Last Updated: Friday, 27 November 2015, 12:04 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Canada

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 3 June 2005
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Canada, 3 June 2005, available at: [accessed 28 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Canada (Tier 1)

Canada is primarily a destination and transit country for women trafficked for the purposes of labor and sexual exploitation. Women and children are trafficked from Central and South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia for sexual exploitation. To a lesser extent, men, women, and children are trafficked for forced labor. There is internal trafficking of Canadians for the sex trade. The majority of foreign victims transiting Canada are bound for the United States. Numbers are hard to gauge, but in February 2004, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) estimated that 800 persons are trafficked into Canada annually and that an additional 1,500-2,200 persons are trafficked through Canada into the United States. Some estimate that this number is much higher.

The Government of Canada fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The Government of Canada has comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation and has dedicated resources to combat trafficking in persons. Over the year, Canada increased efforts to prosecute and conviction traffickers. However, law enforcement efforts in key provinces like British Columbia – through which a significant number of Korean and other female victims are trafficked to the United States – were weak in 2004. Canada struggles to identify trafficking victims inside clandestine migrant smuggling operations. There are growing concerns that South Koreans and others may be abusing the lack of a visa requirement to enter Canada to facilitate the trafficking of men and women, mainly to the United States. To enhance its anti-trafficking efforts, Canada needs to use its anti-trafficking law to vigorously increase investigations, arrests, prosecutions, and convictions of traffickers, especially those who may be abusing visa waivers and entertainment visas.


The Government of Canada has comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, but this law has produced few results to date. Nonetheless, Canada recently brought charges against a major trafficker under its law in April 2005 – the first charges ever brought since its enactment. Canada also made progress in prosecuting traffickers under other existing laws. Over the reporting period, there have been 19 convictions. Additionally, there are 12 pending cases and seven open investigations. Canada's federal system and diversity of criminal codes complicate data collection; there are likely additional trafficking-related cases that are not reflected in this report. However, in British Columbia, a transit zone for trafficking to the United States, there have been few convictions. The government revised its immigration policy to discontinue a blanket employment waiver (begun in 1998) that had permitted adult entertainment establishments to hire foreign women as exotic dancers – a type of program that has been abused and exploited by traffickers in many other countries. Officials acknowledge that some women may have been forced into prostitution. The visa program has not been entirely suspended. According to the Government of Canada's official tally, 46 "exotic dancer" visas were issued in 2004, none to Romanians. While over 600 women reportedly were granted an "exotic dancer" visa in 2003, only 239 visas were issued. The majority of the visas were issued to Romanians.

Additionally, there continues to be anecdotal reports of large numbers of South Korean women trafficked through Canada to the United States. The lack of a visa requirement to enter Canada, lack of prosecutions, and an inability to determine the scope of the problem has made Canada, particularly British Columbia, an attractive trafficking hub for East Asian traffickers. Airline passenger analysis shows that the number of Koreans returning to Korea on flights from Vancouver Canada is 25 percent less than the number arriving on flights from Korea, but the ties to trafficking are not known. Observers believe that several hundred South Koreans have been trafficked through Canada to the U.S. since 2000,but they state that this estimate is modest.


Canada provides reasonable care to Canadian trafficking victims, but some critics claim that support for foreign victims is inadequate. Under Canadian law, undocumented aliens are allowed to claim refugee status, which would permit them to remain in Canada with limited benefits while their cases are adjudicated. In general, the rights of trafficking victims are respected and victims are not incarcerated. The government has pledged $4 million per year to support initiatives designed to increase the confidence of victims in the criminal justice system. Canada has a variety of other victim assistance programs on the federal and provincial levels to protect and care for victims.


The government of Canada has strong public awareness campaigns aimed to prevent trafficking. The government supports a 17-agency anti-trafficking working group (IWGTIP), which coordinates all policies on trafficking-related matters. The IWGTIP produced an information booklet in 14 languages that warns potential victims in source countries of the dangers of falling prey to traffickers. The government has also hosted numerous conferences and conducted a number of public outreach campaigns aimed to prevent and warn of the dangers of trafficking. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) continues to fund anti-trafficking programs all over the world. The Prime Minister has spoken out strongly on the issue, including in an address before the UN General Assembly last September. Additionally, the U.S. and Canada have pledged to do a joint assessment on trafficking, which will enhance cross-border cooperation on trafficking-related matters. The government has provided training to the RCMP and other government agencies on trafficking-related matters.

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