Government of Canada announces funding to help empower survivors of human trafficking to regain financial independence
March 15, 2023 - Toronto, Ontario
Human trafficking is a devastating crime that disproportionately affects women and girls. Traffickers exert control over victims in a range of ways to get them to do something that they are unwilling to do. It can involve physical, sexual or emotional violence, but it can also involve financial control and fraud. The Government of Canada is committed to combatting human trafficking in all its forms and helping survivors reclaim their lives, by addressing barriers that can stand in their way.
The Minister of Public Safety, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, earlier this week, met with Victim Services Toronto and Project Recover, which provide support to survivors of human trafficking looking to reclaim their financial independence. This project is supported with an investment of $158,500 over two years, made available under Public Safety Canada’s Contribution Program to Combat Serious and Organized Crime (CPCSOC).
Gaining access to financial services is essential to survivors’ reintegration into their communities. These services are needed to access housing and pursue employment and education, but can be exceptionally difficult to obtain. Project Recover advocates with creditors on behalf of survivors to eliminate fraudulent debts incurred in the course of their exploitation and offers personal finance coaching through volunteers from the financial sector. Federal support has allowed the project to increase its capacity to help more survivors, and to offer its services using a trauma-informed approach.
Combatting human trafficking requires urgent action in collaboration with community partners. As we work toward building a safer and more resilient Canada, the Government of Canada remains committed to supporting these efforts though the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, which aims to prevent, protect and empower victims and survivors.
“Human trafficking robs people of their humanity. It is a horrific form of gender-based violence, and we owe it to survivors to do everything we can to support them. I want to thank the team at Project Recover for showing me first-hand how federal funds help survivors take back control of their finances – and lives. This exemplary initiative not only offers financial advocacy and counselling, but puts the mental health and well-being of survivors at the forefront of all that they do.”
- The Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety
“Project Recover is a vital tool, helping hundreds of survivors of human trafficking escape from debt fraudulently incurred in their name by traffickers. This work is a major step towards survivors being able to move on with their lives and recover from what they have experienced. Victim Services Toronto is extremely appreciative of Public Safety Canada’s support of Project Recover. Fighting back against human trafficking requires strong partners, and we are glad to have Public Safety on our side.”
- Carly Kalish, Executive Director, Victim Services Toronto
Project Recover will result in 500 human trafficking survivors having increased access to compassionate, confidential, trauma-informed and cost-free services to help resolve fraudulent debt, and 100 survivors gaining budgeting, money management, credit skills, and improved confidentiality practices to facilitate a debt-free or debt-managed future.
In 2022, Ontario introduced Bill 99, Protection from Coerced Debts Incurred in relation to Human Trafficking Act to prohibit the inclusion in consumer reports of unfavorable information about a consumer that resulted from human trafficking.
In September 2019, the Government of Canada launched a comprehensive National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking that brings together federal efforts. It is supported by an investment of $57.22 million over five years and $10.28 million ongoing. The key areas of focus are informed by the internationally recognized pillars of prevention, protection, prosecution, partnerships and empowerment.
The funding provided through the National Strategy builds on a previous investment of $14.51 million over five years, and $2.89 million per year to establish the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline, which launched in May 2019.
The Hotline is a confidential service and a toll free number to anonymously connect the public with social services, community services, and law enforcement in their community. It can be reached at 1-833-900-1010.
Office of the Minister of Public Safety
Public Safety Canada
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