Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and Solicitor General Michael Kerzner released the following statement:
“We stand together with our partners worldwide to recognize World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
This year’s theme focuses on the use and abuse of technology and how social media and cellphones are often used by traffickers to lure, groom, recruit, and exploit individuals.
While human trafficking can happen to anyone, we know young women and girls are particularly at risk of being exploited, robbing them of their safety, as well as having a devastating impact on their health and well-being.
The widespread use of social media and online messaging services have intensified globally during the COVID-19 pandemic. Traffickers use this technology to more easily identify and target a person’s vulnerabilities, gain trust and form a bond that they will then use to manipulate and exploit their victim. We must use the same technology to reach those at risk and disrupt and prevent human trafficking.
Our government’s $307 million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy is specifically designed to protect children and youth. It includes digital education tools that, with the help of adult facilitators, can teach kids how to recognize if they are being targeted by a trafficker and where to get help. It also provides culturally specific resources for Indigenous communities.
We must do everything we can to protect potential victims and support survivors by intervening early, holding offenders accountable, and ensuring law enforcement officials have the tools necessary to investigate, charge and prosecute offenders.
Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government will continue to work with communities and our partners across the province to prevent and eliminate human trafficking while supporting victims and survivors.”
For more information or supports, individuals can call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010.