Human Trafficking Unit

The OPS’s Human Trafficking Unit continued to grow in its mandate to help some of the most vulnerable members of our community. In 2019, it began training sessions with Ottawa-area hotels to help front desk service workers recognize and help potential human trafficking victims and survivors.

This was partnered with a new media campaign “You Are Not Alone” that provided a list of how to recognize someone trapped in sex trafficking, and paired it with a new 1-800 line for victims to call. It also outlined the different types of human trafficking and helped that educational push with a social media education campaign. The 1-800 line could be reached anywhere Canada, as sex trafficking victims tend to be frequently moved from city to city. In 2019, the HTU dealt with 36 cases, rescued 27 women, laid 223 total charges, 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.

Members of the HTU sit on a city-wide Ottawa Human Trafficking Frontline Committee that includes Ottawa Victim Services, St. Joseph’s Parish, OPS’s Victim Support Unit as well as other frontline agencies to provide exit strategies for those caught up in the abusive cycle of human trafficking.