Liberals announce new human trafficking strategy and name special advisor

The federal government has promised to spend tens of millions of dollars to combat human trafficking and named a new special adviser to the government.

Retired RCMP assistant commissioner Shirley Cuillierrier named advisor

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced tens of millions of dollars in funding to combat human trafficking on Wednesday in Regina. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The federal government is putting up $57.22 million over the next five years as part of its strategy to combat human trafficking in Canada.

Ralph Goodale, Regina MP and minister of Public Safety, made the announcement in Regina Wednesday. 

"We want to ensure that prosecutions are more successful, that the crime is reported more often, that the victims and survivors have the supports they need to be able to escape the evil circumstances in which they find themselves," Goodale said.

Former assistant commissioner Shirley Cuillierrier was also named a special advisor to the government.

"I have seen the distressing consequences of human trafficking firsthand through my work and as a community advocate," Cuillierrier said in a news release.

The money will be used to:

  • Develop a national case management standard. 
  • Better detect and respond to suspected cases in Canada's immigration system.
  • Develop a program aimed at vulnerable people through Women and Gender Equality Canada.

The money is also meant to ensure that supply chains used by Public Services and Procurement Canada are free of human trafficking, exploitation and forced labour.

"If a company is found guilty of that crime, they would be banned for 10 years from competing for government contracts," Carla Qualtrough, minister of public services and procurement, said. 

If the offence falls short of criminal, the ministry has tools in place to give consequences and to work with the company in question to "decontaminate" their supply chain.

The strategy is expected to cost $10.28 million per year to maintain after the initial five years.

The money announced Wednesday is on top of the $14.51 million over five years the Liberals pledged in the 2018 federal budget, including $2.89 million a year ongoing for the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline for victims and survivors in need of services and support.

Goodale also said that private sector industries like airlines and hotels said they want to help as well. 

"The services that they provide can be used and abused for trafficking purposes and there are a great many players in the private sector who are prepared to participate [and] to be partners," he said.

There were 340 incidents of human trafficking in Canada in 2016, the highest rate recorded since comparable data became available in 2009. Most victims are women and girls.

Officials say Wednesday's announcement comes in the wake of consultations that began a year ago.

The federal Conservatives attacked the Liberals shortly after the announcement was made.

"For the last three-and-a-half years, human traffickers have received the message that fighting their crimes is not a priority," Pierre Paul-Hus, shadow minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, said in an emailed statement.

Paul-Hus said the Conservatives, if elected to government, "will deal swiftly and firmly with human trafficking" with their own plan, dubbed A Safer Canada.


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