First and foremost, one of the biggest problems in this country is that we have no national data collection mechanisms, so law enforcement is working very hard on this with very little resources. Every year, they're told to do more with less. We have been in communication with law enforcement across the country. I can tell you that the incidents of human trafficking they're finding—and those are only those incidents that come to their attention—show that an extensive number of underage girls are being trafficked. That data is incredibly important.
However, law enforcement statistics are collected by the individual police services. They are collected in slightly different ways, maybe not using the same criteria. The problem is that you can't make comparisons between those statistics across the country. We need a national data collection mechanism that will allow us to collect this data on a realistic basis.
At the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, one of the ways that we see is to implement a national human trafficking hotline. The U.S. has been successful in doing this for 12 years. Also, the Polaris project in the U.S. has assisted in implementing the Mexican hotline and the hotline in the U.K. This allows an independent organization to receive calls from victims and to provide them with a centralized, localized response right off the bat. It will also allow them to refer these individuals for services, and get them the help they need at that instance, or refer them to the services they are requesting at the time. It also allows for the collection of that data, and it allows members of the public to report incidents.
As for a national action plan, I should tell you that the federal national action plan expired in June of 2016, so technically we don't have a national action plan here with a national strategy. We only have four provinces across the country with provincial strategies on human trafficking. There has been a recognition by the federal Department of Public Safety that we do need a new national action plan. I think that's going to require a coordinated, integrated strategy between the federal government, the provincial governments, and municipal governments as well, because trafficking is happening in all of those jurisdictions. It really needs to be supported through proper resource allocation to allow the addressing of realities and challenges facing community-based organizations that are working in this area, and also for law enforcement that needs additional resources to investigate these incidents.