In a small press conference in Brockville Friday morning, Leeds–Grenville–Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark announced that $586,000 will be granted to his riding over the next five years to help combat human trafficking.
“”I’m so glad that victim services is getting these funds,” says Clark.
“I know that they’re going to be well-used by the organization.”
The grant is part of larger $307-million initiative that aims to end human trafficking across Ontario.
This funding will be distributed to various regions across the province as the Ford government makes a push to end the practice.
“Unfortunately, Ontario is a hub for human trafficking,” says Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues.
“We really need to step up and be leaders in this fight against human trafficking.”
The Brockville area sees more human trafficking cases than you might think — approximately 20 to 40 people a year are trafficked in the Leeds Grenville region.
The area can be alluring to traffickers for its rural setting, its proximity to the United States and Quebec, and the convenience of the Highway 401 corridor.
“We really want to ensure that when the funding is out there, it’s filling in those critical gaps across the province,” says Dunlop.
“It’s so that people have access to those resources close to home.”
For rural areas, services can be few and far between.
This creates a potentially dangerous space for human traffickers to come and prey on vulnerable populations in that area — who are usually women, underage or Indigenous, or some combination of the three.
“Those gaps are easy to get exploited by people that are involved in human trafficking,” says Sonya Jodoin.
“There are lots of empty spaces for someone to come in an recruit.”
A portion of the funding will also go to the recovery services for survivors, and education on human trafficking to raise public awareness.