Hotel staff can stop Windsor from being a human trafficking hotbed, advocates say
More than 90 per cent of human trafficking victims in this country are Canadian-born
A major tourism conference in Windsor this week will be told how hotels can help stop human trafficking.
Tania Ferlin, a member of Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking, will be leading a session about the exploitative practice Tuesday during the 2018 Ontario Tourism Summit at Caesars Windsor.
"A lot of people have this misconception that trafficking victims come from another country, and sometimes they do, but here in Ontario, the majority of the victims are Canadian," said Ferlin, adding the average age of victims is 15.
'How can we solve a problem if we don't know it exists?'
More than 90 per cent of human trafficking victims in this country are Canadian-born women, girls and boys. Typically, they are recruited into sex work by young men, with whom they form dependent relationships.
Ferlin works for a major hotel chain, and said she's heard of traffickers recruiting boys and girls as young as 11 and 12. She said the most significant "missing piece" in addressing the country's trafficking crisis is a lack of awareness.
"How can we solve a problem if we don't know it exists?"
She said it is imperative for employees to receive adequate training which can help them identify victims of trafficking who have been brought to their hotel.
"A lot of people have this misconception that trafficking victims come from another country, and sometimes they do, but here in Ontario, the majority of the victims are Canadian.- Tania Ferlin, member of Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking
Hotels, or any other tourism-based organization, can sign the ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) code of conduct to "commit to training their associates on human trafficking and to report it."
Ferlin said many hotel chains have signed the code of conduct, but not all have, and many smaller, independent motels are not on board. But that doesn't mean hotels are the only place where people need to keep alert.
"We know the conventions, city-wide events and conferences increase demand for human trafficking ... Anywhere where there's large congregations of people."
Hear more from Tania Ferlin on the CBC's Windsor Morning: