The province has announced two funding commitments to Halton-region agencies offering services to help survivors of human trafficking heal.
Indira Naidoo-Harris, Ontario’s minister for the status of women, says the numbers are quite disturbing.
“Sixty-five per cent of the human trafficking that goes on in the country occurs in Ontario, and so we’ve tried to do everything we can and move as quickly as we can to put supports in place” she said.
Those supports include a $990,669 investment in Halton’s Sexual Assault & Violence Intervention Service to provide crisis support.
SAVIS executive director Alma Arguello says the province is also providing a $400,000 housing subsidy.
“If the survivor is ready, then we are able to support them by long term housing,” Arguello said. “This is the opportunity for them to have and know and learn something they could do and start their lives on their own.”
Arguello says survivors will be able to stay in the housing for up to seven years while they pursue education, find employment or access services like counselling.
The grant, she says, is only for three years but she remains optimistic that Halton service providers will continue to see investments by the province as it embarks on another partnership to collect more data.
Numerous organizations in the Halton region will be part of a concerted effort to gather information about human trafficking so that an evidence-based approach will be used to tackle the issue.
It’s often a difficult task, according to Arguello, because of the transient nature of the crime.
“This evidence-based model that we will be eventually starting to develop, we’ll be able to look at data such as age, where, how — those pieces are very important” she said.
“Then we’re able to identify where all these survivors are coming from, are they mostly from Halton are they bring trafficked in Halton, are they even being smuggled, we don’t have that information yet.”