NationTalk: KENORA – The Ontario government has started community engagements on a new Children at Risk of Exploitation (CARE) Unit in the Kenora District to protect children and youth from sex trafficking. As part of Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy, CARE Units help identify and locate children who are experiencing or are at high risk of being exploited and trafficked, connect them to specialized support services, and investigate and hold offenders accountable.
“A key focus of our Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy is providing dedicated, specialized supports to protect children and youth from sex trafficking,” said Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “Ontario’s first two CARE Units in Toronto and Durham supported more than 200 children and youth last year. A new unit in the Kenora District would build on the strong network of anti-human trafficking services and supports in the region and help keep children, youth and Indigenous women and girls safe.”
The government is engaging with Indigenous representatives, community-based organizations, children’s aid societies and police services as a first step toward creating a CARE Unit in the Kenora area.
CARE Units are specialized intervention teams that pair child protection workers with police officers and Indigenous liaisons. Staff in the units work with children and youth who are being trafficked or are at risk to build trust and provide referrals to trauma-informed, person-centred, culturally safe services. This approach is a first for Ontario, with each CARE Unit being a unique reflection of the communities they serve.
“Children and youth, and Indigenous women and girls are among those at highest risk for sex trafficking,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Member of Provincial Parliament for Kenora–Rainy River. “We are engaging communities as well as Indigenous partners to develop a CARE Unit model for Kenora that reflects the unique needs of the region, so we can help protect more young people from this crime and connect them to culturally appropriate supports.”
Ontario’s $307-million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy is a comprehensive, five-year plan that includes actions across government to raise awareness, protect victims, intervene early, support survivors and hold offenders accountable.
“Trafficking in all its forms is a vicious crime that must be brought to an end,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. “This innovative approach would bring together the combined expertise of the police and professionals who work specifically with children and families in the community, to better serve and protect those at risk. We will bring human traffickers to justice and provide a safer future for children and youth.”
- Ontario is a hub for human trafficking, accounting for the majority of police-reported incidents in the country, with the most common form of human trafficking being sex trafficking.
- The average age of recruitment into sex trafficking in Canada is 13 years old.
- Young women and girls are particularly vulnerable to being targeted, especially those from Indigenous, Black, and other racialized communities and children and youth in care.
- Boys, men and people who are 2SLGBTQQIA are also at risk of being trafficked.
- In 2021, Ontario’s first two CARE Unit prototypes began operation in the City of Toronto and Durham Region.
- In 2022-2023, the CARE Units in Toronto and Durham served 218 children and youth, and 136 of these children and youth were under the age of 15.
- Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy
- Ontario protecting children at risk of sex trafficking
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