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The Facts - Human Trafficking in Canada
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Public Safety Canada

Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is often described as a modern-day form of slavery. It involves the recruitment, transportation, harbouring and/or exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of a person in order to exploit that person, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour. Human trafficking is a heinous crime that exploits the most vulnerable. The victims, who are mostly women and children, are deprived of their normal lives and compelled to provide labour or sexual services, through a variety of coercive practices, often for the direct profit of their perpetrators.

Human trafficking is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The extent of human trafficking, both in Canada and internationally, is difficult to assess due to the hidden nature of the crime, the reluctance of victims and witnesses to come forward to law enforcement and the difficulty of identifying victims. We know that anyone can fall victim to this crime, although women and girls represent the majority of victims in Canada. Those who are at-risk also include:

Indigenous women and girls; migrants and new immigrants; 2SLGBTQI+ persons; children and youth in the child welfare system; those who are socially or economically disadvantaged; and migrant workers who may be particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse due to many factors, such as language barriers, working in isolated/remote areas, lack of access to services and support, and lack of access to accurate information about their rights. If you think someone is a victim of human trafficking, call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline, 9-1-1, or your local police.

Difference between Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling
Human trafficking and human smuggling are often confused but they are two different crimes.
What’s the difference?

Human smuggling is, by nature, a transnational crime whereas trafficking in persons is not. Human trafficking often happens within a country’s own borders.

Human smuggling generally involves the consent of the person smuggled. Trafficked persons have either never consented or their consent has been rendered meaningless by the trafficker’s exploitative conduct.

Smuggled persons are generally free to do what they want once they have arrived at their country of destination. In contrast, trafficked persons have their liberty curtailed and are forced to provide their labour or service.

The source of profit for human smuggling is the fee associated with the smuggling act. In trafficking cases, profits are made through the exploitation of the victim(s).

Despite these differences, smuggled persons may become trafficking victims either during travel or once they arrive at their destination. It is therefore critically important to be able to distinguish between these crimes.

Statistics on Human Trafficking
Canada has been identified as a source, destination and transit country for victims of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour. As of 2020, Statistics Canada reported that:
  • 3,541 incidents of human trafficking have been reported to police services in Canada between 2011-2021.
  • 83% of incidents of human trafficking were reported in census metropolitan areas Footnote 1.
  • 96% of victims of police-reported human trafficking were women and girls.
  • 81% of persons accused of human trafficking were men.
  • 24% of victims of police-reported human trafficking were aged 17 and younger, 45% between 18-24, and 21% between 25-34.

Visit Statistics Canada’s 1 A census metropolitan area (CMA) consists of one or more neighbouring municipalities situated around a major urban core. A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000, of which 50,000 or more live in the urban core.

The team at Courage for Freedom wants to share prevention tips to protect you and your community against human trafficking. They wish to spread their knowledge and take action to end the buying and selling of girls and boys, children in Canada.

Raise confident, resilient kids:
  • Educate kids without fear. Have age-appropriate conversations about what to look out for (for example, human traffickers may pose as a fellow kid/teen interested in friendship or a relationship) and methods that can ensure they stay safe online.
  • Maintain open communication with your children. Let them know that they can come to you if they need to talk to someone.
  • Help your kids build self-esteem. Encourage and support them as they participate in activities that make them feel good about themselves!
  • Ensure that your children are building healthy relationships with peers that are trustworthy, loyal, and supportive.
  • Actively listen to your kids and make time to hear out their concerns.

Be empowered, trustworthy adults:
  • Kids need allies to keep them safe. Remember: one safe, secure adult to talk to in addition to family is prevention.
  • Know the signs of human trafficking and share this information with your friends, family, and young people in you life.

Enter the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline number into your phone for easy access to support services or law enforcement in your community in case of emergency:

The hotline is for: victims and their friends and family seeking help, people with a tip to report a potential case, and members of the public wanting to learn more about the subject.

Learn about and share information on Safety Planning from the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline, which outlines general safety tips and how to exit a human trafficking situation.

Courage for Freedom
PO Box 414, Station Main,
Chatham, ON
N7M 5K5