“Voices of Survivors and those with lived experience are being heard,” said Casandra Diamond, Survivor, Founder of BridgeNorth. “For years we have been asking to have peer-led services, and today because of our government’s strong and wise leadership, it is a reality.”
- Based on police-reported incidents, Ontario is a hub for human trafficking.
- More than 70 per cent of known human trafficking victims identified by police are under the age of 25 and 28 per cent are under the age of 18.
- Young women and girls are particularly vulnerable to being targeted, especially those from Indigenous communities and children and youth in care, though boys, men and people who are LGBTQ2S are also targeted.
- Building on existing funding provided through the Community Supports and Indigenous-led Initiatives funds, Ontario is investing a total of $96 million in community-based services for victims and survivors of human trafficking over the next five years as part of the province’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy.