An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons)

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.


Joy Smith  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill.


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to add the offence of trafficking in persons to the offences committed outside Canada for which Canadian citizens or permanent residents may be prosecuted in Canada.
It also amends the Act to add factors that the Court may consider when determining whether an accused exploits another person.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


April 4, 2012 Passed That Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), as amended, be concurred in at report stage.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 23rd, 2024 / 5:40 p.m.
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Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill S-224, which “amends the Criminal Code to specify what constitutes exploitation for the purpose of establishing whether a person has committed the offence of trafficking in persons”.

The Bloc Québécois supports the principle of this bill, because it is imperative that we discuss all the tools likely to help the authorities combat this scourge, which is getting worse as more people move around the globe and the number of refugees increases. This topic is near and dear to my heart, because I would actually like to point out that, although I was unable to attend the annual general meeting yesterday, I had expressed my interest in renewing my mandate as co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking with my three other colleagues. There are four co-chairs, and we have been working on this issue for several years now.

I will talk about this bill by explaining it in greater detail, then I will talk a bit about the Palermo protocol, and then I will close by denouncing human smugglers.

First, this bill responds to the demands of several human trafficking survivors' groups and would make the definitions of exploitation and human trafficking more consistent with those set out in the Palermo protocol, which Canada signed in 2000. Bill S‑224 is very simple but very important. It removes a phrase from the Criminal Code stating that a charge under these provisions must be based on the fact that the victim believes “that their safety or the safety of a person known to them would be threatened” if they fail to comply. According to the International Justice and Human Rights Clinic at the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Law, asking victims to demonstrate that they have reasonable grounds to fear for their safety may be an obstacle to obtaining convictions for human trafficking. Elements of the offence of human trafficking are more difficult to prove than those of other similar offences. For example, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which prohibits human trafficking, does not require the person involved to prove that they fear for their safety. This standard is no longer appropriate.

Second, it is important to note that this issue transcends borders because of the Palermo protocol, which dates back to 2000. On May 13, 2002, Canada ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Article 3 of the convention clearly defines trafficking in persons. That is how trafficking in persons was added to the Criminal Code in 2005. However, the Canadian definition does not match the one in the Palermo protocol, since the issue of consent or the victim's sense of security is taken into account in it. In Canada, the victim must prove that he or she was in danger or that he or she refused to be exploited.

In a case of trafficking in persons, regardless of whether the victim was initially willing or felt safe, the victim should not have to justify the circumstances under which they were lured in order to prove that trafficking in persons occurred. The U.S. State Department studied the legislation of its two neighbours, Canada and Mexico. Obviously, there is no real comparison. However, the report does make suggestions for Canada. It is important to remember that even if consent was given, such as consent to come to Canada, it does not mean that the person consented to the forced labour or sexual exploitation to which they were subsequently exposed, especially if the victim is dependent on someone because of isolation, lack of resources and language barriers.

In 2005, Bill C-49 added three human trafficking offences to the Criminal Code, as well as a definition. Trafficking in persons is now defined as receiving a financial or other material benefit for the purpose of committing or facilitating trafficking in persons, as set out in section 279. 02; withholding or destroying a person's identity documents—which happens sometimes or often, even—such as a passport, whether authentic or forged, for the purpose of committing or facilitating trafficking of that person, as set out in section 279.03; and exploitation for the purpose of human trafficking offences, as set out in section 279.04.

In 2008-09, the first case involving a human trafficking charge under this new legislation was completed in adult criminal court. In 2010, subsection 279.011(1) was added to the Criminal Code. It imposed mandatory minimum penalties for individuals accused of the “trafficking of a person under the age of eighteen years”. That was Bill C-268. In 2012, the Criminal Code was amended to allow for the prosecution of Canadians and permanent residents for human trafficking offences committed internationally and to provide judges with an interpretive tool to assist in determining whether exploitation occurred. That is in subsection 279.04(1), and it was Bill C-310.

In 2015, mandatory minimum sentences were imposed for the main trafficking in persons offence under section 279.1 of the Criminal Code, for receiving a material benefit from child trafficking under subsection 279.02 of the Criminal Code, and for withholding or destroying documents to facilitate child trafficking under subsection 279.03(2), stemming from former Bill C-454 introduced by the Bloc Québécois. We have been thinking about this issue for a few years now.

Let us talk about the link between human smugglers and human trafficking. In the context of trafficking in persons, it is important to recognize the related issue of migrant smuggling, which is often mistaken for human trafficking. Migrant smuggling, or what some might call migration assistance, consists of helping an individual cross a border illegally. The individual consents to being transported and makes a payment to the smuggler in exchange for the desired service. On their arrival, the individual can simply be dropped off and cease all contact with the smuggler.

In contrast, human trafficking involves deception, coercion or debt bondage with the aim of exploiting people who might be transported from one place to another. Victims do not necessarily cross borders.

Human trafficking and human smuggling often intersect because smuggled migrants often find themselves in situations of exploitation similar to those experienced by victims of trafficking. This may be the case for people who owe their smuggler money for transportation costs and have to work to pay it back. This is abusive, because the sums involved can be exorbitant when these people arrive. That can also be the case for migrant workers who are forced to work in exploitative conditions. In these cases, human trafficking charges could be laid, even if the smuggled migrants consented to the smuggling at the outset. Things can go sideways afterwards.

All of that contributes to the low rate of reporting. That is the problem. As one can imagine, when victims of trafficking realize what is happening, they hesitate to come forward. According to the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, Julie Miville-Dechêne, a 2018 report from Public Safety Canada explains that victims are often reluctant to report their situation, since they tend to believe that the success rate of prosecutions is very low. Prosecutors, for their part, find it difficult to reach the high threshold of evidence required for trafficking cases.

The statistics are startling. In 2019, 89% of human trafficking charges resulted in a stay, withdrawal, dismissal or discharge. Less than one in ten charges resulted in a guilty verdict. That is why we are examining this issue today.

According to a study by the University of British Columbia's Allard School of Law, there are approximately 4.8 million victims of sex trafficking alone, and 99% of them are female. Statistics Canada has indicated that, according to police-reported data, 2,977 incidents of human trafficking occurred between 2010 and 2020. During that period, 86% of incidents were reported in census metropolitan areas, compared to 58% of incidents of violence or approximately six out of 10. Over half, or 57%, of incidents involved human trafficking alone, whereas 43% also involved other types of crime, mainly offences related to the sex trade. The vast majority, or 81%, of accused human traffickers were men or boys, who were most commonly between the ages of 18 and 24, at 41%, followed closely by men between the ages of 25 and 34, at 36%.

Human trafficking cases took almost twice as long to resolve as cases involving violent offences in adult criminal courts. That is another problem. The median time it took to resolve a case involving at least one violent offence charge in an adult criminal court was 176 days. In contrast, the median time to resolve a case involving a human trafficking charge was 373 days.

It is still hard to get accurate data about the true extent of trafficking. All the organizations agree that it is a widespread problem that generates proceeds rivalling those of drug and gun trafficking. In 2014, the International Labour Office estimated that illegal profits in the general category of forced labour amounted to $150.2 billion U.S. per year, a figure that is still often cited today because it is so huge.

In closing, I too applaud the new provision proposed by Senator Ataullahjan, not least because it uses the terminology from the Palermo protocol, which means that it focuses on the actions of the trafficker, not the victims' fear. Victims' confidence and dignity must be restored, and they must be able to report what is happening to them. More of these cases need to be reported.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

March 10th, 2023 / 1:40 p.m.
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Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, before I begin my speech, I want to commend the hon. parliamentary secretary for giving so much of his speech in French. That takes effort and the results speak for themselves. I want to congratulate him on that.

This bill “amends the Criminal Code to specify what constitutes exploitation for the purpose of establishing whether a person has committed the offence of trafficking in persons.” As my hon. colleague from Saint-Jean said a few sitting days ago, the Bloc Québécois supports the principle of this bill.

It is imperative that we discuss all of the tools that could help authorities combat this scourge, which is getting worse with population movement and the growing number of refugees. This bill also responds to the demands of several human trafficking survivors' groups and would make the definitions of exploitation and human trafficking more consistent with those set out in the Palermo protocol, which Canada signed at the beginning of the millennium.

The bill is very simple but very important. It removes a phrase from the Criminal Code so that an accusation under these provisions must be based on the fact that the victim believes that a refusal on their part would threaten their safety or the safety of someone known to them.

According to the International Justice and Human Rights Clinic at the faculty of law at the University of British Columbia, asking victims to demonstrate that they have reasonable grounds to fear for their safety may be an obstacle to obtaining convictions for human trafficking.

Elements of the offence of human trafficking are more difficult to prove than those of other similar offences. For example, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which prohibits human trafficking, does not require the person involved to prove that they fear for their safety. This standard is no longer appropriate.

Let us look at the chronology of legislation against human trafficking. In 2002, Canada ratified the Palermo protocol, a “protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime”.

Article 3 clearly defines trafficking in persons as follows:

“Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs . . . .

That is the definition.

That is how human trafficking came to be added to the Criminal Code in 2005. The Canadian definition, however, is different from the Palermo Protocol definition in that the issue of consent or the victim's sense of safety is taken into consideration. Thus, the victim must prove that they were in danger if they refused to be exploited.

In human trafficking cases, regardless of whether the victims were initially willing or felt safe, victims should never have to justify the circumstances under which they were lured into the situation in order to prove they were trafficked. Human trafficking is not limited to sexual exploitation, as we have already heard. Traffickers exploit their victims in many ways, including for forced labour. It is important to remember, for example, that even if victims did consent to come to Canada, they did not consent to the forced labour or sexual exploitation to which they may have been subjected afterwards, especially if they end up being dependent on someone because of isolation, lack of resources or language barriers.

Section 118 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, passed in 2002, makes it a criminal offence to “organize the coming into Canada of one or more persons by means of abduction, fraud, deception or use or threat of force or coercion”. Although human trafficking and human smuggling are two different concepts, the act also prohibits human smuggling into Canada.

In 2005, Bill C-49 added three offences related to human trafficking to the Criminal Code, as well as a definition. The offences include trafficking in persons; receiving a financial or other material benefit from the commission or facilitation of trafficking in persons; withholding or destroying a person's identity documents, such as a passport, whether authentic or not, for the purpose of committing or facilitating trafficking in persons; and exploiting another person in the context of trafficking in persons offences.

In 2008-09, the first case involving a charge of human trafficking under the new law was ruled on in adult criminal court.

In fall 2008, a 20-year-old woman went to Peel Regional Police to report that a 22-year-old Ontario man named Vytautas Vilutis was using intimidation and threats to sexually exploit her. She said that she made $10,000 for him in just a few weeks through online Craigslist classified ads. She added that he took her phone calls, set up her “dates” and kept track of her appointments, so he knew how much money she owed him each morning. It was not until he threatened her for not leaving all the cash out for him one morning that she reported him to police. Vytautas Vilutis pleaded guilty in April 2009 to charges of human trafficking and receiving a material benefit from human trafficking.

He was convicted under both provisions and was the first person in Canada to be convicted for benefiting from human trafficking. In 2010, another section was added to the Criminal Code, setting out a mandatory minimum sentence for persons charged with trafficking of persons under 18. That was Bill C‑268.

In 2012, the Criminal Code was amended to allow the prosecution of Canadians and permanent residents for the offence of trafficking in persons committed outside Canada, and added factors that judges may consider when determining whether exploitation occurred. That was Bill C‑310.

In 2015, mandatory minimum sentences were imposed for the main trafficking in persons offence, receiving a material benefit from the proceeds of child trafficking, and withholding or destroying documents to facilitate child trafficking. Bill C‑452 was put forward by my political party.

In 2019, the Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, released the national strategy to combat human trafficking 2019‑24. With $75 million in funding over 6 years, this strategy followed the Palermo protocol. The national strategy to combat human trafficking 2019‑24 was adapted from the previous five-year plan.

It was adapted due to some deficiencies identified during policy assessment, namely that most of the resources were being allocated to the fight against sexual exploitation whereas forced labour is a growing issue. This is nothing new, but it is being increasingly recognized and discussed.

Bill S-224 is part of a long legislative quest to combat human trafficking, which is extremely important. In closing, I would like to paraphrase author Ralph Champavert and say that the stigma of human trafficking will disappear when the sun of human dignity rises in all hearts.

February 15th, 2022 / 3:50 p.m.
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Joy Smith Founder and President, Joy Smith Foundation Inc.

Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and distinguished members of this committee.

I want to recognize and acknowledge that our offices are located on treaty territory, the original lands of the Anishinabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

I am a former member of Parliament. I worked hard during my time as an MP to bring the human trafficking issue to the public radar screen here in Canada. The Joy Smith Foundation was founded in 2011 to combat human trafficking. Since then, I volunteer every single day at my foundation to continue the work to bring awareness about human trafficking in Canada and to help survivors and their families restore their lives.

Last October, we launched the National Human Trafficking Education Centre, the first of its kind in Canada. The centre provides free education for parents, teachers, law enforcement, service providers and others. We have 64 instructor-led modules that are currently being put online so that Canadians can receive much-needed information about how traffickers operate and what they can do to protect themselves from these predators.

We have worked on over 6,000 files of victims and their families, to restore their lives and help the victims reintegrate into the communities and back into their families. Our prevention and intervention programs at the NHTEC will be online for easy access for Canadians as soon as we get the translations completed in French and English and into some indigenous languages.

A five-minute presentation at committee today does not give justice to the complex issue of trafficking in persons and how important Bill C-36 is to the safety of our youth. It was the catalyst that set the groundwork for so many victims of human trafficking to be able to speak out and bring their perpetrators to justice. It helped me, when I was a member of Parliament, to bring the survivors' voice to the public radar screen.

When I was in Parliament, I had two bills passed to combat human trafficking: Bill C-268 and Bill C-310. They are embedded in the Criminal Code of Canada today. I had widespread support from all sides of the House at the time I was passing these bills, and I give credit to the survivors for telling their stories.

Members from all sides of the House supported these bills, and that was critical, because it opened a nationwide conversation about human trafficking and how its victims were suffering. More than that, Canadians, including the survivors themselves, started their own organizations to combat human trafficking.

Bill C-36 must remain, and parliamentarians must do more to protect their constituents from these predators, because the traffickers are in every constituency in our country. Victims of human trafficking are the recipients of horrid abuse and often lose their lives. To legalize prostitution would be a travesty of massive proportions against our most vulnerable populations, our LGBTQ, our immigrants and our youth.

I see it over and over again every single day: the suffering of young victims of human trafficking and what they endure at the hands of human traffickers, traffickers who seek to make copious amounts of money off their victims, as much as $260,000 to $280,000 per victim per year. That is why they do it. Most of the victims enter the sex trade at a very young age, as young as 12 to 14 years, and some even younger.

Before Bill C-36 came on the scene, there was nothing that effectively reduced the demand for the exploitation of underage girls and boys from traffickers, and in criminalizing the johns who create the demand for sexual services, Bill C-36 has helped curtail the human trafficking.

Human traffickers are the third parties who promote and capitalize on the demand for sex by facilitating this practice. They initially pose as benevolent helpers, providers or protectors to those innocent victims, who are lured into the modern-day slave trade. Bill C-36 addresses this issue as one of the objectives that has helped greatly in bringing these perpetrators to justice: It recognized trafficked victims as individuals who are lured and live through the horrid human trafficking experience with horrendous physical and mental traumas on their shoulders.

For the first time in Canadian criminal law, the purchase of sexual services is illegal. This helps in bringing traffickers to justice, because this offence makes prostitution itself an illegal practice, but this is a balanced law, because these adults who choose to sell themselves for sex are protected by law and can do so with no ramifications.

Recently, in Winnipeg, we were able to lobby to shut down the licensing of massage parlours and strip clubs. This is where human traffickers often place their victims.

Thank you so very much for this time today, because I have to say loud and clear, Bill C-36 is very helpful and very successful in doing these kinds of things.

In conclusion, parliamentarians must strive to keep Bill C-36 and do so much more to ensure trafficking in persons is no longer a factor in Canada.


Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

February 16th, 2021 / 10:10 a.m.
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Jag Sahota Conservative Calgary Skyview, AB


That the second report of the Standing Committee on Status of Women presented on Thursday, February 4, 2021, be concurred in.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Peace River—Westlock.

I am pleased to rise today to voice my support for declaring February 22 as national human trafficking awareness day. Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, harbouring and/or exercising control, discretion or influence over the movement of a person in order to exploit that person, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour. It is often described as a modern form of slavery.

Human trafficking is not something Canadians think of often, if at all. When we do, we often think that this horrendous and dehumanizing crime is being committed elsewhere in the world: somewhere that is less fortunate and that lacks effective law enforcement. However, as the Conservative shadow minister for Women and Gender Equality, I have learned from several of my colleagues, including the member for Peace River—Westlock, and from stakeholders and organizations across the country just how vast the human trafficking network is in Canada.

Statistics Canada's 2018 report on human trafficking indicated that 90% of human trafficking in Canada was reported in census metropolitan areas, and that 97% of victims are women and girls with 74% of them being under the age of 25. Of that 74%, 28% were under the age of 18. These numbers are absolutely horrifying and break my heart. These are not just numbers. These numbers represent somebody's daughter, son, grandson, granddaughter, niece or nephew. No one underage, particularly those who are trafficked, has the ability to consent to sexual acts or exploitation.

When I look at my party's record on this issue, I am grateful that we have taken this issue seriously and made significant overhauls to our Criminal Code to address this very serious crime. The member for Haldimand—Norfolk, during her tenure as the minister for Citizenship and Immigration and as minister for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, introduced several changes to the temporary foreign worker program and the immigration act to prevent situations where temporary workers in Canada, including strippers, might be abused, exploited or possibly become victims of human trafficking.

In 2010 and 2012, former member of Parliament Joy Smith introduced and passed two private member's bills: Bill C-268 , minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years, and Bill C-310, trafficking in persons. Bill C-268 amended the Criminal Code and set mandatory minimums for those who were convicted of trafficking anyone under the age of 18, while Bill C-310 addressed a major loophole in our Criminal Code and made sure that Canadians or permanent residents who went abroad for the purpose of exploiting or trafficking foreign individuals would be brought back to Canada for prosecution.

In 2012, our Conservative government launched a four-year national action plan to combat human trafficking. This included Canada's first integrated law enforcement team dedicated to combatting human trafficking, and increased frontline training to identify and respond to human trafficking, enhanced prevention in vulnerable communities, provided more supports for victims of this crime, both those who are Canadians and foreigners, and strengthened our coordination with domestic and international partners in combatting human trafficking.

Our Conservative government also recognized that the majority of people who are trafficked are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This is why, when our government had to revisit Canada's law regarding prostitution and pass Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, we put a heavy focus on protecting these victims.

Until this law was passed, those forced into the sex trade were often treated as criminals by the law instead of being treated as the victims. This law was a made-in-Canada approach recognizing that those who sell sexual services are often victims of human trafficking and often underage. We recognized those people as victims of a more heinous crime, and instead of further victimizing the victim, our Conservative government focused on the pimps and the johns. This included those convicted of procuring, recruiting or harbouring another person for the purpose of prostitution, with a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. If the victim was a child, the penalty carried a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.

We have done a lot to address human trafficking in Canada and stand up for the vulnerable in our society. However, there is still much more work that needs to be done.

Despite all of our hard work as parliamentarians, human trafficking is still a growing crime in Canada and remains very much below the public radar. At the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, one of the facts we have constantly heard from witnesses is the importance of raising awareness to help combat the prevalence of human trafficking. That is why I strongly support declaring a national awareness day. It would give us an opportunity to create an awareness campaign to educate Canadians that this crime happens and happens locally. It would show them the signs of someone who is being or is about to be trafficked and how to report that to the authorities.

The time is now to act on this very important issue. It has been over 16 years since Canada added human trafficking offences to the Criminal Code and 14 years since the House unanimously adopted a motion to condemn all forms of human trafficking and slavery.

The motion also calls for making February 22 the day to be declared national human trafficking awareness day. I believe this is the best and most practical day to use. The Provinces of Ontario and Alberta already use February 22 as the day to bring awareness provincially. Also, the government's own special adviser for combatting human trafficking has said that they would like to see this day declared as the national human trafficking awareness day.

There are several motions from all parties on the Order Paper: Motion No. 45 from the Conservative member for Peace River—Westlock, seconded by the Bloc member for Shefford; Motion No. 59 from the NDP member for Edmonton Strathcona, seconded by the Green member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith; and Motion No. 57 from the Liberal member for Scarborough—Guildwood, seconded by the Green member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith. All of their motions call for the House to condemn all forms of human trafficking and slavery, promote awareness, take steps toward combatting human trafficking and declare February 22 as national human trafficking awareness day.

Human trafficking is one of the most lucrative and quickly growing crimes in Canada. I hope all members of the House will agree with me and join me in declaring February 22 as national human trafficking awareness day.

March 1st, 2018 / 3:25 p.m.
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Joy Smith Founder and President, Joy Smith Foundation Inc.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It's really nice to be back and to see the members around the table studying this very important topic.

As you know, I spent 11 years, four months, and 59 seconds in the House of Commons and passed the two bills, Bill C-268 involving mandatory minimums for traffickers of children 18 years and under, and Bill C-310, whereby the long arm of the Canadian law can reach into other countries when Canadian citizens or residents of Canada go abroad and exploit or traffic, and we can now bring them back to Canada to bring them to trial.

Going through the human trafficking issue in Parliament has been a process, because initially the good citizens of Canada often didn't know what human trafficking was, and that extended, Mr. Chair, right to parliamentarians. There has been a great change since the beginning of that time in people's understanding that there is human trafficking, so we've gone a long way in a very short time.

What brought me to Parliament then was working with the survivors of human trafficking, and I'm very pleased that Diane Redsky is here today. She is the executive director of Ma Mawi and is like a sister to me. She has done amazing work.

I'm so pleased to have Donald Bouchard, who was a trafficker and who now is doing much to combat human trafficking. I am the total skeptic. I never believed he was really sincere, so I had to wait for a very, very long time—many, many years—and I saw the amazing work he was doing and the voice he had to dissuade traffickers from buying and selling kids.

I want to speak first of all to the fact that I read over the blues and I read over all of the other testimony. You had department heads in here, the RCMP and others, as well as the border patrols, talking about the progress we have made. I have to commend the members here for dealing with the issue of human trafficking.

I know that even Rob Nicholson—and I guess you're not Minister Nicholson, but MP Nicholson—at one time was skeptical. I'm writing a book called I Just Didn't Know, because when people find out, they want to do something, like MP Nicholson, like all of you around the table today, because human trafficking is basically the buying and selling of mostly underage girls, as well as some boys, and in some provinces the aboriginal community is highly overrepresented on this issue.

There are many definitions that people are confused about on human trafficking, and there are many I used. There is one I used when I was doing my bills, which was very well known, but I often say that if someone is being bought and sold, that's human trafficking. I think sometimes we get too caught up in the minutiae of definitions and things like that, but really what it's about is human beings.

Many girls have their power and their dignity and everything taken away from them because they are sold to somebody and forced to service men sexually. Girls are very highly represented, no matter what community they come from. The fact of the matter is that now parliamentarians in this House have to understand that we have to take very definitive steps to stop this from happening.

The national action plan reached its limit in March 2017. We need a national action plan to combat human trafficking, because it's not only the laws that are put in: we need safe houses and we need rehabilitation of the victims of human trafficking. We need to help them restore their lives.

We found that very critical. The foundation has put together an education program for grades 8 to 12, and I'm surprised at how many young girls—I've only had two boys, and the rest of them have all been girls—have come up and said, “I think my boyfriend is grooming me.” In the school program they learn how the predators work and they learn how they gain their trust. It's just so insidious and hideous.

It's widely accepted. I think also it's very important that prostitution not be legalized in any way, because it puts more young girls at risk.

Parliamentarians can do specific things. The two that I've just mentioned, Mr. Chair, are extremely important. The national action plan to help rehabilitate the victims of human trafficking and make sure that they get the education and all the things they need to restart their lives is extremely important. As for the safe houses, I know there are places now all across this country where victims of human trafficking can go to be rehabilitated, but there aren't enough.

People call it prostitution, but I don't like to call it prostitution. I don't use that word. A young girl is lured; the trafficker gains her trust by giving her lots of praise and gifts and the vision that she'll get married some day, and then all of a sudden it all changes. They say they have to pay back all these gifts, and it becomes very hideous, very brutal. The kids are very scared. I could tell you a million stories, but I know in eight minutes I don't have time to do that. I'm trying to put a broad brush on the things that I see today in Parliament in 2018 that really need to be addressed.

How much time do I have?

February 15th, 2018 / 3:20 p.m.
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Acting Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Policy Sector, Department of Justice

Matthew Taylor

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I thought it might be helpful to the committee for me to provide information for you on two separate things: first, the legislative history of Canada's criminal laws on human trafficking, and second, some background information on the types of programs that Justice Canada has funded to enhance services for victims of human trafficking.

Canada's first human trafficking specific offence was enacted in 2002 as part of the enactment of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Section 118 prohibits the trafficking of persons into Canada and targets the means used by traffickers, such as force, fraud, abduction, deception, or coercion to bring victims into our country. It should be noted that the enactment of this offence coincided with Canada's implementation of the UN protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, which Canada ratified in May of 2002.

In 2005, Parliament passed Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), and enacted three specific Criminal Code offences to more comprehensively address human trafficking, specifically, section 279.01 which prohibits all forms of human trafficking, domestic or transnational, and for any exploitative purpose; section 279.02, which prohibits the receipt of a financial or a material benefit knowing that it was derived from human trafficking; and, third, section 279.03, which prohibits the holding of identity documents to facilitate human trafficking.

Since that time, additional criminal law reforms have been passed by Parliament. In 2010, a private member's bill, Bill C-268, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years), was enacted, creating a separate offence of trafficking in children that is punishable by mandatory minimum penalties of imprisonment.

In 2012, two years later, a private member's bill, Bill C-310, was enacted, enabling Canada to assume extraterritorial jurisdiction to prosecute in Canada Canadian citizens or permanent residents who commit human trafficking abroad. It also enacted a provision in subsection 279.04(2) that provides guidance to the courts in helping them to determine whether exploitation has been made out, exploitation being an essential element of the trafficking in persons offence.

In 2014, former Bill C-36 was passed, enacting the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.This act provided new mandatory minimum penalties for human trafficking involving adult victims and for the financial benefit and documents offences involving child victims.

Most recently, the government has introduced Bill C-38, an act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons), to bring in force certain amendments that were passed in Parliament in 2015 through a private member's bill, Bill C-452, and also An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons). These provisions would enact an evidentiary presumption to help prosecutors prove an element of the human trafficking offence.

That's a bit of a summary of the changes that have been enacted by Parliament. As you can see, these criminal laws in respect of human trafficking have been the subject of ongoing interest and concern by parliamentarians.

At the same time, Justice Canada has supported their implementation in various ways, including through the provision of regular training to police and prosecutors, in conjunction with the RCMP and other police forces, victim services, and other experts. We've developed a handbook for police and prosecutors and fact sheets on key criminal justice issues for police and prosecutors, such as sentencing submissions, bail proceedings, and things of that nature in a human trafficking context. Justice officials have participated in similar efforts internationally, working closely with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to develop similar technical assistance tools to support implementation around the world.

The department is also supporting improvements to victim services. A copy of initiatives that have been funded since 2012 by the department through the victims fund has been provided to the clerk of the committee, I believe, detailing the specifics of each project. Examples for your information include: enhancing victim services delivery in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec; supporting the development of a resource handbook for indigenous women and girls who were victimized through human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation; and, developing a mental health and addictions program for women and girls who were victims of trafficking.

I'm going to conclude my remarks there. I look forward to any questions.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

June 9th, 2015 / 8:25 p.m.
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Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Chair, it is my pleasure tonight to give my farewell speech here in the beautiful Parliament of Canada. These past 11 years have been a very interesting time here in Canada.

I have to thank first of all my beautiful family. My son Edward actually inspired me to come to Parliament because of his work in the ICE unit, because of his heart for those who could not help themselves, the trafficking victims and the child abuse cases he worked on. As my son, he turned my heart as a mother and subsequently the nation's heart was turned, because in this place I was able to come and represent the survivors of human trafficking. I thank my son Michael, who is a brilliant young man; Janet who is a top supporter of everything that I have done; Natasha, who is absolutely creative and brilliant; Alexandra, of course, who does so much on my foundation and who is truly a wonderfully caring human being; and Jenna. Those are my six children, and there are my grandchildren.

I am eternally grateful to my family for supporting everything I have done since I came to Parliament Hill. Of course, I thank my husband. He has suffered cancer through a large part of my stay here over the 11 years. I thank him for believing in my work and inspiring me to carry on.

Also, I thank my EDA who supported me in everything I have done, especially John Feldsted and Kaz Malkiewicz. John Feldsted was the president of my EDA for three years and continues to do much to further the cause of the political side of what I do.

I thank all the people across the country for their prayers as I did my work to bring laws to this place to combat human trafficking. Those prayers mean a lot because first in my life is my God. He is my strength. Second is my family, and everything else comes underneath that.

There are three people who I have to recognize as well: Brian McConaghy of Ratanak, who is my brother in terms of fighting human trafficking here in Canada and worldwide; Jamie McIntosh, who started International Justice Mission; and Benjamin Perrin, who started The Future Group. It is like the group of three. These people have always been with me through the many years, even before I came to Parliament and certainly during the time that I spent here.

Most of all, I would like to thank the survivors of human trafficking. When I came here I had a vision to stop human trafficking. I had a vision to get laws through to protect the victims of human trafficking. I did put two laws through that made Canadian history, thanks to the grace of God. They are survivors like Timea Nagy, Natasha Falle, Bridget Perrier, Trisha Baptie, just to name a few. They are absolutely amazing young women.

Around this place, to my colleagues in the Conservative caucus and my colleagues across the way, there have been real friendships welded together because of the common good. I believe everyone in the House has the good of the country at heart.

There is a man who sat in our lobby for years, John Holtby. He was such an encouragement to me. He was a brilliant man who cared very deeply about the issues and about my work.

There is a young lady, Kelly Williams, who worked with me, and on me as a matter of fact, when I was chair of the health committee. She did a lot of work around the committees.

Of course, there are the security people, the restaurant people, the pages and all who make Parliament work.

When I stop to look back at why I came here, for me, I came to stop human trafficking in our country. If it was not for the survivors who use their bravery to speak out, if it was not for ministers, like the Minister of Justice, and others, I would never have been able to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish.

When I think about the leaders in this Parliament, I know there have been many who have been very strongly affected by the human trafficking issue here in our country and who stood up in this Parliament to protect the most vulnerable. I thank them for that.

I thank Susan Finlay, my prayer partner. She has been my prayer partner for years, and she has always been with me. In my down times and triumphant times, she was always there.

This Parliament is a place where we change the laws of the land. There are very talented decision makers in this place, and often we do not see the small things that are there. To me, especially, the small things but very important things and people are the people like my staff.

Joel Oosterman, my chief of staff, and his wife Kristy have been with me for a very long time. I love them like family. Marian Jaworski, who runs my constituency office, is just an amazing person. I have to say that those are the people who saw the vision with me and who helped me. Joel is one of the most talented writers I have ever come across. If anyone needs anything, even a kidney, ask Marian. He will find it. He is that kind of staff member. He is just an incredibly honest man who stands above many.

All these people come together for such a time as this, to stop human trafficking here in Canada. God rest her soul, my mother always said that we should leave the world a better place and I hope that, because I have been here, that has occurred.

I have to say that there are many laws we have here, such as Bill C-268, regarding mandatory minimum sentences for traffickers of children age 18 years and under. There is Bill C-310, where we reached the long arm of Canadian law into other countries when Canadian citizens or permanent residents go to traffic or exploit others. We can now bring them back to Canada.

My heart started to really look to leaving this place on December 6, 2014. On that day, we passed Bill C-36, on which I worked with the Minister of Justice. For the first time in Canadian history, the buying of sex is illegal in this country. Now, we are at a point where we can press the button and have a new start. At that point in my career, I knew I had to leave this place.

I knew I had to do something else, so I am working on my foundation, the Joy Smith Foundation. I will continue to do that, I believe, until the end of time. The foundation is going very well. I have had hundreds of lovely letters from around the country from victims who have said thanks and that the foundation has helped them to restart their lives. What could be better than that?

I have a book coming out before Christmas, called I Just Didn't Know. All of the proceeds will be going to my foundation. I really hope the book touches the hearts of Canadians and people across the country who read it, because it has real life stories in it. Brave survivors have agreed to tell their stories, put their pictures in it, and explain how traffickers are able to lure young people.

It is my very great honour to have served and to continue to serve my country in this great place, the Parliament of Canada. It is rare to have the privilege of doing that and it is rare to have met all of the people in my caucus who I call friends and who are astoundingly strong leaders and decision-makers in this country.

I thank God for the opportunity that I had here, and I look forward to rekindling and keeping those friendships along the way as I go on to my other career.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 26th, 2013 / 6:30 p.m.
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Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to support Bill C-452, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons). This is an important bill that would address a pressing issue. Human trafficking involves continuous violations of fundamental human rights whose protection forms the basis of our free and democratic society.

I would like to start by thanking the member of Parliament for Ahuntsic for bringing this pressing issue to the attention of the House again. As she knows, this is a very important issue for our government. Her previous bill, former Bill C-612, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), which proposed similar amendments, died on the order paper in 2011.

Before I turn to the proposals in the bill itself, I would like to make some general comments on the nature of human trafficking and its severe impacts on its victims, to underscore the importance of ensuring the strongest possible criminal justice response to this crime.

Traffickers force victims to provide labour or sexual services in circumstances where they believe their safety or the safety of someone known to them will be threatened if they fail to provide that labour or service. They are deprived of the very rights that underpin a free and democratic society. The reality is that victims suffer physical, sexual and emotional abuse, including threats of violence or actual harm to their loved ones. This abuse is compounded by their living and working conditions.

To further aggravate the problem, this type of criminal conduct is not something that just happens occasionally or on the margins of society. Rather it is widespread, as evidenced by the global revenues garnered by it, which are estimated to amount to as much as $10 billion U.S. per year. This puts human trafficking within the three top money makers for organized crime.

What are we doing about it? I am pleased to report that the government's response to this crime is strong and multi-faceted.

First, we have a virtual arsenal of criminal offences that apply to this reprehensible conduct.

In 2003, trafficking specific offences were added to the Criminal Code.

In 2010, a new offence of child trafficking was enacted through Bill C-268, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years), which was sponsored by myself, the member for Kildonan—St. Paul. This offence imposes mandatory minimum penalties on those who traffic persons under the age of 18.

In 2012, former Bill C-310, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), sponsored by myself, the member of Parliament for Kildonan—St. Paul, extended extra territorial jurisdiction for all Criminal Code trafficking offences and enacted an interpretive tool to assist the courts in interpreting the trafficking in persons provisions.

All of this is in addition to the trafficking specific offence contained in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, section 118, which prohibits transnational trafficking and the numerous Criminal Code offences that address traffic related conduct, such as forceable confinement, kidnapping, sexual assault and uttering threats, to give a few examples.

However, that is not all. In recognition of the multi-faceted nature of this problem, the government launched a national action plan to combat human trafficking on June 6, 2012. The action plan recognizes that a comprehensive response to human trafficking must involve efforts to ensure what we refer to as the 4 Ps: the protection of victims; the prosecution of offenders; the partnerships with key players; and, of course, the prevention of the crime, in the first place. All activities are coordinated through the human trafficking task force, which is led by Public Safety Canada.

This is, without a doubt, a comprehensive response to a complex problem, but more can always be done and where more can be done, more should be done, especially, when efforts serve to address a crime as insidious as human trafficking.

Bill C-452 proposes a number of reforms that would strengthen the response I have just described. It seeks to impose consecutive sentences for trafficking offences and any offence arising out of the same event or series of events.

The bill would also create a presumption that would assist prosecutors in proving the main human trafficking offence and it would require a sentencing court to order the forfeiture of an offender's property, unless he or she proved that the property was not proceeds of crime.

Although some amendments would be required to address specific legal concerns, Bill C-452 would undoubtedly strengthen the response to human trafficking and, as such, merits our support.

Legal concerns would have to be addressed. For example, the bill should not overlap with amendments that have already been enacted by the previous bill, such as the former Bill C-310, as this would cause confusion in the law. The bill should also avoid compromising the government's efforts to defend the living on the avails offence, paragraph 212(1)(j), along with other prostitution-related Criminal Code offences whose constitutionality is now before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Bedford case. The procuring provision, which Bill C-452 proposals would affect, contains the living on the avails offence.

However, these concerns and others should not detract from the positive contributions the bill would make if it were enacted. The legal concerns I have outlined can easily be addressed through amendments.

We must continue to be vigilant. We must continue to support legislative initiatives that would improve our ability to hold accountable those who exploit the vulnerabilities of others. The impact of human trafficking on its victims is almost impossible to comprehend. We cannot tolerate it. We must ensure that those who engage in such heinous conduct are brought to justice, that their punishment appropriately reflects their crime and that they are not permitted to reap the rewards gleaned from the suffering of others.

Toward that end, I ask all members in the House to join me in supporting Bill C-452. I look forward to examining and analyzing its proposals more deeply in the context of committee review. At that stage, amendments can be moved to ensure that the bill achieves its laudable objectives without creating any confusion or inconsistency in the law.

I am sure that we all agree that we can never do enough to combat human trafficking. I am grateful that Bill C-452 has provided us with yet another opportunity to do more.

Again, I thank the member for Ahuntsic for her attention to this very important bill. Certainly it has our full support on this side of the House.

May 30th, 2013 / 7:35 p.m.
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Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

I was surprised at that. I would have thought it would be the other way, or that it would help them to move into an urban area.

Claudette, you mentioned that you don't support trafficking and prostitution. I want to let you know that we certainly don't support that either. In fact, you might already know this, but our government passed Bill C-310, an anti-trafficking bill. It was an amendment to the Criminal Code to provide for stiffer sentences for extraterritorial offences. We have a very hard-working colleague on our side of the House who is always advocating against trafficking. I'm glad to hear that as well.

I'm not sure who mentioned that there was a lot of work done and a lot of reports, and you found out a lot of information on the missing aboriginal girls. Since 2006, the government has provided $205 million for the family violence program, so I'm assuming it didn't come from there.

Was that funding from Evidence to Action I and II or was that funding from somewhere else?

May 6th, 2013 / 5:30 p.m.
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Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Nathalie Levman

And you're absolutely right. In fact, I was involved in the original drafting of the provision, and this wording was in the original drafting, I think, unfortunately, by error. It was removed by Bill C-310 when C-310 was enacted. It just was something that the drafters didn't catch.

So I'm sure everyone will be very grateful to you for this correction. It's going back to how it was originally drafted.

May 6th, 2013 / 5:25 p.m.
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Robert Goguen Conservative Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Okay, Mr. Chair.

There are subclauses 3(1) and 3(2), and what we're proposing to do is delete 3(2) so there will no longer be a 3(1), there will just be a clause 3. Those are the two parts of it.

Now I'll give you the rationale for why we're proposing to delete subclause 3(2).

This clause would create a new definition of exploitation for the purposes of trafficking offences, which would include specified means such as the use of force, fraud, deception, and abuse of authority, or a situation of vulnerability. Subclause 3(2) is vague and includes concepts that have not been interpreted by Canadian law, and is therefore likely to confuse. Moreover, the issue that this amendment proposes to address was already clarified by Joy Smith's Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), which enacted an interpretive provision that stipulates factors the court may consider in determining whether an accused exploited another person for the purposes of the trafficking provisions.

These factors include whether the accused used force, or deception, or whether the accused abused a position of trust, power, or authority.

May 6th, 2013 / 4:55 p.m.
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Robert Goguen Conservative Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Very good, Mr. Chair.

This is on subclause 2(1). We're proposing that subclause 2(1) of the bill be deleted. This clause proposed to include the phrase “in a domestic or international context” under “Trafficking in persons”. That's under section 279.01.

The objective of subclause 2(1) is unclear and could cause interpretation problems. If its objective is to ensure that the offences apply to Canadians who commit trafficking offences abroad, the Criminal Code does this already as a result of Joy Smith's bill, Bill C-310, enacted on June 2012, which extended extraterritorial jurisdiction in this context. If the objective is to ensure that the offence applies to trafficking cases involving the crossing of Canada's borders, as well as those that take place entirely within Canada, the offence already applies to both of these scenarios.

Further, the proposed amendment would result in inconsistent treatment between the main trafficking offence and the three others.

May 6th, 2013 / 4:05 p.m.
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Naomi Krueger Manager, Deborah's Gate, Salvation Army

I would just say, on behalf of the victims whom we serve on a day-to-day basis at Deborah's Gate, that certainly the efforts of Mrs. Smith and Bills C-268 and C-310 have created opportunities to better support these victims. Our message here today is that we want to continue to see these types of provisions created for law enforcement officers that reinforce the work we do on the front line. In the past year, we've been in court with two separate witnesses who have testified and been disheartened by the response at the justice level, because of a lack of understanding and a lack of ability on the part of the courts to respond from a criminal justice perspective.

Certainly, we would support any efforts to create opportunities for our residents to accomplish the goals and dreams they have for themselves, for them to be able to be empowered and be restored, and for them to be able to complete high school and to be able do all of the things they want for themselves now that they've been able to be free and to experience what life looks like without exploitation.

May 6th, 2013 / 3:40 p.m.
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Michael Maidment Area Director, Public Relations and Development, Federal Government Liaison Officer, Salvation Army

Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members. My name is Michael Maidment. I'm the federal government liaison officer for the Salvation Army in Canada.

I'd first like to thank you for the opportunity to present to you this afternoon on the issue of human trafficking and, more specifically, on Bill C-452.

I'd like to begin by commending Madame Mourani for her work in this important legislation and for her commitment in presenting complex solutions to the issue of human trafficking in this country. I am delighted today to be joined by Naomi Krueger. Naomi is the manager of one of Canada's first shelters dedicated exclusively to caring for the victims of human trafficking. Deborah's Gate, which opened in 2009, aims to provide confidential, professional, and culturally sensitive community-support networks for survivors of this terrible crime.

The case management team at Deborah's Gate coordinates appointments with law-enforcement officials, immigration officials, legal counsel, trauma counsellors, and other service providers. Additional programs provide residents of the shelter with access to income assistance and/or sustainable income, addiction-treatment programs, health and dental care, and community-integration programs.

I want to frame my comments this afternoon by saying that the Salvation Army appears before you today in our capacity as Canada's largest social-service provider and with our 130 years of service-delivery experience, which includes, of course, programs such as Deborah's Gate. I hope to convey the perspective of our organization, as the leading social-service provider, on this legislation.

First off, I want to say that the Salvation Army wholly supports legislation that strengthens the ability of the criminal justice system to respond to the crime of human trafficking. Just as we supported Bill C-268 and Bill C-310, we, too, support Bill C-452. We believe the bill will provide law-enforcement officials with more tools to prosecute those who commit this heinous crime and that it is essential to preventing future victims.

With specific reference to the proposed amendments in the bill, we believe that allowing consecutive sentencing for offences is positive in two ways. First, a significant sentence is important to victims of human trafficking in so far as it provides a period of safety during which a victim doesn't need to worry about their trafficker being at large. This period is critical to a victim's ability to access restorative resources and engage in a long-term healing process.

The effects of violence and exploitation on a victim do not disappear when the trafficker is arrested. Instead, fear, anxiety, and hopelessness often increase, at least until the victim knows the trafficker will be held in custody for a designated period of time.

Second, we think this proposed amendment would strengthen the deterrent for perpetrators of human trafficking who believe the financial gain of the exploitation outweighs the loss experienced during shorter prison sentences. One such victim and resident of our shelter estimated that her trafficker earned $620,000 over a two-year period through her sexual exploitation.

I would like to raise one area of consideration regarding this amendment, that we're seeing more and more situations where victims who were once trafficked themselves have turned to aiding their traffickers with procuring and grooming other victims. This is generally a strategy that victims of human trafficking use to improve their own circumstances in an attempt to escape the exploitation they have undergone. Providing the courts with flexibility in the application of consecutive sentencing may prevent victims of human trafficking from being punished by the criminal justice system for attempting to escape from their exploitation.

With reference to adding the term “domestic” to the charge of human trafficking within the Criminal Code, the Salvation Army feels that this proposed amendment provides important clarity to the code. Human trafficking is a domestic issue. We've already heard that this afternoon. Yet the myth that trafficking is exclusively an international issue persists among many Canadians. Accurately describing human trafficking as a domestic issue will aid in correcting this long-term myth.

Deborah's Gate opened in 2009. Over half its residents have been victims of domestic trafficking, Canadian residents trafficked within Canadian cities, most often for sexual exploitation by Canadian men. Furthermore, our organization has found that women in our shelter systems were targeted as children as young as 12 years old, many from reserves in northern B.C., Alberta, and Manitoba, both by traffickers with gang affiliation and by individuals working alone.

The change this bill offers—the reversal of the burden of proof for the charge of human trafficking—is an important recognition of the devastating impact that sexual exploitation has on its victims. This reversal will not only make it easier to prosecute traffickers but will also protect victims who are struggling with the effects of being exploited.

With reference to extending the human trafficking charges to those who harbour a person who has been exploited, the Salvation Army is pleased that this proposed legislation considers the reality that many different individuals can play a role in the crime of human trafficking without ever meeting the conditions set forth by the legal definition.

While many individuals can share responsibility for holding a victim captive, it is rare that all parties involved are prosecuted. In our experience, traffickers are aided by multiple associates, each of which plays a role in facilitating their exploitation. While none of the associates may profit directly from a victim's exploitation, they supervise the victim's sexual services, assault victims when they fail to comply with their traffickers' orders, and coordinate travel from one abuser to another.

The proposed amendment would better equip law-enforcement officers to respond to the severity and complexity of trafficking operations holding all those involved accountable for the crime in its entirety.

It should be noted, though, that while this amendment in general enables effective enforcement of the offence, unintended consequences of the wording and the absence of evidence to the contrary may arise.

In particular, information that victims communicate to the police, health care practitioners, and other front-line service providers while they are in a state of fear or as a means to survival could be used as evidence to contradict exploitation or facilitation of exploitation at a later date. Victims have repeatedly reported that they were at times coached on what to say when questioned by authority figures.

Many times this coaching has led to the gathering of contradictory statements that could be used as evidence to the contrary if needed. A provision preventing the use of statements made by victims while in a state of trauma or coercion might help to avoid this unintended consequence.

In conclusion, while it is important to strengthen the tools available to prosecute those who commit the terrible crime of human trafficking, it is equally important, if not more so, to consider strengthening our ability to prevent human trafficking from occurring in the first place.

Thank you again for the opportunity to address you this afternoon and for your commitment to eradicating human trafficking in Canada.

May 1st, 2013 / 5 p.m.
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Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Thank you very much.

Thank you very much for coming to committee today. We appreciate it.

As you know, we're talking about human trafficking. Research is showing us that it's primarily underage youths who are duped and deceived into servicing men, and if they don't do it, they get beaten, raped, shot up with drugs. I've worked with victims for 14 years now, so that's the way it happens.

As you know, in this country, Bill C-49 was the first bill, in 2005, that addressed human trafficking. They got one conviction, Imani Nakpangi. He trafficked a 15-and-a-half-year-old girl. You know about that one. Then Bill C-268 and Bill C-310 came in, in 2010 and 2012. Now we have this bill before us today.

I ran out of time on the other session, but this is why we don't have all the hard statistics, because the bills are so new. They are brand new in Canada.

You mentioned something that I thought was so relevant. I want to talk to Ms. Duval. You talked about human dignity. You talked about the right for people to be free, the right for them to make their own choices. Can you tell me, in terms of this bill of Maria Mourani's, why this is so important to help the victims of human trafficking?