Fighting Human Trafficking in Niagara

Published on February 26, 2021

Niagara Falls - The Ontario government is taking action to help enhance efforts to fight human trafficking in Niagara. The proposed, tough new legislation and amendments to existing legislation build upon the province's comprehensive, $307 million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy launched in March 2020. This legislation reinforces Ontario's commitment to fight human trafficking and demonstrates continued leadership in responding to this pervasive crime.

The changes would, if passed, strengthen efforts in Niagara to increase awareness of human trafficking, protect victims and intervene early, support survivors, and hold offenders accountable.

"Our government is taking deliberate steps to put an end to human trafficking and protect victims and potential victims of this terrible crime," said Premier Doug Ford.

"This tough new Legislation builds on our Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy we introduced nearly a year ago, giving law enforcement additional tools to help prevent and deter human trafficking."

"Sex trafficking is Ontario's dirty little secret and this new legislation, if passed, would expose those who are trafficking women and girls in every part of Ontario," said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.

"As Ontario's minister for heritage, sport, tourism and culture I'm committed to ensuring this criminal activity is prevented in our hotels, motels, short term rentals and at our convention and meeting spaces. To protect those vulnerable women we must have a whole of government approach."

"Human trafficking is a vile and terrible crime, that needs to be fought with everything possible," said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West.

"This legislation will provide important tools to our law enforcement partners to crack down on traffickers in communities in Niagara and across the province. To survivors and those being trafficked: we hear you and will continue doing what is needed to protect and support you."

The proposed changes include 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 proposed changes would support the government’s response to human trafficking by:

  • Supporting a long-term provincial response to human trafficking and emphasizing that all Ontarians have a role to play in combatting human trafficking
  • Strengthening the ability of children’s aid societies and law enforcement to protect exploited children
  • Supporting more survivors and the people who support them in obtaining restraining orders against traffickers, with specific consideration for Indigenous survivors
  • Increasing the government’s ability to collect non-personal data to better understand and respond to human trafficking
  • Providing law enforcement with more tools to locate victims and charge traffickers by:
    • Increasing penalties for traffickers who interfere with a child in the care of a children’s aid society
    • Clarifying how and when police services can access information from hotel guest registries to help deter trafficking and identify and locate victims, while establishing regulation making authority to include other types of accommodation providers
    • Requiring companies that advertise sexual services to have a dedicated contact to support investigations into suspected human trafficking.