The Region of Peel became the first municipality in Ontario to ensure the long-term sustainability of needed services and supports for those impacted by human sex trafficking. In June 2018, Peel Regional Council endorsed ‘A Strategy to Address Human Sex Trafficking in Peel’, a three-year pilot to implement and operate a safe/emergency house, a transition house, and a dedicated service hub. The pilot evaluation findings indicate that the Strategy is successful in achieving its intended outcome to increase awareness and coordinated access to dedicated services to victims, survivors, and those at-risk of sex trafficking in Peel. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the need for service provision and housing for human sex trafficking survivors in Peel, and the Strategy was approved as a permanent $2.1 million program.
Human sex trafficking impacts the lives of a large numbers of individuals, primarily women, with many victims facing long-lasting effects of trauma. The average age of victims is 12 to 24 years old, and Ontario accounts for more than 70% of reported cases in Canada. In addition, 62% of Canadian human trafficking cases originate in the GTA, in part due to access to major highways and an international airport.
The Region is working with all levels of Government to combat human trafficking in all its forms. The Region is addressing the issue through awareness, as well as supports, operating an emergency safe house and transitional house for victims. Peel’s strategy aligns with the Province of Ontario’s anti-human trafficking strategy 2020-2025.
The Strategy addresses human sex trafficking through:
- Prevention – To increase awareness via learning modules and training for Regional frontline staff
- Intervention – Coordinated support to bring services to victims. Core services include trauma counselling, health care, client and system navigation, case management and outreach. In-kind complementary services include life and job skills, legal support and education
- Exits – A dedicated safe house and transitional house for victims and survivors
The Strategy ensures that specialized supports are now available within Peel enabling this population to access much-needed services and supports without having to leave their community. The 2022 budget committed for the Anti-Human Sex Trafficking Strategy is $2.1 million consisting of housing operations (one safe/emergency house and one transitional house supported by Elizabeth Fry) and for the integrated services hub, (supported by Catholic Family Services of Peel-Dufferin and Our Place Peel), providing health care, trauma counselling and employment services to victims.
The Region collaborates with peel regional Police, community partners and many organizations across Peel and the Greater Toronto Area to address human trafficking and reduce victimization. For more information on the Peel Human Trafficking Service Providers Committee, the Peel Anti-Human Sex Trafficking task force or read the Region’s full human sex trafficking strategy.
If you’re a victim or survivor of human sex trafficking or forced labour, or you know someone who is, contact the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010.
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