Quebec injects $3 million to fight sexual exploitation of runaway teens
LAVAL – Quebec’s youth protection and public security ministers unveiled new measures to tackle teen prostitution on Tuesday morning.
A new, five-year $3 million project called Prévention Jeunesse is designed to increase communication between all sides in the world of youth protection.
“They will work together as one single team to prevent and whenever they feel that one person or young woman in particular will be at risk, they will intervene on a very personal level, altogether as a team,”said Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux.
The announcement comes one week after the Quebec government appointed an auditor to investigate a rash of runaways at a Laval youth centre.
Five girls have gone missing in recent weeks and police are still searching for 17-year-old Vanessa Ticas, who could be in another province.
Laval police are welcoming the new tools and hope it will help officers track down and prevent runaways.
“We are going to have an agent de liaison so it’s going to be very good for us because we’ll have the same contact everywhere,”said Laval Police Chief Pierre Brochet.
New money will help, according to the union representing workers at the Laval youth centre.
But, the union pointed out if the total investment is split among the province’s 12 youth centres, it could amount to a quarter of a million dollars for each youth centre, a mere drop in the bucket according to critics.
“It took a major crisis for this government to move half an inch in the right direction” said Jean-Francois Lisée, MNA for Rosemont.
The Parti Québécois blames the government for turning a blind eye to the problem by ignoring previous reports and cutting budgets.
“They cut $20 million in the youth centres per year, they’re not announcing anything to give more resources to the people in the youth centres,” Lisée insisted.
The youth protection minister hasn’t ruled out spending more money and resources to curb sexual exploitation, but said she wants to meet with more players in the youth protection world first.
“I’m going to wait to talk with the people who are working with youth people and they’re going to tell me what they need exactly to be more efficient,” said Lucie Charlebois, Minister for Youth Protection.
The auditor currently investigating the Laval group home is expected to table a report on Mar. 10.
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