Understanding Human Trafficking: Your Rights and How We Can Help

November 29, 2023

By: Chelsea Hishon

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Human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar international industry. There are an estimated 25 million victims worldwide (1). Trafficking, also referred to as modern-slavery, is the “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” (2).

To the surprise of some, human trafficking regularly occurs within Canadian borders. Given the complexity of the issue, the federal and provincial governments have taken a multifaceted approach to combatting trafficking and assisting those who have been victimized. As an initial step, the federal government amended the Criminal Code in 2005 to add human trafficking as a criminal offence. The new provisions make it a criminal offence to traffic a person, as well as facilitate or materially benefit from the trafficking of a person in Canada. Subsequent amendments have expanded the scope of trafficking offences, including those specifically related to children (3).

In Ontario, the provincial government passed the Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking Act, 2017 (4). One of the key elements of this legislation is the creation of the tort of human trafficking. This allows a person to bring a lawsuit against a defendant for damages resulting from being trafficked, in addition to the profits that accrued to the defendant as a result of their being trafficked (5).

Unfortunately, victims are often reluctant to come forward to report being trafficked or seek compensation. There are various reasons why a victim may not come forward, including:

  • concern for their own safety;
  • fear they may be reprimanded for associated crimes;
  • distrust of law enforcement;
  • the stigma and shame of disclosing;
  • the relationship with their trafficker; and
  • concern of being retraumatized by the judicial process (6).

Due to the above concerns, many victims are unaware of their legal rights. If you are a victim of sexual abuse or human trafficking who would like to learn about your legal rights, we are here to help. Your communication with our office is strictly confidential, free of charge and without obligation to retain our services. Our goal is ensuring survivors of sexual abuse, including sex trafficking, know their legal rights and can make informed decisions.

1. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Countering Human Trafficking: Year in Review (October 2020 to September 2021), DHS Centre for Countering Human Trafficking, January 2022, at p 3 https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/2022-02/CCHT%20Annual%20Report.pdf.

2. Public Safety Canda, About Human Trafficking”, https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/cntrng-crm/hmn-trffckng/abt-hmn-trffckng-en.aspx.

3. Criminal Code, R.S., c. C-34, ss. 279.01 to 279.04 https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/page-41.html#h-120700.

4. Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking Act, 2017, SO 2017, c 12, Sch 2,

5. Ibid at ss.16 and 17.

6. The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, Why victims and survivors of human trafficking may choose not to report, https://www.canadiancentretoendhumantrafficking.ca/why-victims-and-survivors-of-human-trafficking-may-choose-not-to-report/.

Published on November 29, 2023

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