Nova Scotia is making an investment to combat human trafficking.
The province will be spending an additional $1.4 million a year over the next five years on programs, services and supports to raise awareness, help with prevention and directly assist victims and survivors.
The minister responsible for the Status of Women, Kelly Regan, says human trafficking and sexual exploitation are complex and pervasive social problems with devastating impacts on our communities.
“These are crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls,” Regan said at the announcement. “This is a gendered issue.”
According to police-reported violations across the country from 2009-2016, Regan said 95 per cent of human trafficking victims were female and 72 per cent were below the age of 25.
In that same time period, there were 63 police-reported human trafficking violations in Nova Scotia, 58 of which were reported in Halifax.
“We know it will take the combined efforts of government and community organizations to create meaningful and sustainable change,” Regan said.
The YWCA and Association of Black Social Workers are some of the organizations getting additional funding, along with the Jane Paul Indigenous Women’s Resource Centre in Sydney.
The province also plans to partner with local community groups to host roundtable discussions throughout the province.
“We know that the voices of victims, survivors, their families and the groups that support them are an important piece of addressing this issue,” said Regan.
Nova Scotia will be hiring a new Crown prosecutor dedicated to human trafficking cases and three family and victim support navigators — including one in the Halifax Regional Municipality — to ensure survivors have the services they need to heal and move forward.
“These navigators will work collectively with survivors and families, communities, law enforcement and others amongst our stakeholders to deliver comprehensive responses to the impacts of these crimes,” said Minister of Justice, Mark Furey.
In addition, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia will get funding to hire three youth program coordinators, which will focus on teaching youth how to protect themselves from human trafficking and exploitation.
Nova Scotia has the highest rate of human trafficking incidents in Canada with 2.1 per 100,000 people.