Last week, the US State Department released its’ annual Trafficking in Persons Report. This comprehensive resource describes the governmental response to human trafficking and ranks each country on a tiered scale. It is the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts.
Canada maintained a Tier One ranking, indicating that the Canadian government complies with the minimum standards set by the US Department of State. However, the report emphasized that Canada has much to improve on.
The report noted that Canada is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking, and a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labour.
According to the report, police charged 112 individuals in 63 trafficking cases across Canada in 2015. Although this represents a drop from the previous year, Canadian courts delivered comparatively longer sentences to convicted traffickers.
The report noted that anti-sex trafficking responses were considerably greater than labour trafficking responses across the country. “Labour trafficking represents over half of our referrals,” says Andrea Burkhart, Executive Director of ACT Alberta. “We face constant struggles in coordinating services for many of our most vulnerable labour trafficking clients.
” Migrants to Canada were noted to be at particular risk of being trafficked. Alberta currently has the second highest number of Temporary Foreign Workers in the country.
The report also noted that interagency coordination and national data collection is uneven across Canada, and recommends more proactive law enforcement investigations.
“We’ve come a long way in Canada in recognizing and responding to this issue. But there remains much to be done,” says Burkhart.
ACT Alberta works collaboratively with government agencies, law enforcement, and frontline service providing agencies to address the needs of victims of trafficking, Action Coalition on Human Trafficking provide public education and training, conduct research, and coordinate services in the community.