By Chad Ingram
Published Sept. 27 2016
Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott has reintroduced her private member’s bill taking aim at human trafficking following the sudden prorogation of the Ontario legislature earlier this month.
On Sept. 8 Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the legislature would prorogue before resuming for the fall giving her Liberal government the opportunity to reset its political agenda through a Throne Speech.
The prorogation of a legislature also kills any bills that are making their way through the legislative process.
Scott’s bill which she calls the Saving the Girl Next Door Act received second reading in Queen’s Park in February. For the the bill to become law it would’ve had to be called by the government then taken to committee for review then return to the legislature for a third reading.
In late 2014 Scott who is the PC party’s critic for women’s issues spearheaded the creation of an all-party standing committee on sexual violence and harassment on which she served as vice-chairwoman.
An alarming finding in the committee’s final report which was released last year was the frequency of human trafficking – typically of young girls and women for sexual purposes – occurring in Ontario.
The bill is divided into three main sections.
The first part proclaims there should be a day of awareness for human trafficking as there seems to little public understanding as to the severity of the problem.
The second suggests expanding current legislation and proposes that protection orders be able to be taken out directly against traffickers. Similar to a restraining order a protection order would require a perpetrator stay away from a victim for a minimum of three years or face a penalty of $50000 two years in jail or both.
The second section of the bill also calls for a new tort to be created allowing victims to go after traffickers for damages.
The third part of the bill requests that the current definition of “sexual offence” be expanded.
“It’s clear this government is not serious about human sex trafficking legislation when they continue to drive the agenda for their own gain” Scott said in the legislature on Sept. 21 criticizing the government for failing to pass legislation following the standing committee’s report.
“Frontline service providers and workers are exasperated that there is still nothing advancing the law to support them in fighting this horrific crime.”