The Region of Peel has put in place a permanent strategy to address human trafficking.

Back in June 2018, that municipality’s regional council endorsed a three-year pilot program that saw the creation of a safe/emergency house, a transition house, and a dedicated service hub.

A follow-up evaluation determined this ‘Strategy to Address Human Sex Trafficking in Peel’ was successful in “achieving its intended outcome to increase awareness and coordinated access to dedicated services to victims, survivors, and those at-risk of sex trafficking in Peel.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic further amplifying the need for service provision and housing for human sex trafficking survivors in Peel, the Region recently approved the strategy as a permanent $2.1 million program as part of its 2022 budget.

The Region of Peel, which includes the cities of Mississauga and Brampton and the town of Caledon, is the first municipality in Ontario to implement long-term, sustainable services and supports for those impacted by human sex trafficking.

Peel’s strategy aligns with Ontario’s anti-human trafficking strategy 2020-2025 by addressing human trafficking through prevention, intervention, and exits and ensuring people can access services and supports without having to leave their community.

“Human sex trafficking is a crime that impacts our entire community and requires a long-term community response,” said Sonia Pace, Region of Peel’s director of community partnerships, in a release.

“The Strategy becoming permanent is a big win for the Community Partnerships team; this will enable us to continue our efforts in providing trauma- informed, survivor-centred services to support victims/survivors in rebuilding their lives.”

Human trafficking is a crime that can happen to anyone, but primarily impacts women.

Most victims of trafficking are between 12 and 24 years old.

Cases in Ontario account for more than 70 per cent of all reported instances in Canada. Sixty-two per cent of Canadian human trafficking cases originate in the GTA, which is due in part due to access to major highways and an international airport.