Human trafficking is a growing issue in the area and on Monday Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis got a boost to help fight it.
Guelph MPP Liz Sandals was at the organization’s Elizabeth Street offices to announce $322,387 in funding specifically to address the issue of human trafficking.
“Our partners have told us how prevalent human trafficking is in Ontario and how difficult it is to identify and often harder to know how to intervene and help,” Sandals said.
“If you talk to the Guelph Police, they will tell you that contrary to public perception, human trafficking is an issue here in Guelph,” Sandals said.
The money comes from the provincial government’s Anti-Human Trafficking Community Support Fund.
“Human trafficking is a deplorable crime as well as a human rights violation that robs the safety, livelihood and dignity of those that are exploited and abused,” Sandals said, adding that it’s a “complex road” to helping them.
Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis Executive Director Sly Castaldi said they already have programs within their existing funding addressing the issue of human trafficking, but this funding will allow them to fund a full-time staff member dedicated to the issue and a part-time staff member who will do community outreach, awareness and education.
“For us, the important thing to recognize is that the agency has been doing human trafficking work without funding for some time. This particular funding is really welcome, because now we can actually dedicate a full-time staff member to working with the victims of human trafficking,” Castaldi said.
She added that working with victims of human trafficking is different than other services they offer in that it is much more intense and can involve more trauma than many of other clients.
The province has committed $18.6 million to 44 partners and agencies over three years as part of its Strategy To End Human Trafficking.
“We are helping survivors of human trafficking to heal and rebuild their lives,’ Sandals said, “as well as initiatives to end human trafficking.”