Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this important concurrence motion moved by the member for Calgary Skyview. I would like to thank her for her work and the status of women committee for its work on this important issue.
Today we are discussing the recognition of February 22 as Canada's national human trafficking awareness day. Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that turns people into objects to be used and exploited. It is vicious, profitable and growing, and it is happening right here in our country and across the globe. It takes on many forms such as sex trafficking, forced labour, forced marriages, organ trafficking and cybersex trafficking.
While exploitation and slavery have existed for all of humanity, so has the responsibility to abolish it. In the 8th century BC, the prophet Isaiah brought God's words to the people of his time, saying they should:
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
The responsibility to stand for justice and exploitation is a responsibility for all of us.
Here in Canada, human trafficking remains far too common. Within our ridings and across the nation, each day, more and more people fall victim to traffickers in Canada. I often say that human trafficking is happening within 10 miles of where one lives. Even in my large rural, northern Alberta riding, human trafficking is taking place. Last year, the RCMP charged a 30-year-old man from La Crete, Alberta, with trafficking of a minor.
In Canada, 93% of Canada's human trafficking victims come from within Canada. The predominant form of human trafficking in Canada is sex trafficking. We know that in Canada, 97% of sex trafficking victims are women and girls. Three-quarters of these victims are under the age of 25. Fifty percent of these victims are indigenous, and 75% of those in prostitution were forced into it as children.
Many examples of forced labour also exist in Canada. Victims of human trafficking can be found in restaurants, in the agriculture industry, in the mining sector, as live-in caregivers, or in the manufacturing industry. Just two years ago here in Ontario, over 20 men from Mexico were rescued from forced labour within the hospitality industry, enslaved in plain sight within hotels.
Globally, more than 40 million people are in some form of slavery today. That is more than the population of our country and more than ever in human history. Worldwide, slavery is a multi-billion dollar industry that generates more than $150 billion annually. These global and national numbers are truly terrifying. It is incumbent upon each of us to help end it.
That is why the designation of February 22 as Canada's national human trafficking awareness day by this House would matter. This is important because ending human trafficking cannot be done merely by governments alone. It requires the participation of all of us.
By adopting this motion, this House would not only be recognizing February 22, but also encouraging Canadians to hear from victims and survivors of human trafficking, raise awareness of the magnitude of modern-day slavery here in Canada and around the world, and to take steps to be able to identity and combat human trafficking.
As a national day of human trafficking evokes in all of us the responsibility to learn, educate and act, the words of this motion point to this individual and collective responsibility as a nation. That is why the all-party group to end modern-day slavery here in Canada, the APPG, has been hard at work to get February 22 designated as the national day of awareness. This date recognizes the unanimous adoption by this House of former MP Joy Smith's Motion No. 153, which happened back in 2007. That motion condemned the trafficking of women and girls, and called for Canada to combat the trafficking of persons worldwide. Joy Smith was the trailblazer in the fight to end human trafficking and is an inspiration to many of us today.
The APPG also consulted organizations and survivors from across Canada and the selection of February 22 was close to unanimous. The APPG co-chairs have produced motions since 2018 to designate February 22 as a national day of human trafficking awareness, and members will notice that currently there are three motions on the Order Paper tabled by Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Bloc and Green MPs, which is all five parties.
I would like to thank my fellow co-chairs for their relentless work: the member for Scarborough—Guildwood, the member for Shefford and independent Senator Miville-Dechêne. Each has worked hard to advance the recognition of February 22 as national human trafficking awareness day. I was delighted to see the status of women committee improve our wording by adding the necessity to listen to victims and survivors. Their voices are critical.
I would like to share with this House, and all Canadians, the words of Timea Nagy, a tenacious Canadian survivor and hero, who said, “Having a national human trafficking awareness day would mean that we are no longer invisible to society and to the Canadian people. It would mean that more people would finally learn about this terrible crime and how to protect their children. It would mean that we are taking serious [action]...to eradicate this in our lifetime.”
An awareness day for human trafficking would bring us together as a nation to end modern-day slavery. It is a fight that unites us across political lines, and despite religious beliefs and geographical divides. Working together on this actually works.
We have seen this right here in Parliament with Bill S-216, an act to enact the modern slavery act. This bill is a result of the work of my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood. It was introduced in the Senate by our Senate co-chair and supported by all APPG chairs. If we, a Conservative, a Liberal, a Bloc Québécois and an independent senator, can come together, I have great confidence in our country to unite and abolish human trafficking.
I want to challenge Canadians with four things they could do on Canada's national human trafficking awareness day: learn, share, act and support. Number one is to learn more about it. What does it looks like in one's community or province? Would Canadians be able to identify a victim of human trafficking? Do they know of the national human trafficking tip line? All Canadians should visit The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking website to learn more about awareness that can lead to action.
Number two is to share, to tell other people about it. Joy Smith always says that, when it comes to human trafficking, education is our greatest weapon. Canadians can organize webinars for their churches, communities or workplaces. I would be happy to speak at that webinar, and I am sure that any of the APPG co-chairs would as well.
Number three is to act, to take steps to eliminate one's role in the fuel for the demand of slavery. Do Canadians know who harvested their coffee or the clothes they buy? Do they know that looking at pornography likely involves victims of sex trafficking? Canadians should make sure the choices in their lives reduce the demand for human trafficking.
Number four is to support. There are incredible organizations across this country that are fuelled by passionate individuals who are hard at work to end human trafficking and support survivors. They would benefit from people's time and support.
Recognizing human trafficking awareness day on February 22 would give voice to survivors, increase awareness, and unite Canadians in their efforts to abolish human trafficking and modern-day slavery in our time. I want to thank all the individuals who have worked tirelessly with me over the last number of years to bring forward an awareness day for human trafficking in this country and all of the organizations that work hard in their communities to end modern-day slavery.
One of the organizations I would like to highlight is the #NotInMyCity campaign headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. The ambassador for that program is a country music singer everyone may have heard of named Paul Brandt, who has done amazing work in bringing together all sectors of Canadian society to end human trafficking in Calgary. One of its really cool partners is the Calgary International Airport. One of the universities is also on board and helps out. It has been amazing project, and I want to congratulate them on that.
The other organization that I would like to recognize is called CEASE. It is located in Edmonton, Alberta. It does amazing work helping trafficked victims get back to a normal life and reintegrate into Canadian society.
Finally, I want to thank the member for Calgary Skyview for her advocacy on this and her work at the committee to bring this forward. When we all work together, we can accomplish great things. I want to thank the House and colleagues I have worked with across party lines to bring this forward.