Alberta’s United Conservative government is moving ahead with calls to action from a task force on human trafficking, including establishing an office to combat the practice.
On Sunday, Premier Jason Kenney told a news conference in Calgary, where the Human Trafficking Task Force’s report was released, that all Albertans owe a debt of gratitude to the panel, which heard stories from victims and survivors and was chaired by country music star Paul Brandt.
The task force — which was first created in May 2020 — engaged with close to 100 experts and survivors to find out what the government can do to help stop human trafficking, along with how it can support survivors.
Within the 19 calls-to-action from the report, the five recommendations include:
- Creation of an Alberta office to combat trafficking in persons
- Prioritized/enhanced access to services for victims, survivors and those at risk of being trafficked
- Universally branded and consistent awareness, education and training programs and protocols
- Human trafficking specific legislative action, update and harmonization
- Enhanced, centralized data collection and research
Justice Minister Tyler Shandro told the news conference the office would need to form a strong partnership with the Indigenous community, and that an “Indigenous-specific response would need to be incorporated in every aspect of the office’s operations, support, training, education as well as outreach.”
In a news release Sunday afternoon, the government said it has accepted nearly all of the recommendations in principle.
“Through the work of the task force, we heard powerful stories from survivors. We heard how being sexually exploited and trafficked is like dying inside, and how hard it is to piece yourself back together to be reborn,” said task force member, Heather Forsyth.
“There are horrible crimes in the world, but human trafficking has to be the worst.”
“Today, and moving forward, we will make a difference for survivors and those being trafficked – whether it’s human trafficking, labour trafficking or organ trafficking. What an unbelievable gift to them.”
The final report was handed over to the government at the end of August last year.
In 2019, police reported 511 human trafficking incidents in Canada, with 31 in Alberta.
–with files from The Canadian Press