**** JUSTICE Media Release
Provincial Approach to Address Human Trafficking, Sexual Exploitation
Human trafficking and sexual exploitation are devastating to victims and survivors, families and entire communities.
That is why government is investing more into programs, services and supports that will raise awareness, prevention and directly help victims and survivors, with an added focus on Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities.
“Human trafficking and sexual exploitation have a devastating impact on all our communities,” said Kelly Regan, Minister of Community Services and Minister responsible for the Status of Women. “They are crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls. It will take the combined efforts of government, non-profit and community organizations to create meaningful change.”
The province will provide an additional $1.4 million a year over the next five years, to support new and current initiatives.
“Only by working together can we put a stop to these horrific crimes and help victims and survivors begin to heal and move forward,” said Mark Furey, Minister of Justice. “We know this is a pressing issue and we are taking immediate action to address it, while ensuring that programs, supports and services for victims and survivors are readily and easily accessible.”
The province will also:
— hire family and victim support navigators for Halifax Regional Municipality, Cape Breton Regional Municipality and the South Shore. These navigator roles will provide additional support to African Nova Scotian and Indigenous victims and survivors
— provide funding to hire a new Crown prosecutor dedicated to prosecuting human trafficking cases and for specialized training for Crown prosecutors on human trafficking issues
— designate six provincewide positions from the Additional Officer Program as dedicated investigators in the areas of gender-based violence, specifically domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking investigators
— the province will also provide funding to re-open the Jane Paul Indigenous Women’s Resource Centre
The voices of victims, survivors and community partners are an important part of understanding and addressing human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Government with community partners, will launch a series of roundtable sessions across the province to hear directly from Nova Scotians who have been impacted.
“The YWCA is pleased that the province is making such a significant contribution to the lives of vulnerable youth. At the end of the day, we know that human trafficking and sexual exploitation affects girls and particularly girls from vulnerable communities the most and we love to see investments in girls.”
– Miia Suokonautio, executive director, YWCA Halifax
“We work closely with some of the most vulnerable women and girls in this province who often find themselves criminalized as a result of trauma, violence and exploitation. This funding will allow us to offer evidence-based programming that addresses the risk factors that make girls vulnerable to being trafficked and provides safety and support to wrap around young women who have been harmed.”
– Emma Halpern, executive director, Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia
— Nova Scotia has the highest rate of human trafficking incidents in the country with 2.1 in 100,000 people
— to date, government has committed more than $4 million annually to address human trafficking and sexual exploitation
— this funding includes the cost of two municipal officers and two RCMP officers, as well as operational costs for the Nova Scotia Human Trafficking Unit, an integrated unit that uses a victim-centred approach
— in 2019, the Department of Justice began the Community Crime Intervention Initiative, which provides funding to help communities combat crime
— the Department of Community Services provides funding to support three sexual violence prevention youth outreach programs delivered by community-based organizations. The program includes specific supports for marginalized groups, such as Mi’kmaw, African Nova Scotian and rural youth
— more than 500 social workers, foster parents and residential care staff have received training to increase their awareness and understanding of this issue so they may better support young people
— government has partnered with the YWCA Halifax to provide resources and deliver community-based supports to youth and families from across the province who have been affected by sexual exploitation or human trafficking
— the Department of Community Services created specialized placement options for children in care who are at risk of, are being, or have been, sexually exploited
— the free online training course, Supporting Survivors of Sexual Violence is available to any Nova Scotian concerned about sexual violence who would like to learn how to support someone who has survived it