Human Trafficking

When the average resident thinks about human trafficking, it is usually with ties to illegal immigration and the smuggling of persons over international borders. 

But human trafficking can take on multiple forms of abuse, including sex trafficking, forced labour, domestic servitude and even organ removal.

Types of Human Trafficking


Victims of sex trafficking are manipulated or forced to engage in sex acts for someone else’s commercial gain. Sex trafficking is not prostitution.

Definitions from Blue Campaign (USA)


Victims of domestic servitude are forced to work in isolation and are hidden in plain sight as nannies, housekeepers or domestic help.


Victims of forced labour are compelled to work for little or no pay, often manufacturing or growing the products we use and consume every day.


Victims of organ trafficking are lured and recruited through debt bondage, and organs are forcibly removed to sell on the black market.

What all of these types of trafficking have in common is a victim/survivor; someone who has become compromised and forced into doing work they would not otherwise do. It’s a cycle of abuse, where the victim is often groomed, then exploited. And sex trafficking is very different from sex trade workers; where the victim is completely controlled in a modern-day form of slavery.

You can learn how to recognize signs of human trafficking in friends and family and help them to get out.


  • Being isolated from family or friends.
  • Being controlled by threats, force or deception.
  • Being driven to and from locations, escorted at all times, or watched.
  • Being told to keep in constant contact (given 2 or more cellphones).
  • Someone else always speaks for them.
  • Suddenly receiving expensive gifts.
  • Earning money but not able to keep it.
  • No access to own ID.
  • Being moved frequently; claiming to be “new” or  “just visiting”
  • Paid an illegal recruitment fee to obtain a job.


  • Depression and mood changes
  • Malnutrition
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Guilt and shame
  • Drug use
  • Signs of physical abuse
  • New Tattoo’s

Contact us


613.236.1222 extension 5005

You are not alone. We can help. Call 1-800-292-1168

Ottawa Police Service Human Trafficking Unit

The Ottawa Police Service’s (OPS) Human Trafficking Unit (HTU) has partnered with service-oriented agencies across the city, like hotels and entertainment groups, to target those victims or survivors and offer them the supports they need to get out. Officers from the unit provide training for front-desk service workers to help them identify sex traffic victims that may visit their establishment. The HTU is also a member of the city-wide Ottawa Human Trafficking Frontline Committee, that includes Ottawa Victim Services, St. Joseph’s Parish, OPS Victim Crisis Unit, and other frontline agencies who are engaged in providing exit strategies for those caught up in the abusive cycle of human trafficking.

Additionally, the OPS has contacts with support service agencies city-wide that can help those who want out. 

While Ottawa does see forced labour and domestic servitude cases from time to time, the majority of human trafficking in the city revolves around the sex trade. On any given day, there is at least one sex trade worker in every single hotel across the city, according to OPS HTU officers. 

Many of these victims can be runaways, between the ages of 14-22, with little or no support from friends or family. Often they are controlled by their addictions and lured into the profession with false promises of security and access to those substances. Most sex trafficking victims have been groomed and conditioned to believe their exploiter is trustworthy and not someone using them; others are controlled by fear and brutality. While a sex trade worker will receive a cut of the money she brings in, a sex traffic victim will receive no money. It provides the trafficker an easier means to control the activities of their victim and create a dependency.

In 2018, the HTU dealt with 45 cases, rescued 31 women, and helped with several high-profile joint initiatives both domestically and internationally. Victims of this type of criminality are often rotated between cities down the Montreal to Toronto corridor, and sometimes into the United States.

If you, or someone you know, is caught up in the vicious cycle of human trafficking, and they want out, please call us. We have set up a 1-800 number to reach us, no matter where you are in Canada.

We can help.