Save The Girl Next Door

MPP for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, Laurie Scott, in Windsor on August 16, 2016 for a roundtable on the issue of human trafficking. (Photo courtesy the Windsor Police Service)

Human trafficking is a rising concern in the province as more teenage girls are lured into the sex trade.

Windsor police held a round table Tuesday with MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock Laurie Scott to discuss Bill 158, otherwise known as the “Save The Girl Next Door” Act.

Scott says human trafficking is one of the largest growing crimes in the country with 65% of Canadian cases coming from Ontario.

“Ontario has been highlighted by the ministry as a hub for human trafficking,” says Scott. “It is not only organized crime but it’s also lone traffickers that lure and coerce these predominantly young women into the trade and the average age is approximately 14 years of age,” she says.

Scott says the old idea of sex slaves being women tricked from Eastern Europe is no more.

“Ninety per cent [of women trafficked] are Canadian born girls and it’s over the internet,” says Scott.

Although Windsor police are keeping an eye on social media for any leads Scott says part of the Bill is to create awareness and have people within the community look for signs of human trafficking.

“This is happening largely across the 401 corridor that the girls are being move around,” says Scott. “It’s going to take community awareness and it’s going to take political will, that this is a priority in protecting our children from this crime.”

The bill also includes updating the sex offerings registry, putting a protection order in place for the girls rescued and giving victims the opportunity to sue their traffickers for the trauma sustained.

Scott says the Windsor police have done a good job in preventing human trafficking but more needs to be done throughout the province. She says communities, police services, the courts and victim services need to work together to make an impact.

“That patch work exists, we see it in Windsor,” says Scott. “But it needs to be replicated and coordinated across the province if we’re going to make an impact to say, ‘our girls are not for sale in Ontario.'”

The Liberal government has passed the Bill but Scott says more needs to be done in terms of bringing the issue before the committee and increasing funding to victim services.

In a news release it states that victim services in the Windsor area have been cut by 27% over the past couple of years.

—With files from Maureen Revait