EDMONTON – An initiative to combat sex trafficking in Edmonton, years in the making, was launched Tuesday.
Over the last two-and-a-half years, 11 agencies, led by Action Coalition on Human Trafficking, have worked together to develop the action plan Engaging Community: Addressing Sex Trafficking in Edmonton to prevent and reduce sex trafficking of women and girls in Edmonton.
(Scroll down to read the full action plan).
“What we’re seeing here today is a culmination of two-and-a-half years of work that really takes actionable steps forward on a very complex, difficult to measure problem,” said Andrea Burkhart, ACT Alberta.
The new plan targets specific areas: increasing awareness, education and training, looking at the systemic factors that are creating conditions that make people vulnerable to trafficking, and focusing on children and youth.
“We heard very loudly from the community that this issue impacts our children and our youth disproportionately,” explained Burkhart.
It’s the first of its kind in Alberta and only one of three community action plans in Canada.
The initiative focuses specifically on sex trafficking, but ACT Alberta receives reports of many different forms of trafficking, including labour exploitation and organ.
“We see this issue impact both Canadian citizens as well as foreign nationals to the country. It’s something…there really isn’t a population that’s immune to this problem,” Burkhart said.
ACT Alberta has been tracking information since 2008. Since then, 1.1 per cent of cases reported to it involve organ trafficking.
Reports of human trafficking to ACT Alberta have doubled year-over-year over the past four years, and over half of the organization’s clients are victims of sex trafficking.
The organization works with government agencies, law enforcement, and NGOs to help victims of human trafficking in the province.