Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Canada

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 4 June 2008
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Canada, 4 June 2008, available at: [accessed 26 May 2016]
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 a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women and children are trafficked primarily from Asia and Eastern Europe for sexual exploitation, but victims from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean also have been identified in Canada. Many trafficking victims are from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and South Korea, in addition to Russia and Ukraine. Asian victims tend to be trafficked more frequently to Vancouver and Western Canada, while Eastern European and Latin American victims are trafficked more often to Toronto and Eastern Canada. A significant number of victims, particularly South Korean females, are trafficked through Canada to the United States. Canada is a source country for sex tourism, and NGOs report that Canada is also a destination country, particularly for sex tourists from the United States. Canadian girls and women, many of whom are aboriginal, are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation. NGOs report that Canada is a destination for foreign victims trafficked for labor exploitation; many of these victims enter Canada legally but then are unlawfully exploited in agriculture and domestic servitude.

The Government of Canada fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Over the last year, Canada increased victim protection and prevention efforts, but demonstrated limited progress on law enforcement efforts against trafficking offenders.

Recommendations for Canada: Intensify efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders, including those suspected of trafficking for labor exploitation; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute, as appropriate, Canadians suspected of committing child sex tourism crimes abroad; increase use of proactive police techniques such as brothel raids; provide greater protection and services for foreign trafficking victims; and improve coordination among national and provincial governments on law enforcement, victim services, and data collection.


The Government of Canada demonstrated limited progress in law enforcement actions against human traffickers during the reporting year. Canada prohibits all forms of human trafficking through its Criminal Code, which was amended in 2005 to include specific offenses to combat trafficking in persons, and which prescribes a penalty of up to 14 years' imprisonment. If the crime is committed under aggravated circumstances, the penalty increases to a maximum of life imprisonment. Such penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other grave crimes, such as sexual assault. In addition, transnational human trafficking is specifically prohibited by Section 118 of Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a $1 million fine. The Criminal Code also prohibits a defendant from receiving a financial or material benefit from trafficking; this offense is punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment. Withholding or destroying a victim's identification or travel documents to facilitate human trafficking is punishable by up to five years in prison. During the reporting period, provincial governments laid 17 trafficking charges under the Criminal Code, of which it laid 13 under Section 279.01 (trafficking) and four under Section 279.03 (withholding or destroying documents). These charges are the first filed under Canada's specific anti-trafficking provisions. Provincial governments secured three trafficking-related convictions during the reporting period, as compared to last year when provincial governments convicted five trafficking-related offenders. In June 2007, a British Columbia court dismissed trafficking charges in a landmark IRPA case filed against a massage parlor owner, although the defendant was convicted of related crimes such as managing a "bawdy house" and pimping; he was sentenced to 15 months in jail. Other cases remain open, including investigation of a suspected Eastern European prostitution ring in Toronto. In 2007, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) increased anti-trafficking training for front-line officers and prosecutors, organizing regional events across the country. The government also provided anti-trafficking training to RCMP recruits, border and immigration officers. The Government of Canada works closely with foreign governments, particularly the United States and Mexico, on international trafficking cases, and with other foreign governments through RCMP liaison officers stationed worldwide. There were no reports of trafficking-related complicity by Canadian officials last year.


The government increased protections for trafficking victims during the reporting period. In June 2007, Canada increased the length of temporary resident permits (TRPs) for foreign trafficking victims from 120 to 180 days. During this 180-day reflection period, immigration officials determine whether a longer residency period of up to three years should be granted. Victims also may apply for fee-exempt work permits, an option previously unavailable under Canadian law. TRP holders have access to essential and emergency medical care, dental care, and trauma counseling. However, NGOs reported difficulties with foreign trafficking victims securing TRPs and gaining access to services for victims without legal status. Four trafficking victims received TRPs during the reporting period. Victim support services in Canada are generally administered at the provincial level. While each province or territory provides services for crime victims, including trafficking victims, they do not all follow the same model, sometimes leading to uneven services across the country. However, most jurisdictions provide access to shelter services, short-term counseling, court assistance, and specialized services, such as child victim witness assistance and rape counseling. Canada funds domestic NGOs, in addition to a national Victim's Fund, which makes monies available to NGOs to fill in gaps in services for crime victims, including trafficking victims. Last year the government provided approximately $5 million in funding to support this initiative, the same amount funded in 2006. However, the government also appropriated approximately $50 million in additional funds for the Victim's Fund over the next four years. NGOs and faith-based organizations have urged greater government support for trafficking victims, arguing that they have provided most victims, especially foreign trafficking victims, with shelter and services without government assistance. In July 2007, British Columbia's provincial government opened a human trafficking office to provide better services to victims, and to improve coordination with NGOs and federal and provincial ministries.

Victims' rights are generally respected in Canada, and victims are not penalized for crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked, although NGOs have reported that some foreign trafficking victims have been arrested and deported without first being identified as victims. Canadian authorities encouraged trafficking victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions of trafficking offenders, but did not require victims to assist with the investigations of their traffickers as a condition of their TRPs. The government provided formal court assistance, in addition to the use of closed circuit television testimony and other victim-sensitive approaches to facilitate victims furnishing evidence. Victims also may submit a "victim impact statement" for the court to consider when sentencing an offender. Canada has a witness protection program, but no trafficking victims have utilized this service. Law enforcement and immigration officials receive specialized training to identify trafficking victims. Consular officials at Canadian embassies, especially in source and transit countries, receive training on protections and assistance available to potential trafficking victims. Canada funds international programs for trafficking victims, targeting assistance to Eastern Europe, West Africa, and Southeast Asia.


The government significantly increased antitrafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. In January 2008, the government provided funding of approximately $6 million to strengthen existing initiatives to prevent the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. The initiative includes a national awareness campaign and a 24-hour hotline to encourage the reporting of cases and for the public to receive information. The government also provided an additional $2 million to the Canadian Center for Child Protection, a national charitable organization, to pursue public leads about suspected child predators on the Internet. The Center operates an online tip line through its website, works with law enforcement, and promulgates educational and other materials to raise public awareness, including against child sex tourism. Last year, Justice Canada funded wide distribution of an anti-trafficking booklet to increase public awareness of human trafficking and materials available through the government's anti-trafficking website. The Canadian immigration agency provided pamphlets and information to temporary foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, to let them know where to seek assistance in case of exploitation or abuse. Immigration officials distributed anti-trafficking information to recipients of "exotic dancer" visas – which have been used to facilitate trafficking in the past – to inform them of their rights. Canada annually funds anti-trafficking prevention programs overseas, concentrated in Latin America, the Caribbean, West Africa, and Southeast Asia, and contributes funds to international organizations such as UNODC for law enforcement training and developing model anti-trafficking legislation.

Canada is a source country for child sex tourism, and the country prohibits its nationals from engaging in child sex tourism through Section 7(4.1) of its Criminal Code. This law has extraterritorial application, and carries penalties of up to 14 years in prison, although it is limited to cases where the defendant has not been prosecuted in the country where the offense was allegedly committed. According to the government, there are more than 100 cases pending in other countries involving Canadians charged with child exploitation. Two cases are currently being prosecuted before Canadian courts. Canada's department of foreign affairs distributes a publication entitled "Bon Voyage, But ..." to warn Canadians traveling abroad about Canada's child sex tourism law, and that the sexual exploitation of children is a serious, punishable crime. The Canadian government also partners with the private sector to fight human trafficking, in particular collaborating on development of a child exploitation tracking system designed to help law enforcement apprehend internet-based sexual predators. The government contributed three years of funding to equip and train police services to use the software.

Canadian federal officials are collaborating with provincial British Columbia officials and the Vancouver Police to establish measures to prevent human trafficking at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Federal officials are also working with the RCMP and the Vancouver Olympic Committee to incorporate anti-trafficking measures into the Olympics' broader security plan. To address consumer demand for commercial sex acts, provincial courts continued to send defendants convicted of soliciting prostitution to "Johns Schools" to educate them on the potential exploitation involved with the offense. Canada's Department of National Defense follows NATO policy on combating trafficking in persons, and provides anti-trafficking information to Canadian military forces and to civilian contractors prior to deployment on international peacekeeping missions. Last year the government funded a peacekeeper training program through the OAS to strengthen the capacity of Latin American and Caribbean peacekeeping forces to recognize and prevent human trafficking.

Canada tier ranking by year

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