What is Human Trafficking?

From Public Safety Canada and Toronto.ca

Human trafficking is a serious criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. Human trafficking can include recruiting, harbouring or controlling a person’s movements using force, physical or psychological coercion, or deception. Traffickers often make victims do labour (for example, domestic, physical and manual labour) or sexual services.

Human trafficking is not: human smuggling that involves moving someone across a border; consensual, paid sex work by individuals 18 years or older.

What is Sex Trafficking?

From Public Safety Canada and 

Sex trafficking is a form of human trafficking. It involves recruiting, transporting or holding victims for sexual exploitation. Sex traffickers get their victims to provide sexual services through different forms of coercion.

Ontario is a major centre for human trafficking in Canada, accounting for more than two thirds of cases nationally. The majority of human trafficking cases occur in the GTA. Of those, most are instances of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. Most often, predators pose as friends and boyfriends, targeting young females. The average age of recruitment in Canada is 12 to 14 years old. Perpetrators often sell the dream of romance, an exciting life, and promises of love or money. In reality, victims of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation live a horrific nightmare from which it is very difficult to escape.

What is Sex Trafficking?
Image by the Canadian Center to End Human Trafficking

Who is at risk of Sex Trafficking?

From Public Safety Canada

Women and men of all ages are potentially at risk of being sex trafficked, but an overwhelming majority of victims are female (97%). Further, 48% of those females were between 18-24 years old, 28% were under the age of 18, and 26% were 25 years of age or older.* The following individuals are most at risk:

  • Indigenous women and girls
  • Migrants and new immigrants
  • Persons who identify as LGBTQ2+
  • Persons living with disabilities
  • Children in the child welfare system
  • Children in the foster system
  • Children who have been victims of child sexual abuse
  • At-risk youth (those who are socially or economically disadvantaged)
  • Migrant workers

Additionally, youth who are active and unmonitored on the internet are at risk of sex trafficking. Social media platforms, interactive gaming platforms, and chat websites are ideal environments for sex traffickers searching for their next target. BridgeNorth strongly encourages responsible use of the internet by youth and provides education around this subject here.

Who does BridgeNorth help?

BridgeNorth is based in York Region, Ontario, Canada and primarily serve female-bodied, at-risk youth between the ages of 12 and 24 who are located in York and South Simcoe Regions. 

We are a connected, mobile, and responsive community of bridge builders and we work where you are right now. Our outreach team is available for your call, message, or text.


*Available data on this crime only provides a partial view of the scope of human trafficking offences in Canada. This is because human trafficking is often hidden, potentially transnational, and involves victims who may be unaware that they are being trafficked, in precarious or vulnerable situations, fearful or distrustful of authorities, fearful of deportation or loss of employment, or who may be facing threats from the traffickers. This makes it difficult to detect and subject to underreporting to police. Click here for more information.