More than 40 event professionals turned out this morning for the Toronto meetings industry’s first education session on human trafficking and to learn the first steps the planning community can take to help combat the crime.
“Human Trafficking in Our Backyard: A Conversation” was held at St. James Cathedral Centre in downtown Toronto. The session was spearheaded by Sandy Biback, CMP Emeritus, CMM, Imagination+ Meeting Planners Inc. Its organizing team was comprised of:
- Ruth Abrahamson, Base Consulting and Management Inc.
- Ellen Boddington, CMP CMM, Stellar Conference & Event Management Inc.
- Catherine Paull, CMP, Cathering Paull Meeting Management Inc.
- Gale Gingrich, CMP (retired) CAAP
- Robert Thompson, A-V Canada
- Rita Plaskett, CMP CMM, Agendum Inc.
It was sponsored by St. James Cathedral Centre, AV-Canada and Base Consulting, all of which donated their services (venue, AV and registration).
Biback began researching the issue of human trafficking and what can be done to combat it at the planner and venue levels more than a year ago. She said that she found plans to work with hotels, train people, talk to educators and school-age students and more. However, with the exception of one small group in Washington, nothing addressed the problem from a planner perspective.
“To my knowledge, in Toronto there has never been a conversation between planners and hoteliers—at any level,” she explained. “This breakfast is going to change that. This breakfast is a conversation on what we can all do. On what the problem is. And what resources are out there.”
Attendees learned about human trafficking in their backyard from:
- Jennifer Richardson, BSW, RSW, MSW (candidate), Director Provincial Anti-Human Trafficking Coordination Office, Community and Development Division, Ministry of Community and Social Services
- Nikki Dube, Crisis Intervention Worker, Women’s Support Network of York Region
- Michele Anderson, Advocate, Covenant House
- Kevin Porter, General Manager, Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites
Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock and Critic for Women’s Issues at Queen’s Park, was unable to attend but delivered her comments via a video. She emphasized the need for awareness of human trafficking, explaining that 95 percent of victims are women, the average age is 14 and 90 percent are Canadian-born. She also spoke about the Saving the Girl Next Door act that she has tabled in the provincial legislature.
Over the course of two hours, the other speakers detailed the nature of the crime. Richardson, who was herself a victim of trafficking, explained that trafficking means to coerce, harbour, transport and conceal someone. It may include moving the victim from place to place. She also talked about how hotels, the internet and gangs are involved in the crime, which increases during conferences, conventions and special events.
Porter, the GM at Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites, outlined training he and his staff had undergone to help identify possible victims and perpetrators, and assist police. Members of the hotel’s housekeeping team were particularly instrumental in spotting trafficking, he said.
FIRST STEPS: WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
LEARN MORE: RESOURCES
Sandy Biback and her team have supplied the following list of resources and information for anyone who would like to learn more about the crime of human trafficking and what they can do about it.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN OUR BACKYARD: A CONVERSATION
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Below are some of the resources found most useful in researching for the breakfast. Each one will lead you in many more directions. Have any you want to share? Let us know firstname.lastname@example.org
Below are questions Planners can ask when submitting RFP’s for space. Taken from a variety of resources including www.ecpatusa.org and Convene Magazine (www.pcmaconvene.org )
The travel industry plays a prominent role as an enabler to criminals who transport and sell child & adult trafficking victims.
- The trafficking of women & children occurs in Canada. Are you aware of this growing problem as it relates to the use of hotels by criminals for this activity? Yes/No
- Does your company have a policy against human trafficking? Yes/No. Please elaborate
- Does your hotel train employees to identify and report suspicious instances where child trafficking might be occurring on your property? Yes/No
- Has your company signed on to the ECPAT-USA Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (www.thecode.org www.ecpatusa.org), or receiving any similar training?
Below is a report from Statistics Canada (as provided by speaker Nikki Dube)
Statistics Canada -2014 Report
Rate of police-reported human trafficking violations nearly doubled between 2013 and 2014
- In 2014, Canadian police services reported 206 violations of human trafficking in Canada, accounting for less than 1% of all police-reported incidents. Expressed as a rate, there was less than one police-reported violation of human trafficking for every 100,000 Canadians.
- After a slight decrease between 2009 and 2010, the police-reported number and rate of human trafficking has continued to increase. Between 2013 and 2014, the rate of human trafficking violations almost doubled (0.33 per 100,000 population and 0.58 per 100,000 population, respectively). It is important to note that the increase in human trafficking violations may be influenced by improved methods of reporting, detecting and investigating these incidents (Public Safety Canada 2012).
More than half of police-reported human trafficking incidents involve another offence
- Within any one criminal incident, there can be a number of offences committed. Between 2009 and 2014, there were 506 police-reported incidents that involved a violation of human trafficking. Of these incidents, 279 (55%) involved at least one other violation. Human trafficking was the most serious violation in the majority of incidents that involved more than one violation (88%).
- Among the 246 incidents where human trafficking was the most serious offence in an incident involving more than one violation, 61% had a secondary offence that was prostitution-related.
- Among the 33 police-reported incidents where human trafficking was not the most serious violation, these incidents were most commonly related to kidnapping/forcible confinement (36%), sexual assault (level 1) (18%), and assault (all levels) (18%).
Victims of police-reported human trafficking are mostly young, mostly women
- Between 2009 and 2014, there were 396 victims of police-reported human trafficking. The vast majority of these victims were female (93%).
- Victims of human trafficking were generally young. Among victims of human trafficking reported between 2009 and 2014, close to half (47%) were between the ages of 18 and 24. Additionally, one-quarter (25%) of human trafficking victims were under the age of 18.
- The majority (91%) of victims of human trafficking reported by police between 2009 and 2014 knew the person accused of the crime. More specifically, the most common relationship between the victim and accused was a business relationship (23 %), followed by a casual acquaintance (22%), and a non-spousal intimate partner (18%).
- Between 2009 and 2014, 100 human trafficking victims, or 3 in 10 victims (30%) experienced physical injury as a result of the human trafficking incident reported by police, the majority of injuries were reported as being minor.Note8 Of those victims who reported an injury, the most common cause of injury was from physical force (81%).
Persons accused of human trafficking tend to be men
- The majority of people accused of police-reported human trafficking between 2009 and 2014 were male. More specifically, police services identified 459 persons accused of human trafficking, 83% of whom were male.
- Persons accused of human trafficking were most commonly between the ages of 18 to 24 (41%) and 25 to 34 (36%)
Majority of human trafficking court cases result in finding of stayed or withdrawn
- Statistics Canada collects information on court cases involving human trafficking through the Integrated Criminal Court Survey (ICCS). According to the ICCS, from 2005/2006—when human trafficking legislation was introduced—to 2013/2014, there were 53 completed adult criminal court cases where a human trafficking offence was the most serious offence. It is important to note that this method of analysis does not describe all completed cases processed by the courts that had a human trafficking charge as part of the case.
- Of the 53 completed adult human trafficking cases, the majority (58%) resulted in a finding of stayed or withdrawn, while close to one-third (30%) resulted in a guilty finding.
- Of those guilty cases, almost one-quarter of accused were sentenced to custody (23%), 21% received a sentence of probation, and 13% received other sentences. From 2005/2006 to 2013/2014, there were two human trafficking cases where the accused was acquitted.