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‘Throw away the keys:’ Premier Ford touts plan to fight human trafficking in Ontario


November 29, 2019
By Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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TORONTO—Ontario will be developing a strategy to fight human trafficking, with Premier Doug Ford saying judges should lock up perpetrators and throw away the keys.

The province’s solicitor general and associate minister for children and women’s issues will work on the plan, they announced Thursday, and in the meantime $20 million will be invested annually. That money has already been provided in the past, but the government said it is now guaranteeing it as stable funding, rather than through short-term commitments.

Ford said the new strategy will ensure survivors get support and offenders are held accountable.

“The more I learn about human trafficking, I tell you, the angrier I get,” the premier said Thursday.

“I’m not too sure if people know out there, but recruitment in trafficking starts at the age of 13. That’s 13 years old. That’s heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking, and it’s taking place right here in our own backyard. Two-thirds of all human trafficking in Canada happens here in Ontario.”

Ford warned at the end of his remarks that he was going “off-script” for a moment, and said he had a message for judges.

“These people need to be put away and throw away the keys,” he said. “This is disgusting what they’re doing to our young people and it shouldn’t be tolerated and the judges shouldn’t be tolerating it either. Rather than giving them a slap on the wrist and letting them back out, they need to be thrown in jail and throw away the keys.”

More than half of the $20 million will be going to prevention and services for victims, including emergency and transitional housing and trauma-informed counselling.

An Ontario Provincial Police anti-human trafficking team that co-ordinates information sharing will be getting $2.2 million.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said supporting enforcement and investigations will be a priority.

“We’ve heard traumatic stories that can happen when a victim tries to leave a trafficking situation,” she said. “Some are pursued, intimidated, threatened by their trafficker, who will stop at nothing to get the victim back to keep their income.”

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2019