2013 | Nicole A. Barrett

This study was commissioned by the Canadian Women’s Foundation to support the work of the Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada. The Task Force is an ad hoc committee established by the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s Board of Directors. The Task Force is comprised of 23 experts on human trafficking and sexual exploitation and was convened to analyze the human trafficking situation in Canada. At the end of its eighteen- month mandate, the Task Force is expected to make recommendations to the Canadian Women’s Foundation Board of Directors on a national anti-trafficking strategy for the Foundation. Like the Task Force itself, this report focuses exclusively on sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of girls and women in Canada, while recognizing that labour trafficking, organ trafficking, and trafficking for forced marriage are all important topics requiring greater investigation.

The report answers diverse inquiries posed by the Canadian Women’s Foundation following their preliminary consultations with human trafficking stakeholders from 2011 to 2012. The purpose of the report is to provide a baseline from which the Task Force can work. The report gathers information on the prevalence of human trafficking in Canada in 2013, examines the profile of victims and the techniques of traffickers, and explores newer areas in the human trafficking discussion – such as the demand to purchase sex in Canada, the role of the internet in sex trafficking, and the social and economic costs of sex trafficking. More detailed reports in other topic areas, such as relevant laws, law enforcement and service provision will follow this report over the course of the year.

The objectives of the study are to understand the current incidence of sex trafficking in Canada, provide information on who is being trafficked and how, and investigate specific areas of concern with respect to the crimes were previously identified in cross-Canada consultations conducted by the Canadian Women’s Foundation. These specific areas include: the demand to purchase people for sex, the relevance and use of the internet in sex trafficking, and the economic and social costs of sex trafficking.