Alberta government introduces human trafficking bill

The Alberta government introduced a new bill on April 7, 2020 that it says will protect survivors of human trafficking. Getty Images

The Alberta government introduced a new bill Tuesday that it says will empower survivors of human trafficking.

The government said trafficking takes three forms: sexual exploitation, forced labour and organs or tissues.

According to the province, if the Protecting Survivors of Human Trafficking Act, or Bill 8, is passed, it will:

  • expand the definition of sexual exploitation to include people of all ages
  • make it easier for survivors to get protection orders
  • enable police to take faster action to rescue survivors
  • allow survivors to sue traffickers
  • create an awareness day on Feb. 22

With 12 Alberta cases among the 228 reported human trafficking incidents in Canada in 2018, Premier Jason Kenney said the province has to be a leader in this fight.

READ MORE: ‘Modern-day slavery’ — Why human trafficking often flies under the radar in Canada

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“Too often, Albertans think that human trafficking is something that happens at the remote corners of the developing world. The truth is it happens in our own communities, and sometimes it happens as close as the business or house next door,” he said in a press release.

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer — who introduced the bill — echoed Kenney’s remarks, saying the province has to lead the way to protect survivors.

“Survivors rely on a patchwork of existing remedies and statutory protections, and too many fall between the cracks in our system,” he said.

“We are strengthening a survivor’s ability to get away from this physically, emotionally and financially damaging abuse.”

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READ MORE: United Conservative Party unveils plan to fight human trafficking in Alberta

Kate Quinn, executive director of CEASE: Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation, said this legislation would make a difference in the lives of many.

“An awareness day, emergency protection orders and the ability to sue traffickers can help those who have suffered,” she said.

“We work closely with law enforcement and community partners to support those who are in immediate danger from their traffickers, and it is abundantly clear that we need to do more to create much-needed protection at critical stages.”

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