Unifor calls for stronger measures to combat human trafficking and modern-day slavery


Every year, Human Trafficking Awareness Day serves as a solemn reminder of the ongoing battle against one of the most egregious violations of human rights—modern-day slavery.

Together, we must eradicate human trafficking in all its forms.

Human trafficking presents in many forms in our communities and workplaces, including sexual exploitation, labour trafficking and domestic servitude, which all remain as pressing concerns here in Canada. As a labour union committed to the rights and freedoms of all working people, Unifor underscores its commitment to protect workers and families from the devastating, isolating, and exploitative impacts of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is a gendered crime, with women and girls accounting for 94% of victims, according to Stats Canada, based on police-reported human trafficking in Canada between 2012 and 2022.

Human trafficking thrives in secrecy and often goes unnoticed, but its impact is devastating. Workers are coerced, deceived, and exploited, forced into gruelling conditions with little to no pay. This exploitation occurs in various sectors, from agriculture to domestic work, robbing individuals of their freedom and dignity.

Typically, individuals who fall victim to human trafficking are kept in isolation and hidden from public view. Many of them face obstacles or are hesitant to seek help from authorities due to reasons such as a lack of trust in law enforcement, feelings of shame, fear of reprisals, language barriers, or a limited understanding of their human rights. Often, victims of human trafficking are vulnerable youth and people who experience social or economic barriers.

As a union, we work to empower workers and communities to recognize the signs of trafficking and prioritize prevention, protection, and prosecution to dismantle trafficking networks and support survivors. Through education, advocacy, and collaboration, we can shine a light on human trafficking and build more just and compassionate communities and workplaces where no individual is ever trafficked again.”

Human trafficking knows no borders, and combating it requires collective effort. Here are three things Unifor activists can do to stop human trafficking and support survivors:

  • Educate yourself and raise awareness: Learn about the signs of human trafficking and how it manifests in different forms. Understanding can help you recognize and respond to human trafficking.
  • Support survivors: Show compassion and support for survivors of human trafficking. Offer assistance in accessing essential services such as shelter, medical care, legal aid, and counseling while honoring their autonomy and privacy.
  • Get help: If you think you might be a victim of human trafficking or think someone else may be, contact the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010 or hotline@ccteht.ca. The hotline is available 24/7/365 with support available in more than 200 languages. The hotline can connect callers to local service providers and/or emergency services in communities across the country.

Unifor is proud to support national and international efforts to support victims of human trafficking through our Social Justice Fund. Together, through this important fund, we’ve supported organizations such as Covenant House Toronto, Canada’s largest agency dedicated to serving youth who are homeless, trafficked or at risk and Horizons of Friendship, which supports survivors of trafficking and violence in Guatemala.