Alberta accepts human trafficking task force recommendations

Alberta’s United Conservative government is moving ahead with calls to action from a task force on human trafficking, including establishing an office to combat the practice.

Premier Jason Kenney told a news conference in Calgary on Sunday where the Alberta Human Trafficking Task Force’s report was released that all Albertans owe a debt of gratitude to the panel, which heard stories from victims and survivors and was chaired by country music star Paul Brandt.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro told the news conference that an office for combating human trafficking would provide support and access to services for victims and survivors.

Shandro noted it would need to form a strong partnership with the Indigenous community, and that an “Indigenous-specific response would need to be incorporated in every aspect of the office’s operations, support, training, education as well as outreach.”

For April Eve Wiberg, a survivor of sexual exploitation and member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation in northern Alberta, seeing the finished report was overwhelming.

“I was overcome with gratitude because I really truly feel like we were heard, we were finally heard and believed,” said Wiberg at the announcement in Calgary. 

Jason Kenney speaks at an announcement accepting the recommendations of Alberta’s task force on human trafficking on March 27 in Calgary. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

After nearly two years, working with nearly 100 experts and survivors, the task force made five recommendations to the province. They include creating an office to combat human trafficking, better access to victims services and universally branded and consistent awareness, education and training.

That is, education not only for adults, but young people as well, which will be taught in elementary school in the fall, according Kenney.

It is meant “to introduce the issue in an age appropriate way at the earliest ages for both boys and girls to understand that consent is central to protecting human dignity,” he said.

In 2019, police reported 511 human trafficking incidents in Canada, with 31 in Alberta. 

The Human Trafficking Task Force recommendations are:

  1. Creation of an Alberta office to combat trafficking in persons.
  2. Prioritized/enhanced access to services for victims, survivors and those at risk of being trafficked.
  3. Universally branded and consistent awareness, education and training programs and protocols.
  4. Human trafficking specific legislative action, update and harmonization.
  5. Enhanced, centralized data collection and research.

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