N.S. commits an additional $1.4 million to combat human trafficking
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia has the highest rate of human trafficking incidents in Canada, with 2.1 victims for every 100,000 people, according to the provincial government.
In an effort to combat the problem, the Nova Scotia government has just committed more than $1 million to programs that work directly with victims and survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Miia Suokonautio, executive director of the YWCA Halifax, says the initiative is exactly what they have been asking for.
“They are our girls. They’re my daughters, but they’re your daughters, and they’re our community’s daughters,” said Suokonautio at Thursday’s announcement.
To date, the province has dedicated more than $4 million annually to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Now, it has committed to providing an additional $1.4 million a year over the next five years to support new and current initiatives.
The province has also committed to hiring family and victim support navigators for the Halifax Regional Municipality, Cape Breton Regional Municipality, and the South Shore, as well as funding for a new Crown prosecutor dedicated to prosecuting human trafficking cases.
“I’m hoping, based on the work of these resources and the work of our advocate community, that the next time we see statistics we won’t be at the top of that list,” said Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey.
The money will also allow the Jane Paul Indigenous Women’s Resource Centre to reopen. The centre closed last year due to a lack of funding.
“It means the world to us. It’s exciting and the truth of reconciliation, this is true reconciliation,” said Annie Bernard Daisley, who runs the centre and is the president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association. “If the province wants to talk about reconciliation, this is it. This is where it begins.”
The Cape Breton facility helped about 80 women last year. They hope to have it back up and running by April.
“The women who utilize the Jane Paul Centre are more at risk and more vulnerable to get missing and murdered, so this money that the province is giving us is going to have a huge positive impact for our future, our women, our little girls,” said Bernard Daisley.
A series of roundtable discussions is also being planned, which will allow victims to meet each other and share their stories.