More About Trafficking

Why doesn’t ACT Alberta lobby the government?2017-04-13T17:56:48-06:00

As a registered charity, only 10% of our resources (both financial and human) are permitted to be devoted to political activities. Political activities are defined as “any activity that explicitly communicates to the public that a law, policy, or decision of any level of government inside or outside Canada should be retained, opposed, or changed.” We are funded to coordinate services for victims, provide training and education, and research and collect data on human trafficking.

What are some initiatives at a community level that ACT Alberta is involved in?2017-04-13T18:01:46-06:00

Human trafficking is a crime that is appearing in many corners of our society. As a result, ACT Alberta has been raising awareness amongst non-governmental organizations, government agencies and law enforcement across our communities to equip these workers to identify and assist potential victims. Though many people are starting to hear about this crime, many admit that they do not feel comfortable identifying or assisting victims. Our focus is to increase their confidence in responding to this crime.

ACT Alberta believes strongly in collaboration and works with a variety of partners both locally, provincially, nationally, and internationally, including frontline service providers, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and law enforcement bodies. We work to improve services and streamline responses for victims and survivors of human trafficking. We participate in local community-based initiatives whenever possible.

Additionally, ACT Alberta has developed a community-based model of chapters that foster community-specific responses to human trafficking. Our chapters develop local protocols and networks on human trafficking, coordinate services for victims, build capacity and provide training and education on human trafficking. Chapters work in close collaboration with government, law enforcement, nongovernmental organizations, and communities.

ACT Alberta has developed a reputation for evidence-based and human rights-based work and are an organization that other agencies know they can trust.

Isn’t all prostitution sex trafficking? What is the percentage of people in the sex industry who are trafficked?2017-04-06T19:49:08-06:00

At ACT Alberta, our mandate is to assist victims of human trafficking and to raise awareness of this human rights abuse. We emphasize the distinction between sex trafficking and other reasons that a person might be engaged in the sex industry. In order for a matter to be deemed human trafficking, an element from each of the three components (action, means and purpose) of the United Nations Trafficking Protocol must be met. Typically, in these circumstances, all or a significant portion of the money earned is relinquished to the trafficker and the victim feels that s/he must comply with the trafficker’s wishes.

While human trafficking is certainly present in the sex industry, the percentage of people in that industry who have been trafficked is unknown. We can only know about the victims of trafficking who have come forward. This does not account for the many victims who have not been identified.

Please note that because ACT Alberta focuses specifically on human trafficking, questions about prostitution and pornography are beyond our scope of expertise. ACT Alberta recognizes that human trafficking occurs within the sex industry and we work collaboratively with law enforcement, government agencies, and NGOs to identify and respond to all forms of human trafficking.

Who is most affected by human trafficking?2017-04-06T19:52:01-06:00

According to research done by ACT Alberta (2015), certain populations tend to be more likely to be -targeted by traffickers. In particular, those living in poverty, those with histories of abuse and trauma, those living in isolation, and individuals who suffer from various forms of discrimination (including migrants, Aboriginal peoples, people who suffer from mental health concerns and addictions, and sex workers) are heavily affected by trafficking. Traffickers also tend to target youth and females, particularly for the purposes of sex trafficking. Vulnerabilities to human trafficking are the result of intersections of various social categories, power relations, and experiences that act on individuals in intricate and nuanced ways, resulting in some populations being more heavily affected than others.

ACT Alberta has been tracking information on individuals victimized by trafficking in Alberta since 2008. As of April 2015, 54.3 percent of the survivors of trafficking assisted by ACT Alberta were trafficked for sexual exploitation, 35.9 percent for labour exploitation, 8.7 percent for both sex and labour exploitation, and 1.1 percent for organ trafficking. About three-quarters of the trafficked people assisted by ACT Alberta are women and girls. 56% were trafficked internally, 44% trafficked internationally. The most common mode of entry into Canada for those who did not originate in Canada is through Temporary Foreign Worker Program or as visitors and students.

Who are the traffickers?2017-04-06T19:52:06-06:00

According to research done by ACT Alberta (2015), a wide array of individuals are involved in trafficking, including pimps, gang members, family members, romantic partners, friends, and employers. Traffickers often exploit preexisting relationships in order to control and coerce individuals into providing sex and labour against their will.

How many trafficking victims are Aboriginal?2017-04-06T19:52:12-06:00

Of our referrals of Canadian-born victims of human trafficking, approximately 20 percent have involved Aboriginal women and girls. This does not account for the many victims who have not come forward or who have not been referred to ACT Alberta. Other research and reports (see Boyer & Kampouris, 2014; Public Safety Canada, 2012; Department of Justice Canada, 2005; Roos, 2013; Sethi, 2007; Sikka, 2009) indicate that Aboriginal women are disproportionately affected by human trafficking.

Does trafficking for the purposes of organ removal occur in Alberta?2017-04-06T19:52:23-06:00

Human trafficking for the purposes of organ removal is among the least known and understood forms of human trafficking in Alberta. As of 2017, ACT Alberta has received several unsubstantiated reports of organ trafficking.

Are there any holes or missing pieces in the current legislation?2017-04-06T19:52:28-06:00

There are numerous legislative responses that can be relied on to address human trafficking, including Provincial Acts, Provincial Policies, the Criminal Code, and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness on human trafficking creates barriers in applying these protective measures. ACT Alberta continues to provide education and awareness on human trafficking with the intention of encouraging the robust use of these measures.

There is equal protective legislation under the law for victims of human trafficking whether they were born in Canada or not. The current Canadian legislation on human trafficking addresses when the crime occurs within Canadian borders, regardless of the nationality of the person.

What steps has Canada taken to address trafficking in persons?2017-04-06T19:52:33-06:00

Human trafficking is illegal under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) (s. 118) and the Criminal Code of Canada (s. 279.01, s. 279.03, s. 465 and s. 467.11). There are also many other trafficking-related crimes in the Criminal Code, such as living off the avails of prostitution or withholding documents.

The first human trafficking charges were laid in January 2008. As of January 2016, there have been 330 cases where human trafficking specific charges were laid. Of these, 38 have been completed through the courts with human trafficking specific convictions and 56 have been completed with convictions for human trafficking-related offences.

In 2006, the Canadian government began issuing specialized Temporary Resident Permits (TRPs) for victims of human trafficking. Holders of this permit are eligible to access health-care benefits, trauma counseling, and legal status in Canada for 180-days with the possibility of renewal. Furthermore, the Government of Canada released a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking in 2012 and continues to support anti-trafficking efforts nationwide.

How does human trafficking differ from smuggling?2017-04-06T19:52:38-06:00

Human smuggling is voluntary illegal migration across an international border and is a crime against the state. Human trafficking does not require the crossing of an international border and involves exploitative relationships that can stretch on for years. Rather than being a crime against the state, it is a crime against a person.

What is the extent of human trafficking in Canada?2018-10-30T17:50:46-06:00

It is difficult to determine the extent of human trafficking in Canada. Human trafficking is a hidden and stigmatized crime that occurs in the criminal underworld. Furthermore, many victims never come forward; they may mistrust authorities or be unwilling to self-identify as trafficked due to a lack of understanding or discomfort with the label. Victims also may hesitate to come forward due to fear, physical and psychological coercion, poor English skills, a lack of knowledge of where to seek help, or other reasons.

For some current statistics on human trafficking in Canada, please visit this Statistics Canada Quick Fact Sheet  , updated on 2018-06-27.

What is the global extent of human trafficking?2017-04-06T19:52:47-06:00

The global extent of human trafficking is a topic of serious contention. However, the US Department of Health and Human Services has assessed human trafficking globally as the fastest growing criminal industry and the third most profitable, after only drugs and arms dealing. The United Nations conservatively estimates the number of human trafficking victims at any one time at 2.5 million globally. Evidence has determined that human trafficking affects every country in the world.

What is human trafficking?2017-04-13T17:52:16-06:00

Human trafficking – the act of exploiting an individual for personal gain through force, coercion, or deceit – is a severe violation of human rights. We subscribe to the definition outlined in the United Nations Trafficking Protocol, in which human trafficking involves an action (such as recruitment, transportation, receipt, or harbouring of a person) through means (such as abduction, force, threats, coercion, fraud, deception, or abuse of power) for a purpose (sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, or forced organ removal).

Trafficking can occur either internationally (when an individual is trafficked across an international border) or internally (when all the stages of the crime occur within the borders of a given country). Notably, the UN Trafficking Protocol does not require the movement of a person; transporting an individual is only one of several possible actions.

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