Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on this private member's bill because I think there is no one in this chamber who would disagree with the concern that trafficking in persons is a serious problem in Canada. New Democrats will be supporting this bill and sending it to committee for further study, but we have some cautions here in this debate.
The first of those, of course, is that quite often one says trafficking in people, presumably they are talking about trafficking for sexual purposes. That is a serious problem that we need to address but trafficking also has many other forms in Canada. The one that tends to get neglected the most is forced labour. We have people who were brought here from outside of the country who are forced to work in terrible conditions at less than minimum wage and are deprived of their opportunities to pursue other ways to make a living or to get their rights recognized in Canada. When we are talking about this bill which intends to amend the definition of trafficking, we have to make sure at committee that whatever definition we ultimately adopt covers the full range of those nefarious practices of trafficking from sex trafficking to forced labour and everything in between.
My second caution is that if we are, as this bill proposes, changing the very definition of trafficking, we have to be very careful not to have unintended consequences from making a change in the definition. Here I am reflecting the views of the Canadian alliance for sex workers, who are very concerned that changing this definition will have unintended consequences on sex workers, which will make their working conditions more difficult and less safe.
At committee we are going to need to hear from those who are most impacted by this possible change to the Criminal Code. That will include sex workers. We will also need to hear from advocates for those who have been subjected to forced labour. The committee is going to need to take its time in making sure we can get those witnesses who have real life experience of trafficking to bring to the committee, to make sure we do not inadvertently, by changing the definition, exclude people from the definition who should be covered or cast the net too widely and include too many people in that definition of trafficking.
I have said this before on this bill, and I will say it again, that we know what actually works in combatting trafficking. That is additional enforcement resources. Many police forces simply do not have the resources available to devote to trafficking cases that they would like to have and that they need. Many municipal forces have established special units to deal with trafficking. Those provinces that have provincial police forces have done so, but quite often they lack adequate resources. We need to pay attention in talking about a narrow definitional change in the Criminal Code, to this question of the resources for enforcement, because we know that is very effective.
The second thing that is very effective in combatting trafficking is providing resources at the community level so that those who have been trafficked or are being trafficked can escape from the trafficking and providing safe passage for them out of those situations. Again, that is largely a question of resources for those community-based organizations that provide those services and those exit ramps for those who are actually being trafficked.
I do believe it is a complex situation that is being addressed by a very simple bill, so it is going to behoove the justice committee to take a lot of time to make sure, as I said, that we actually cover the full scope of trafficking in Canada and that we do not inadvertently include people who have not been trafficked in that definition, and that we hear from those who will be most affected by those changes at committee.
With that I will conclude my remarks for today. We will be supporting sending this bill to committee.