Alberta launches provincial human trafficking task force

May 19 2020, 1:01 pm

On Tuesday, Alberta announced the launch of a provincial human trafficking task force to protect vulnerable Albertans.

“Alberta should be a place where people can live safely, free from exploitation and coercion. Sadly, human trafficking exists in our province, and it is our duty to bring these human rights violations to light and do more to protect those at risk,” said Premier Jason Kenney in a release.

“This provincial Human Trafficking Task Force brings together knowledgeable and dedicated individuals to provide advice on protecting and empowering some of Alberta’s most vulnerable.”

Addressing human trafficking was part of Kenney’s election campaign platform.

“Human trafficking is a terrible crime, a scourge that violates human dignity, that victimizes the vulnerable, that is a modern form of slavery,” added Kenney in Tuesday’s press conference.

“We too infrequently recognize that there is human trafficking in our own country, in our own province, in our own communities, many of our own neighbourhoods.”

The seven-person task force will be led by country music superstar and anti-human trafficking advocate Paul Brandt.

Other members include Heather Forsyth (former solicitor general and former minister of Children’s Services), Dale McFee (chief of police, Edmonton Police Services), Jan Fox (executive director, REACH Edmonton), Douglas Reti (director, Backwoods Energy, and former RCMP director general), Patricia Vargas (director, Catholic Social Services), and Tyler White (CEO, Siksika Health Services).

“Our government will always stand up for innocent, at-risk individuals who are being bought and sold in our province,” added Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

“We are committed to preventing human trafficking networks from taking root in Alberta – whether it involves sexual exploitation, forced labour, or illegal organ trade. This task force includes advocates with the skills and experience to do this important work.”

According to a release from the province, the task force will do the following:

  • Provide guidance and recommendations on supports for survivors.
  • Enhance collaboration among all stakeholders and organizations that work with survivors of human trafficking in order to prevent, protect and ensure their safety.
  • Engage experts to identify what actions are needed to bring transformational and sustainable change.
  • Provide recommendations to help government implement the nine-point action plan and lobby other levels of government to take coordinated action.

The first two meetings will take place on May 20 and May 21.