The Canadian government plans to create a special task force to investigate and prosecute cases of human trafficking. Currently that responsibility is spread throughout several departments and agencies.
The announcement was made yesterday in Ottawa by the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, and the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women.
The National Action Plan will see the formation of the first integrated team of law enforcement officials to deal exclusively with the problem of human trafficking. Members of the team, comprising RCMP officers and Canadian Border Services agents, will received enhanced training and more resources will be deployed in communities that are vulnerable to this crime. The government also promises there will be more coordination between 18 departments of the federal government, Canada and other countries, and the federal and provincial governments.
While human trafficking is most often thought of as relating to forced prostitution, it also includes human slavery where people are enticed to come to Canada on the false promise of a job. The traffickers then confiscate their passports and force them to work for little or no wages in horrendous conditions.
As well as covering victims who are forced or tricked into coming to Canada, human trafficking also includes the forced movement of persons from place to place within the country.
Toews said, The Harper Government is committed to keeping our streets and communities safe. Our Government is firmly committed to the global fight against human trafficking and is stepping up its efforts to address this heinous crime in Canada and abroad, whose victims tragically include young Canadian women and girls.
At the present time, the RCMP know of 23 cases in Canada where charges have been laid and convictions obtained for human trafficking and related offences. There are now 59 cases before the courts involving 98 accused persons.
The Winnipeg Free Press reports that although human trafficking became a specific crime in 2005, it wasn't until five years later that CPC MP Joy Smith introduced the idea of a national strategy by way of a motion. The motion was passed unanimously in Parliament.
According to the Globe and Mail, the Conservatives only announced the strategy after pressure from the United States. The newspaper quotes from a U.S. State Department report on "trafficking in persons" as saying, The government [of Canada] lacked a national strategy to combat trafficking and limited coordination between the federal and provincial governments on anti-trafficking efforts continued to be a challenge.
The Conservatives have designated $25 million in new money over four years to fund the plan.