British Columbia

B.C. human trafficking office funding slashed

The B.C. office devoted to fighting human trafficking has been drastically reduced, prompting outcry from victims' advocates who fear more people will suffer while criminals will benefit.

The B.C. office devoted to fighting human trafficking has been drastically reduced, prompting outcry from victims' advocates who fear more people will suffer while criminals will benefit.

The province is shuttering the Victoria wing of the Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons, slashing hundreds of thousands from its budget, eliminating its top official and reducing full-time staff to two people.

Benjamin Perrin, a law professor at the University of British Columbia who is an expert on human trafficking, said he was informed last week of the cuts by then-executive director Robin Pike.

Perrin said he confirmed Wednesday with the Ministry of Public Safety that the remaining budget is only $300,000, which he describes as hardly more than the dollar value of a single human trafficking victim to the trafficker.

The ministry notes online that Canada is both a transit and destination point for the crime, and Vancouver is considered a port of "major concern" by the U.S. State Department.

In May, a West Vancouver woman was charged with human trafficking  on allegations she lured an African woman to Canada and then forced her to work up to 18 hours a day as a domestic servant.

A spokeswoman for the ministry of public safety, which ran the Victoria office, said the office is being rolled into another branch of the ministry that has almost 100 staff members dedicated to victims of crime and violence against women.