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Human Trafficking Statistics in Canada

Human trafficking is an an abhorrent criminal act that exploits vulnerable people.

One would like to think that such an act doesn’t happen in this day and age, however, human trafficking affects around 40.3 million people around the world today.

This article dives deep into human trafficking statistics in Canada, showing the reality of how it happens, who it affects most, and more.

An Overview of Human Trafficking

At its core, human trafficking is a crime that takes away someone’s freedom—with the end goal of profit for a group of criminals. They force or coerce people to provide labour and other services for money.

Although it might sound like human trafficking involves kidnapping or physical force against someone, this isn’t always the case. Human traffickers also trap their victims using psychological means.

After gaining a person’s trust, human traffickers can use the following methods to groom and control their victims:

  • Trickery;
  • Deception;
  • Blackmail;
  • Manipulation;
  • Threatening the victim or their loved ones;
  • Threats of deportation;
  • Withholding pay; or
  • Aiding drug addiction in people with substance use disorders.

A scared young girl with a man’s hand covering her mouth

Human Trafficking Statistics in Canada

Three of the most common types of human trafficking happening worldwide are sexual exploitation, debt bondage, and forced labour.

Sadly, Canada isn’t free of this type of organized crime. Let these human trafficking statistics paint a very real picture:

1. 96% of Human Trafficking in Canada Involves Women and Girls

The most prevalent type of human trafficking in Canada is sexual exploitation involving women.

According to police-reported incidents, 96% of the cases involve young women, and around 25% of the cases (one in four victims) involve girls under 18 years of age.

2. More Than 52% of Incidents Had No Accused Person

Human trafficking is a serious criminal offence in Canada. Unfortunately, many victims (more than 52%) would rather avoid reporting an accused person. This could be because of the following:

  • Fear for one’s safety;
  • Fear of being charged criminally because of associated crimes;
  • Conditioning by traffickers to distrust government authorities;
  •  A complicated and lengthy judicial process;
  • Intimate relationship with the exploiter;
  • Trauma from recounting the experience; and/or
  • Stigma and shame of disclosure.

3. It Takes Around 373 Days to Resolve a Human Trafficking Case

In Canada, human trafficking cases take around twice the length of time it takes to resolve an adult criminal case involving violence. For human trafficking cases, the reported median time for the case is 373 days versus 176 days for adult criminal cases with a violent charge.

4. 82% of Human Trafficking Incidents are in Metropolitan Areas

A vast majority (82%) of human trafficking cases in Canada happen in metropolitan areas like Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, and Hamilton.

5. 65% of Human Trafficking Incidents Were Reported in Ontario

Within a timeframe of ten years (2010 to 2020), it was observed that 65% of police-reported incidents of human trafficking happened in Ontario.

A man holds up a placard that says “Human trafficking happens here

6. Nova Scotia Has the Highest Rate of Human Trafficking in Canada

Although the previous statistics showed many cases of human trafficking occurring in Ontario, it is important to compare this to the area’s population.

As of 2019, Nova Scotia’s human trafficking incidents accounted for 10% of the ones reported in the country—even though Nova Scotia had only less than 3% of the country’s population. Therefore, the rate of human trafficking in Nova Scotia is 7.5 times higher than the national average rate.

7. The Exact Number of Trafficked People in Canada: Unknown

Some victims may choose not to report the incident because they fear for their safety. Though there is no data specific for Canada, it is estimated that only 0.04% of human trafficking cases are detected internationally.

8. 77% of Canadians Feel They Can’t Recognize Signs of Human Trafficking

According to research, 77% of Canadians feel that they cannot recognize the signs of human trafficking in someone they know.

Here are a few red flags that could help you recognize a potential human trafficking situation:

  •  Poor living conditions;
  •  Living with the employer and/or other employees;
  • The individual cannot be spoken to alone;
  • The individual’s answers seem scripted;
  •  Signs of physical abuse;
  • Signs of substance abuse;
  •  Submissive or fearful behaviour;
  • Sudden change in appearance;
  • Isolation;
  •  Employers holding the victim’s identity documents; and/or
  •  The victim is unpaid or paid very little.

9. 81% of the Accused Were Men and Boys

Approximately 81% of the people accused of human trafficking are men and boys. Around 41% were aged 18 to 24 years old, while 36% were 25 to 34 years old.

Human Trafficking Recovery: Start the Journey

These human trafficking statistics in Canada show us that this country is not exempt from this form of organized crime.

If you or anyone you know is a victim of any form of human trafficking, seek help from the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline.

For survivors of human trafficking involving substance abuse, Freedom from Addiction offers a comprehensive Human Trafficking Recovery program that addresses both the substance use disorder and psychological trauma from the experience.

Contact us today to learn about how we help human trafficking survivors rebuild their lives.


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