Private Member's Bills

SAVING THE GIRL NEXT DOOR ACT PASSES SECOND READING


February 22, 2016 would have marked Ontario’s first Human Trafficking Awareness Day, as called for by the Saving the Girl Next Door Act, 2016. PC Women’s Critic, Laurie Scott, MPP, introduced Bill 158 last week, calling attention to the human trafficking crisis in Ontario.  

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, the Ontario Legislature voted unanimously to carry Bill 158 through Second Reading. It was then referred to the Justice Committee.

The Saving the Girl Next Door Act, 2016 will take immediate steps in the fight against human trafficking. This heinous practice has been referred to as nothing short of modern day slavery.

Human trafficking is an underground and fast-growing crime that does not just happen in other parts of the world. It is an offence that happens right under our noses, in our neighbourhoods and our towns. This is a crime that starts and stays in Canada – over 90% of victims are Canadian-born. Worse, Ontario is a major hub for human trafficking in Canada, as the proximity to cities along the Highway 401 corridor provides an accessible thoroughfare for traffickers, and the ability to keep victims isolated.

Victims – predominantly girls averaging the age of 14, shockingly as young as 11 – are lured into a nightmare of a life that they can almost never escape on their own. Traffickers recruit, transport, harbour and control the girl next door for sexual exploitation or forced labour.

The Saving the Girl Next Door Act, 2016 has three critical components. First, a day of awareness will be created to shed much-needed light on the seriousness and severity of human trafficking in Ontario. There is not enough public awareness and education on this crime, and we know that the uncovering and appropriate attention to this world is only getting started. 

Second, the bill will expand the use of current law in a way that would have an immediate impact. The bill will make it possible for a protection order to be taken out directly against the trafficker. A protection order, similar to a restraining order, would force the perpetrator to stay away from the survivor for a minimum of three years. Failure to comply with the protection order would evoke a penalty of up to $50,000 or up to two years of jail, or both.

Third, the bill will increase public awareness of traffickers through the expansion of the definition of “sex offence” under Christopher’s Law (Sex Offender Registry), 2000 to include offences related to the trafficking of persons. With this aspect, anyone would be able to find out if a trafficker is in their community.

In Canada, we are still struggling to quantify just how many victims get swallowed into this life. This crime targets the girl next door, and she needs our help.

Ontario is far behind other provinces when it comes to combatting human trafficking and taking significant action. Similar legislation was enacted in Manitoba in 2012 and it has seen multiple victims rescued and traffickers put behind bars for breaching protection orders.

This bill stands in line with a number of government action calls I have made on human trafficking. It builds on my motion in the Legislature almost a year ago, in May 2015, which was passed unanimously. I called on the government to create a multi-jurisdictional and coordinated taskforce of law enforcement agencies, Crown prosecutors, judges, victims’ services and frontline agencies. Modelled after the “Guns and Gangs” taskforce, this body would foster partnerships with community service providers and other stakeholders to share resources and best practices.

Protecting the safety and dignity of Ontario residents, especially our youth, is a given. How this underground practice continues is a wrongdoing itself. We need to take immediate steps with some teeth, and this bill serves to take such measures. 

Both my bill and taskforce must be implemented. We owe it to our frontline workers, survivors, and advocates, and most importantly, we owe it to the girl next door.

Read the debate.

Read the bill.


 SCOTT TAKES ACTION TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING

 

In May 2015 Laurie Scott, MPP, Haliburton – Kawartha Lakes – Brock and the PC Caucus critic for Women’s Issues, stood in the Legislature to debate her Private Member’s motion which calls on the Liberal government to immediately take action and create a provincial task force to combat human trafficking in Ontario.

 Human trafficking, often described as a form of modern day slavery, is a unique crime in that the commodity, the victim, is sexually exploited, earning a trafficker over $280,000 per year from just one victim. In 2014, there were 149 occurrences of human trafficking leading to 365 charges laid by Toronto Police Services alone.

The province is home to the largest number of domestic human trafficking cases, where the victims are born and raised right here in Ontario. These victims are manipulated by their trafficker, removed from their normal life to live and work in horrific conditions. 

They are moved from one community to another, particularly along Highway 401, where their ‘services’ are offered through online ads and social media

The motion calls for a provincial task force to combat human trafficking in Ontario, having a structure, complement and funding model similar to the existing Guns and Gangs Provincial Task Force. 

This new initiative would create a team of police, prosecutors and victim’s services dedicated exclusively to fighting human trafficking and allow for coordinated information sharing between police services and consistent specialized services for victims.

Through this combination of expertise, the task force achieves the dual purpose of apprehending criminals and also assisting their victims from the first day of the investigation

The motion received all party support in in the Legislature but requires the government to take action on creating the Task Force, so we can finally start to tackle this problem.

 

Read the Debate


Media Coverage

http://www.torontosun.com/2015/05/14/ontario-mpp-seeks-human-trafficking...

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/05/18/laurie-scott-urges-ontario...


Update: On June 24th, Toronto Police Services annouced that they had conducted a two day, province-wide human trafficking investigation that resulted in a number of charges being laid. You can read more about Operation Northen Spotlight here: http://torontopolice.on.ca/newsreleases/32182

 

MPP Laurie Scott's statement on Operation Northern Spotlight

"I would like to congratulate the Toronto Police Service, along with the 20 other participating police services for their work on Operation Northern Spotlight.

Human Trafficking is a local, provincial and national problem that affects the most vulnerable in society. Operation Northern Spotlight demonstrates the clear need for a permanent coordinated provincial strategy to effectively investigate and combat these heinous crimes.

A provincial task force similar to the Guns and Gangs Taskforce that brings together police services, victim’s services and NGO’s is needed to take immediate and meaningful action in targeting human trafficking.

 

Again, I commend all of those involved with Operation Northern Spotlight and their critical work."


Laurie Scott’s Private Members Bill to increase fiscal transparency before elections

Read the Bill

 

An Act to Amend the Endangered Species Act

May 11, 2012 Scott Prevails with Private Member’s Bill
April 25, 2012 Scott introduces bill to amend Endangered Species Act