Human trafficking remains a key issue in Niagara
Horrifying stories of misplaced trust, abuse, and human trafficking circles are being heard by a federal committee. Here in Niagara, the situation is dire.
A 12 member, all party committee is travelling across the country this week; they started yesterday in Halifax, from there it's off to Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver.
The committee is studying the practice of human trafficking in Canada, including recruitment, transportation, and detainment of people for everything from sexual exploitation to forced labour.
The committee had an emotional day yesterday, but when they hit the GTA, experts expect a flood of stories.
"An organization called Free Them states that 75% of human trafficking victims will come through the Golden Horseshoe at some point in their journey when being trafficked within Canada," President of the YWCA Niagara Region Board of Directors Jennifer Bonato says.
Bonato says many people who become entangled in human trafficking are first approached online, where faceless users prey on their vulnerabilities.
"We're receiving word from students at the elementary level, the high school level, students from Niagara College and Brock University who are letting us know that there may be someone who is trying to traffic them."
Bonato says a lot can be done to help these people including developing a national strategy to create a unified approach to the issue.
"There's no dedicated funding to develop specific programming for these individuals, so what we've done to date is really adapt our existing programs and services. But again, the issues facing victims of human trafficking are so complex that really what we need is some sort of dedicated program to suit their needs, to take a client centred approach, and offer full spectrum services for these individuals."
Reportedly, most of the victims in Canada are women and children with Indigenous women making up a large percentage.
Tim Speaks with Michael Bower NBC News Radio Correspondent
Tim and Shelby Speak with Ewa Demianowicz Humane Society International/Canada