The CCR calls on the government to protect trafficked persons and migrant workers at risk

Media release

For immediate release

30 July 2018

The CCR calls on the government to protect trafficked persons and migrant workers at risk

On the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) calls on the federal government to take action to protect non-citizens in Canada who have been trafficked.

“Canada’s immigration policies too often put people in situations of extreme vulnerability, exposing them to exploitation including human trafficking,” said Claire Roque, CCR President. “When people escape their traffickers, they may be detained and deported from Canada, rather than being recognized as persons whose basic rights have been abused. We need changes to immigration legislation to make sure the rights of trafficked persons are protected.”

The shortcomings in Canadian immigration and criminal legislation increase the risks of gender-based violence; the most affected are often racialized women.

Closed work permits that tie migrant workers’ status in Canada to a single employer, and the lack of oversight of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program create opportunities for exploitation and trafficking.

“We know that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program leaves the door open to abuse – and even trafficking as the employer holds all the cards,’’ says Roque.

Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act contains no provisions specifically to protect trafficked persons. Although survivors of trafficking may be allowed to remain in Canada temporarily through a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP), few are issued.

The lack of clear and known paths to protection means that trafficked persons may feel that they have no alternative to remaining in the situation of exploitation, or they leave but find themselves in another.

The CCR calls on the government to do more to protect the rights of trafficked persons and those at risk of being trafficked, ensure their access to justice, provide them adequate support services, and coordinate and implement best practices federally and provincially.

For more information:

CCR Concerns: Human Trafficking in Canada:

Specific recommendations:

The CCR's recommendations include:

  1. The federal government should introduce a legislative amendment to bring a permanent and fundamental change in policy so that trafficked non-citizens in Canada are protected.
  2. Pending changes to the legislation to offer permanent protection to trafficked persons, the federal government should strengthen access to temporary protection through TRPs.
  3. The federal government should guarantee the right to all admitted as migrant workers, whatever the category, to apply for permanent residence at the same time as they apply for the work permit.
  4. The federal government should ratify the 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention, and implement all of its provisions.
  5. The federal government should amend the Criminal Code to remove the requirement of subjective fear on the part of the trafficked person.
  6. The federal government should ensure access to legal aid for survivors of trafficking in all provinces and territories.
  7. The federal government should develop prevention strategies that go beyond awareness-raising and address the root causes of trafficking and implementing policy/systemic changes. 
  8. The federal government should allocate adequate funds for support services for all vulnerable populations, including migrant workers, migrant sex workers, women, Indigenous women and others with or without status.
  9. The federal government should implement a national strategy for the coordination and implementation of best practices in services to persons trafficked into and within Canada, including all federally funded settlement services. The strategy should be developed taking into account best practices identified by NGOs.

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Colleen French, Communication Coordinator, Canadian Council for Refugees, 514-277-7223, ext.1, 514-602-2098 (cell),