Helping victims and survivors of human sex trafficking
She could be the neighbour you once saw playing in the street with the other kids. She might have gone to school with your children. She might have been your classmate, or she could be a young woman-afraid and exploited-who grew up somewhere else but is now a victim of human sex trafficking in Peel. The human sex trafficking of young women is a crime that often happens well out of sight in our communities, yet it happens here. In fact, the most current data shows that Peel Regional Police conducted over half of the human trafficking investigations in Canada.
Peel's location within the GTA and its proximity to major highways has contributed to the Region becoming a centre for this type of crime. A Community for Life responds by combining enforcement of the crime with compassion for victims and survivors. That is why we are aligning our Human Services programs to help victims and survivors with the challenges unique to this type of sexual exploitation. In 2018, we began acting on Council's endorsement of the Strategy to Address Human Sex Trafficking in Peel.
The strategy includes a three-year pilot program with three components: one safe/emergency house, one transitional house, and one services hub. The safe/emergency house will provide immediate, secure housing for approximately four females and female-identifying individuals exiting human sex trafficking. This housing provides a safe place to live where supports are in place to help victims and survivors through their crisis and to stabilize, anywhere from 72 hours to four months. The transitional house will offer a secure, supportive housing option for approximately six females and female-identifying individuals who are starting to rebuild their lives. They can live at the transitional house for a period of four months to two years. The services hub will allow victims and survivors to connect with the supports they need, from health and wellness to income stabilization and employment counselling.
To begin delivering on the strategy, we are working collaboratively with Peel Regional Police and building relationships with community partners such as school boards, Peel Children's Aid Society and service providers. Planning is underway for the safe/emergency house and transitional house in 2019. The services hub is anticipated to open in winter of 2020.
When victims escape sexual exploitation, the path towards a safe, productive and rewarding life can be a long one. It is a fundament to help such young women in need. It is equally true that the community needs them -as they someday become the caregiver at our bedside, the teacher inspiring our children, the entrepreneur creating jobs, or the neighbour who becomes a friend-making contributions that help Peel become a Community for Life.