London fight against sex trafficking gets funding boost

Four London agencies will get provincial funding to help stop sex-trafficking of women along the Hwy. 401 corridor.

Four London agencies will split more than $1 million to help victims of human trafficking

(Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star)

Four London agencies will get provincial funding to help stop sex-trafficking of women along the Hwy. 401 corridor. 

The local money is part of an $18.6 million injection to 44 agencies across the province for programs that help prevent human trafficking and support survivors. 

It's part of the province's Strategy to End Human Trafficking. 

In London, here's how the money will be divided up and spent: 

  • $342,850 to Addiction Services of Thames Valley to support programming for women who were trafficked. 
  • $52,712 to the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians for a three-day training forum and workshop that brings together social service workers from First Nations from across Ontario to learn about human trafficking. 
  • $436,179 to London Abused Women's Centre for crisis response and services, counseling and advocacy for family members of those who are being or have been trafficked. 
  • $274,217 to Atlohsa Native Family Healing Services to the anti human-trafficking team that will coordinate a survivors' circle, education, outreach and prevention and intervention programs. 

London a sex-trafficking hub

Ontario is a major centre for human trafficking in Canada, the province has said, with more than two-thirds of Canadian cases centered here. 

London is a popular destination for sex traffickers because of its proximity to Hwy. 401, the American border and Toronto. 

"Some people may be shocked to learn that human trafficking takes place in Ontario, but it's no surprise to our partners who have been working with survivors for years," said Dr. Helena Jaczek, minister of community and social services. 

"This support means specialized staff and resources will be available to help survivors move through trauma so they can live freely and in control of their own lives." 

In London, the Abused Women's Centre is leading the Phoenix Anti-Trafficking Project, collaborating with the three other agencies that got funding as well as 13 others to provide co-ordinated, long-term support for victims and their families. 

"Given its proximity to the 401, London is both a destination city and recruitment city for sexual exploitation," said Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women's Centre. 

"Parents are losing their daughters and girls and women are losing their futures. The Phoenix Project allows us to provide exploited women and girls, along with their families, hope and help."