Rescue of human trafficking victims highlights need for survivor supports, immigration reform, says UFCW Canada
Toronto – February 14, 2019 – The recent rescue of 43 victims of human trafficking in Ontario highlights the need for holistic supports for survivors of trafficking and long-overdue reforms to Canada’s broken immigration system, says UFCW Canada.
Earlier this week, police officers executed 12 search warrants in Barrie and Wasaga Beach, where 43 human trafficking victims, mostly men, were discovered and brought to safety.
The victims were born in Mexico and had paid significant amounts of money to traffickers to be transported to Canada, under the pretense that they would receive education or work visas and would eventually qualify for permanent residency status. But once they arrived in Canada, they were made to live in deplorable conditions and were forced to work for a cleaning company that services locations in Collingwood, Innisfil, and Cornwall.
Police say the traffickers charged the victims for accommodations and transportation, leaving them with minimal compensation that sometimes amounted to less than $50 a month.
“Human trafficking is truly reprehensible, and we condemn those responsible for this horrendous act of exploitation,” says Paul Meinema, the National President of UFCW Canada. “As the union for agriculture workers, UFCW Canada has noticed an increase in human trafficking cases in the last few years, and this latest incident highlights the need for holistic supports for trafficking survivors that can help remove them from exploitative situations.”
“Our union also believes that responsible supply chain policies, enhanced permanent residency opportunities, and open work permits could help combat human trafficking by providing migrants with legitimate pathways to jobs and citizenship, and would serve as a good start to fixing our broken immigration system,” the UFCW leader adds. “We therefore encourage the federal government to take quick action on these issues to help prevent tragedies like the Barrie human trafficking case from occurring in the future.”
Report Worker Abuse
As a leading advocate for migrant workers, UFCW Canada has partnered with Legal Assistance of Windsor and the FCJ Refugee Centre to develop a new resource that enables migrant workers and refugees to report instances of labour exploitation, including human trafficking. Click here to learn more about our Report Worker Abuse resource.