Madam Speaker, human trafficking is a heinous crime and a human rights offence. Our government is committed to strengthening its efforts to combat human trafficking and better protect its victims, who are among our society's most vulnerable.
We are proud to be one of the first countries to ratify, in 2002, the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. This is one of the three protocols under the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, also known as the Palermo convention. The protocol articulates the most widely accepted international framework to address human trafficking.
It is important to bear in mind that the Criminal Code's human trafficking offences go beyond the minimum legal requirements imposed by the Palermo protocol. For instance, the Criminal Code criminalizes broader human trafficking-related conduct than what is required by the protocol, and imposes penalties up to life imprisonment for certain circumstances. Furthermore, the main trafficking offence does not require proof that the recruitment, transportation or harbouring was effected through illicit means.
Human trafficking is not only difficult to find; it is an incredibly complex crime to prove, with arms reaching into the financial sector, organized crime, law enforcement and beyond. However, its under-the-radar nature makes it more important that we are not complacent. We are aware that 95% of human trafficking victims in Canada were female, 70% were under the age of 25 and one-quarter were under the age of 18.
The Government of Canada is taking action to combat this crime both domestically and abroad. We recently announced the new national strategy to combat human trafficking, a whole-of-government approach that brings together federal initiatives under one strategic framework. The framework aligns with the internationally recognized pillars of prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership. The comprehensive national strategy is supported by an investment of $57 million over five years and $10 million ongoing.
It is important to note that the national strategy builds on existing federal anti-human trafficking initiatives, which have continued since the national action plan to combat human trafficking came to an end in 2016. We are proud that the new national strategy includes a new pillar of empowerment to ensure that there is a greater focus on enhancing support services to victims and survivors affected by this crime.
Under the new empowerment pillar, the Government of Canada will soon launch a survivor-led advisory committee. This committee will provide a formal platform to hear views and experiences of victims and survivors to help inform our efforts in combatting this crime. Through the prevention pillar, the government will seek to increase public awareness of human trafficking and build capacity in strategic areas to prevent human trafficking from occurring in Canada and internationally.
Canada will also continue to protect victims and potential victims from this crime, including through supporting organizations that provide critical services to victims and survivors. We will coordinate with law enforcement outreach operations to proactively identify potential victims in human trafficking. We will also enhance compliance under the temporary foreign workers program.
New initiatives under the national strategy will focus on a victim-centric criminal justice system, while building on the efforts to prosecute offenders. The national strategy will strengthen partnerships to ensure a collaborative and coordinated national response to human trafficking.