Today, Premier Doug Ford announced groundbreaking legislation that aims to end human trafficking in Ontario — a threat that has grown especially prevalent in recent years.
Ford said the new bill is "desperately needed in Ontario" to address the problem.
Our province has become a hub for human trafficking, with the most police-reported incidents in the entire country.
Of all the police-reported human trafficking incidents in 2019 in Canada, 55% occurred in Ontario, the province states.
This legislation will be the first of its kind in the entire country, and it builds on the province's $307 million anti-human trafficking strategy.*
"We will not allow this to continue here in Ontario," said Ford. "It's hard to think of a more important issue, of a more brutal crime. The criminals behind human trafficking, they're the worst of the worst."
Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues Jill Dunlop added that "human trafficking is happening in both urban centres and small communities" in Ontario.
The proposed changes include two entirely new acts – Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy Act, 2021 and the Accommodation Sector Registration of Guests Act, 2021.
One of the goals is to strengthen the power that children's aid societies and law enforcement have to protect exploited children.
It will also provide police with more tools to locate victims and charge traffickers, as well as increase penalties for traffickers who interfere with a child in the care of children aid societies.
*This article has been updated.