U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Canada

Canada (Tier 1)

Canada is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of labor and sexual exploitation. In 2004, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) estimated that 600-800 persons are trafficked into Canada annually and that additional 1,500-2,200 persons are trafficked through Canada into the United States. Women and children are trafficked from Africa, Central and South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia for sexual exploitation. Most trafficking victims have been identified from source countries in Asia including South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. On a much lower scale, men, women, and children are trafficked for forced labor. Some Canadian girls and women are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation.

The Government of Canada fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Over the last year, two new Canadian laws were passed to strengthen anti-trafficking and sexual exploitation legislation. Victim protection and services for victims are primarily the responsibility of provinces and territories, and protection and services for trafficking victims vary by province or territory. As such, some international organizations and NGOs have criticized the Government of Canada for lack of social services and refugee or immigration protection specifically tailored for trafficking victims; however, they have only been able to cite a few specific examples of these alleged problems. Although a government agency provides posters and pamphlets on trafficking, efforts should be made to increase public awareness campaigns in communities vulnerable to trafficking to inform potential victims of their rights or immigration options. In British Columbia – a key area for trafficking-related crimes – the RCMP, in collaboration with the Public Safety Ministry, is implementing a pilot project for victims of trafficking. Efforts should be made to expand this type of program.


The first prosecution under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) anti-trafficking provision began in March 2006. There are 17 open investigations under the section of the IRPA that relates specifically to trafficking in persons. In 2005, six trafficking convictions under Canada's criminal codes were reported, with nine other trafficking prosecutions underway. There were also a number of prosecutions in Adult Criminal Court in Canada for individuals procuring children in prostitution. There were a number of legislative changes in 2005. Law C-49, which went into effect in November 2005, improved upon the IRPA by creating three new offenses explicitly relating to trafficking in Canada's criminal code. C-49 specifically criminalizes trafficking, prohibits the receipt of financial or material benefit from trafficking, and prohibits the withholding or destroying of documents, such as identification or travel documents, for the purpose of committing or facilitating a trafficking offense. Provincial and local authorities may be authorized to prosecute trafficking cases under the IRPA, and with the C-49 law, are able to specifically prosecute trafficking cases under Canada's criminal code. Law C-2, which came into effect on January 2, 2006, included significant reforms to facilitate the testimony of all child victims and witnesses, as well as adult victims and witnesses, of sexual assault and trafficking. This law also increases penalties for commercial sexual exploitation of children, from five to 10 years' imprisonment. Canada has a law against child sex tourism with extraterritorial application. In late 2004, Canada tightened the issuance of temporary work status for foreign exotic dancers under its temporary worker program1, and this has resulted in a significant decrease in the number granted. The government will also soon distribute information to individuals working in Canada under this program to inform them of their rights in hopes of preventing any abuses that may occur. Visa officers are trained to detect fraud or abuse, and adult entertainment establishments that wish to employ foreign workers as "exotic dancers" are required to follow certain regulatory mandates, including providing employment contracts and paying for travel expenses. The majority of "exotic dancer" residency permits were issued to Romanians. The presence of a visa waiver for South Korean nationals visiting Canada may be facilitating trafficking of South Koreans to the United States. However, U.S. law enforcement officials have noted that increased scrutiny by U.S. and Canadian officials at the border and airports has led to a decrease in the trafficking and smuggling of South Koreans through Canada, with some opting to go through Mexico.


There is no national victim protection services program. In general, victim protection is administered on the provincial or territorial level. While each province or territory provides services for victims of crimes, and this may include trafficking victims, they do not all follow the same model, leading to uneven services across the country. Canadian immigration is working to finalize a document for immigration officers that may aid with detection and referral of victims of trafficking. Canada's Justice Department has a "Victim's Fund" program to which NGOs may apply for funds to fill gaps in service delivery to victims, which could include trafficking victims. The government has pledged $5 million to support this initiative. Additionally, Canada has a witness protection program. The IRPA allows for visas to enable trafficking victims, among others, to remain in Canada on a temporary basis. Other types of visas exist to allow permanent residency. While some NGOs state that immigration relief is difficult to access, the government insists that all persons who have been identified as victims of trafficking and have asked to remain in Canada have received the appropriate legal immigration status to do so. Nonetheless, NGOs report anecdotal evidence that some victims of trafficking were arrested and deported.


The government continues to coordinate anti-trafficking policies through its 17-member Inter-departmental Working Group. There has been some training of federal law enforcement officials on trafficking and the implementation of Canada's criminal offenses against trafficking. The RCMP recently published the law enforcement guidebook "Human Trafficking Reference Guide for Canadian Law Enforcement." Several roundtables and conferences have been held in Vancouver regarding trafficking in persons. Over the years, Canada has funded international anti-trafficking programs and established in September 2005 a Human Trafficking National Coordination Center, which is staffed by two RCMP officers and one analyst. The government has committed to add more staff to the center. In addition to the center, there are six regional RCMP human trafficking regional coordinators. On the demand side, Ontario courts reported sending each month at least men convicted for soliciting prostitution to a Toronto "John School."

1 Under Canada's Temporary Worker Program, foreign workers may qualify to come to Canada, including individuals who come to Canada to work as "exotic dancers." Dancer and entertainment type visas have been abused and exploited by traffickers in many other countries.


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