Services for Trafficked Persons
Each trafficked person is an individual and each will have different concerns and service needs. One person may need only one kind of service, such as health care or shelter, while another may need a variety of different services.
The service model below describes some the services that trafficked persons may initially require.
Finding somewhere safe for a trafficked person to bathe, eat, and sleep is often the first and perhaps most important service you can provide. If the trafficked person’s safety is at risk, you may need to look for a shelter that has higher security, or consider housing the person elsewhere, possibly outside the immediate community. The shelter will want to know that the trafficked person is willing to respect any requirements that the shelter provider may have.
A person who has been trafficked is at risk of short and long-term health consequences and may seek care for injuries or illness, or to address neglected pre-existing health conditions. A trafficked person may be suffering from or coping with a number of mental, physical, sexual, and occupational health concerns. Accessing health services may be a new or uncomfortable experience for a trafficked person – they may require extra support when going to a health clinic or hospital.
A trafficked person may be suffering from a variety of emotional and mental health issues and may benefit from ongoing supportive counselling. They need to feel comfortable with their support person(s). When working through trauma, support should be provided by an experienced clinical counsellor or other professional therapist. Initially, the person may not be ready to work with a certified counsellor or therapist and may prefer to receive less formal emotional support such as peer counselling.
A trafficked person may require confidential, independent legal services to help resolve a variety of legal issues. These may include legal status in Canada for foreign nationals, employment-related issues, family law matters, potential criminal charges, and civil court claims.
A trafficked person who cannot speak the local language is likely to be more vulnerable to control by a trafficker. By finding an interpreter, or providing translated materials, you remove the language barrier and break one of the many invisible chains traffickers use to control and manipulate people. Remember that difficulties with language are not restricted to those who have been trafficked into Canada from another country: there are many areas of Canada where people speak only one or the other of our official languages, and there are a number of Canadian citizens or permanent residents who do not speak either. In addition, a person who is hearing impaired may need a sign-language interpreter.
A trafficked person may be involved with the criminal justice system either because they have chosen to report their situation to the police, or because they have been identified in a police investigation. The criminal justice system consists of three main parts: law enforcement (police), adjudication (courts), and corrections (jails, prisons, probation and parole). Victim Services are also considered part of the criminal justice system in Canada. The police and Crown are responsible for investigating and prosecuting, respectively, human trafficking situations and ensuring the safety of trafficked persons throughout the justice process. Victim service programs are responsible for helping victims of crime to navigate the criminal justice system and access information about services in their region.
A potentially trafficked person from another country may apply to be issued a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to gain or maintain status in Canada. The trafficked person is not required to assist in any criminal investigation or to testify against their trafficker in order to receive a TRP. Where there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person may have been trafficked, a CIC officer can issue an initial TRP. This initial TRP gives the person legal status in Canada for up to 180 days.
A person who experiences trafficking or exploitation by their employer, for their labour or as a domestic servant, may have a number of employment issues to resolve. Provincial and territorial offices responsible for employment standards can assist a person to make a complaint or file a claim related to non-payment of wages, being forced to pay a portion of their wages back to the trafficker, and being forced to sign an employment contract that does not meet minimum employment standards. If a trafficked person’s situation includes workplace health and safety issues, the agency responsible for workplace health and safety in your province may offer assistance.
Children and youth have unique needs and vulnerabilities in trafficking situations. They can face higher risk of exploitation by human traffickers due to factors including emotional and social immaturity, homelessness, prior experiences of violence and sexual abuse, misuse of drugs and alcohol, disconnection from family or trusted adults, family instability and failure to remain in school, work or day programs. A trafficked or sexually exploited youth may require similar types of services as a trafficked adult (shelter, emotional support, legal services, etc.), but these services must be age-appropriate for minors (under 19 or 18 years of age depending on province of residence).
This online training course deals primarily with the immediate and early support needs that a trafficked person may have. Once a trafficked person has left their situation of exploitation and immediate needs have been met, longer term supports will be required. Each trafficked person’s long term needs are unique, and they may include longer term housing, life skills training, education and training, career guidance, and long term trauma counselling. When the person gets to this stage, you can help them research what their options are.
Copyright © 2014 Province of British Columbia.