Sex Trades

According to the Toronto Star (2015), an increasing number of young people are impacted by the rapidly growing sex trade. Throughout the Panel’s consultations, we heard from service providers that the sex trades represent a major threat to young people currently living in group care and foster care across the province. These residential services are said to be “recruitment grounds” for young people becoming involved with sex trades.

The Panel recognizes that this is an emerging issue with no co-ordinated approach to respond to it. Service providers across sectors are developing agency-specific responses to this threat, but there is no provincial or even inter-agency coordination of such efforts, resulting in an ad hoc approach to addressing this disturbing emergent trend. The Panel did hear of a more significant and forward-looking approach being developed by Covenant House in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), including outreach, community-based programs and a trauma-informed residential setting specifically focused on victims of the sex trades. This is an encouraging initiative, but scaling up to meet what appears to be a very rapid increase in the number of young people being recruited will be challenging. Leadership will be required to ensure that system responses across geographies are coordinated.