No More Abuse: Cracking Down on Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling

January 02, 2021

Canada is known for its generous and fair immigration and refugee system. We open our doors to new Canadians who wish to live a better life in our country and who will work hard, play by the rules, and contribute to society. However, such a generous system makes us a target for illegal activities such as human trafficking and human smuggling.

These two crimes are sometimes confused with one another. Human trafficking is often described as a modern form of slavery. It involves the transporting of people for the purpose of exploitation, typically for sexual mistreatment or forced labour.

Human smuggling usually involves an agreed upon payment in order to be smuggled by way of an illegal vessel into another country. Unlike trafficking victims, the smuggled person usually consents to the activity – meaning the relationship can be compared to a voluntary business transaction.

Not only are human trafficking and human smuggling illegal, the two types of criminal activity also victimize refugees who seek to come to Canada the right and legal way. These crimes will not be tolerated in our generous country.

Our Government is taking action to stop the abuse and provide support to victims of these crimes. We introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act – a collection of ten bills that were stalled or completely blocked by the opposition in the previous Parliament. Included is the ‘Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act.’ This legislation will authorize immigration officers to refuse work permits to the vulnerable when it’s deemed they are at risk of degrading treatment. This includes, for instance, sexual exploitation and forced labour.

In addition, as promised in our 2011 election platform, our Government will work on developing and implementing a ‘National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.’ A countrywide, targeted response to this growing crime is needed to ensure that Canada progresses toward eliminating it for good. We will also take action to support organizations providing assistance to victims of this terrible abuse.

In fact, our Government already launched two national anti-trafficking awareness campaigns, “Blue Blindfold” and “I’m Not for Sale,” in 2010. The first initiative is to raise public awareness of the potential dangers of human trafficking and to provide information to the public on how to use the Crime Stoppers national tip line to anonymously report suspected cases. The “I’m Not for Sale” campaign involves the development of posters to target not only the public, but also potential victims.

Finally, our Government has made supporting victims a priority. In November 2010, we launched the national “Victims Matter” campaign, aimed at helping victims of human trafficking, their families and those who support them. The campaign aired on television, on the Internet, and in print.

Meanwhile, our Government also stands firmly in the belief that human smuggling operations have to stop. We will no longer let these criminals take advantage of our generous immigration system. We have reintroduced legislation that will prosecute smuggling operations, deter illegal migrants from resorting to such measures, and maintain the integrity and fairness of our immigration system.

My seat mate in the House of Commons, Ms. Joy Smith, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, in Manitoba, has also been a tireless champion in the fight to stop human trafficking, having had a Private Members Bill (C-268) passed on this important matter in the last Parliament.

Canada’s approach to these despicable crimes is that they will not be tolerated.  For too long, criminals have been taking advantage of innocent migrants and our generous country. Victims and their families can count on our Government to provide long-term support and to work for the integrity of our immigration system.