(Leeds-Grenville – March 12, 2021)
The Ontario government is strengthening protection for children and youth by investing more than $586,000 over the next five years in a new program to support young victims and survivors of human trafficking in Leeds-Grenville and the surrounding areas. The money is part of $46 million being provided for 27 new projects across the province through the Community Supports Fund and Indigenous-led Initiatives Fund.
“Enhancing protection for children and youth is a key component of the province’s new proposed Combatting Human Trafficking Act, which was introduced last month to help fight this growing crime,” said MPP Steve Clark, Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Through our government’s strategy to combat human trafficking we are investing in local initiatives to help protect children and youth and keep our communities safe. This new program will provide vital services to help young people who are at risk or have been sex trafficked, increasing the availability of these much-needed supports in this region.”
Delivered by Victim Services Leeds and Grenville, this new program is funded through the province’s Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports Fund. Increased services will be provided to children and youth who have been sexually exploited, including ongoing services in areas such as peer support, trauma counselling, and employment readiness. It will also create access for young people in rural and remote areas, providing assistance that may not have been there for them in the past.
“Victims of human trafficking can experience trauma that can last a lifetime,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “This new wellness and recovery program will support long-term healing for child and youth victims of sex trafficking in this region. The range of supports being offered will help them move towards independence and empowerment and help them heal and rebuild their lives.”
“A human trafficking survivor recently told us that she appreciates and values the support we provide but would really like to talk to someone who has been through it,” said Sonya Jodoin, Executive Director, Victim Services Leeds and Grenville. “Now we can make that happen. We are so very thankful for this grant as it allows us to bring survivor voices into our programs and have survivors as peer support workers, furthering our efforts towards recovery and healing.”
The Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports and Indigenous-led Initiatives are providing funds for the project as part of a more comprehensive network of supports throughout Ontario.
“This investment and the proposed new and amended legislation are part of Ontario’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,” said MPP Clark. “The Combatting Human Trafficking Act introduced on February 22, 2021, includes two new proposed 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.”
Ontario is a hub for human trafficking, as based on incidents reported by the police, with more the 70 percent of the identified victims under the age of 25 and 28 percent under the age of 18.
This funding will help deter human trafficking and improve services to youth in the local area.