Federal funding falls short of need for anti-human trafficking programs: LAWC

FILE. London Abused Women's Centre Website

The London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) says newly-available federal funding of $200,000 for programs that address human trafficking does not meet the need in the region.

The federal government announced Wednesday an investment of $19-million “to reduce human trafficking and support those most impacted,” including $14 million through Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) and $5 million through Public Safety Canada.

“Human trafficking is a vile, harmful crime that disproportionately impacts women and girls,” read a statement emailed to Global News from the ministry of women and gender equality and rural economic development.

“The Government of Canada is working with domestic and international partners to combat human trafficking in all its forms. The pandemic has made it more difficult to keep vulnerable populations safe, and help victims escape situations of human trafficking and access the supports they need.”

Read more: Sucked into sex trafficking, London woman shares experience in wake of LAWC funding cuts

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The statement said the government is now accepting applications “for projects that work to prevent and address human trafficking and support services” and will continue to accept proposals until Sept. 4.

However, LAWC Executive Director Megan Walker says that under the funding distribution model, their programming would only qualify for $200,000 and the funding is “for only one year.” Previously, LAWC was receiving funding through the Measures to Address Prostitution Initiatives (MAPI) fund, a five-year program that ended in March.

“Our previous government funding was $260,000 per year and given the significant increase in trafficking in Ontario and London, we were expecting to provide a new program with additional partners at a cost of about $360,000,” Walker told Global News.

“WAGE funding is a decrease for us and is only for one year. Funding through Public Safety can be either single year or multi-year projects. Anticipated maximum per year for up to four years is $150,000, also a significant decrease.”

In an email to Global News, director of communications with the ministry Alex Howell said eligible organizations can apply for up to $200,000 for projects with a local scope, up to $400,000 for projects with a regional or provincial/territorial scope, and up to $700,000 for projects with a pan-Canadian scope.

“This is a competitive process and the most promising and impactful proposals will be successful. The number of funded projects will depend on the number, quality, and scope of proposals received.”

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Read more: Local donations allow LAWC to maintain human trafficking program until end of June

LAWC’s existing support program for victims of human trafficking helps over 600 women and girls — over 3,100 women and girls have been helped throughout the lifetime of the program.

Back in May, the centre announced that it only had enough funding the maintain the program until the end of the month but thanks to the generosity of Londoners, Walker says they now have enough funding to operate the program until the end of October.

“These women and girls require long-term service – sometimes up to 10-plus years to deal with the trauma of being raped and tortured up to 20 times per day. They need help in learning to live again,” she said.

“This is an essential service.”

Walker says the centre will do what it can to “ensure that all these women, girls and their families will have immediate access to service.”

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