Alberta doles out $3.5M to fight human trafficking

It’s a vicious crime that preys on the vulnerable, but the province is hoping a large new investment will help human trafficking survivors seek help.

In conjunction with National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, the Alberta government has announced a $3.5 million investment to support 20 anti-human trafficking organizations across the province.

James McLean, a research and policy director at the Canadian Centre to End Trafficking, says human trafficking is a pan-Canadian issue that is often misunderstood.

“Often in Canada, sex trafficking looks like intimate partner violence or domestic violence where one of the partners is incredibly toxic and exploits the victim to do sexual acts that they otherwise wouldn’t,” he said.

In Alberta, the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) Human Trafficking Unit, made 30 arrests, laid 212 charges, and conducted 76 victim interventions over the last year.

Now that this funding has been announced, McLean says he hopes it will help the province provide the extremely important resources that victims rely on.

“Often when a survivor is getting ready to leave their trafficking situation, or once they’ve already done so, they depend on Canada’s social safety net to guide them and to help them through the recovery and the challenge is that they are major gaps in that social safety net,” he explained.

Kate Price, executive director of Action Coalition for Trafficking (ACT) Alberta, is one of the recipients and says the money will go a long way.

“This funding will enable ACT Alberta to grow our victim services unit, strengthen partnerships, and welcome more survivor leadership in our network,” she said.

But, Price says there is more work to do.

“The anti-trafficking movement can’t be led by agencies and allies alone — survivors must be empowered to lead this movement, to tell us what they need, and to be properly compensated when we seek them out for their expertise,” she said.

When it comes to prevention, Minister of Public Safety, and Emergency Services Mike Ellis, says education and awareness is the first step.

“It’s an unthinkable crime that denies a person their safety, their freedom, individuality,” he said. “It is a practice that strips victims of their essential human rights.

“Trafficking of a human being is a vicious crime that preys on our most vulnerable, stealing their identity, and trapping them in a web of abuse and degradation.”

Angela Adsit and Paul Brandt have also been named as the new co-chairs for the Alberta Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons board of directors.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today