VICTORIA - Building on its leadership role in combating human trafficking in Canada, B.C. today unveiled a three-year action plan to prevent human trafficking and identify and protect victims of trafficking.
BC's Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking provides a clear roadmap for priority actions over the next three years to prevent the trafficking of youth, vulnerable workers and Aboriginal youth and women.
The plan, developed by the Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (OCTIP), includes the following action items:
- Raise awareness about human trafficking to increase understanding of the presence of this crime in B.C.
- Provide training to service providers and frontline personnel in B.C. to identify trafficked persons and respond appropriately and with culturally-relevant services.
- Empower and build capacity in local B.C. communities (including Aboriginal communities) to prevent human trafficking and provide assistance to trafficked persons.
- Increase co-ordination of services to address the unique needs of trafficked persons.
- Increase research, policy and legislative responses to human trafficking in B.C.
The plan is the result of consultations with over 130 stakeholders throughout the province who contributed their perspectives on preventing and responding to human trafficking. In addition, a number of ministries, including the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and the Ministry of Children and Family Development, participated in the development of the plan in order to ensure a cohesive and collaborative approach as it is implemented.
To release the plan, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond joined frontline staff at Fraser Health's Surrey Memorial Hospital - a recent recipient of a civil forfeiture grant to combat human trafficking. The $18,000 grant will be used by Fraser Health to develop tool-kits to train and assist emergency department staff to recognize and respond to the signs of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in hospital emergency department settings.
In 2007, British Columbia established OCTIP to develop and provide overall co-ordination of British Columbia's strategy to address human trafficking. OCTIP works in partnerships with all levels of government, law enforcement agencies, community organizations and Crown prosecutors to protect trafficked persons and prevent human trafficking.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General -
"It's absolutely vital we continue our fight against human trafficking and bring the individuals who engage in this crime to justice. BC's Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking provides a blueprint to combat this problem over the next three years and builds on B.C.'s success as a national leader in addressing human trafficking."
Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development -
"We're not immune to this problem in British Columbia and we know that women and girls, particularly Aboriginal women and girls, are at greater risk. B.C.'s action plan provides an opportunity to ensure culturally appropriate services are in place to support the victims of this crime and ensures ministries across government are working together to prevent human trafficking in B.C."
Rosalind Currie, director, Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons -
"I am very grateful to all our community partners for their input into the plan. I look forward to continuing our strong working relationships with both government and non-government partners to implement the plan over the next three years."
Jassy Bindra, human trafficking coordinator for BC/Yukon, RCMP -
"The RCMP greatly values the assistance and partnership of B.C.'s Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons. OCTIP has been one of our most trusted partners in the fight against human trafficking in B.C."
Tara Wilke, forensic nurse examiner, human trafficking team, Surrey Memorial Hospital -
"We know that women and girls who are trafficked are accessing our emergency departments. As forensic nurses we want to support and educate the Fraser Health emergency department health care providers in recognizing the signs and symptoms of trafficking and sexual exploitation. Our education goal for the emergency staff will enhance recognition and improve care for our vulnerable patients. This civil forfeiture grant will enable us to educate, bring life to this issue and ultimately improve the lives of men, women and children."
- Earlier this month, a number of community groups in B.C. received a total of $145,418 in civil forfeiture grants to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
- Human trafficking involves the recruiting, harbouring and controlling of a person for the purpose of exploitation - most commonly in Canada for labour or sexual exploitation.
- Traffickers use a variety of means such as threats, lies, coercion, abuse and violence to gain and keep control of a person in order to exploit them.
- OCTIP has assisted in more than 160 cases involving potentially trafficked persons since July 2007, providing help with temporary residence permits, coordinating services for trafficked persons and advising community agencies on how to best meet the needs of trafficked persons.
- OCTIP operates a toll-free, 24/7 telephone line to assist trafficked persons to obtain services in a number of languages at 1 888 712-7974.
- B.C. has the most accessible training in Canada for service providers involved in combating human trafficking and assisting trafficked persons.
- In June 2011, OCTIP and its federal counterparts (Public Safety Canada and Justice Canada) launched Canada's first online training course on human trafficking and in December 2012 it was translated into French to reach an even broader number of Canadians.
- This innovative training enhances the ability of first responders, service providers and the public to identify, assist, and protect victims.
To learn more about BC's Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, please visit: http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/octip/about.htm
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice