Para información sobre la trata laboral en Canada, haga clic aquí.
You were promised a job, and when you came to Canada, you found out that it did not exist or were told to do a different job.
You are working very long and/or unusual hours or are forced to be available to work all the time.
Your employer or recruiter has threatened you or your family with violence or deportation.
You receive very little or no pay for your work.
Labour trafficking (also known as forced labour and labour exploitation) is when someone uses violence, threats and/or lies to force someone to work. It usually includes poor and unsafe working conditions, abuse, discrimination, being made to work extremely long hours, and receiving illegal pay deductions or being paid less than your contract says or the minimum wage.
Labour trafficking can happen to anyone, but in Canada, low wage Temporary Foreign Workers, persons with precarious immigration status and/or without immigration status are at the greatest risk of abusive labour practices because they are often geographically isolated, are not aware of their labour rights in Canada, have limited access to community support and services, and may experience language barriers.
If you believe you or someone you know is being exploited and forced to work, contact the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010 or reach out via chat. Hotline Response Advocates are available 24/7 to provide confidential support and information. We won’t call the police unless you want us to or if we have a legal duty to report. We won’t judge you. You don’t have to share any information you’re uncomfortable sharing, and you can hang up anytime.
Click here to read more about the Hotline’s confidentiality policy.
Labour trafficking can be hard to detect because multiple forms of labour abuse can take place over time. There is no single indicator of labour trafficking; instead, it is often a combination of labour rights violations and abuses. The following signs may indicate that labour trafficking is occurring:
- You were promised a job, and when you came to Canada, you found out that it did not exist or were told to do a different job.
- You are working very long and/or unusual hours or are forced to be available to work all the time.
- You are restricted on what you can do, where you can go, or who you may talk to.
- You receive very little or no pay for your work.
- Your passport and other identity documents have been taken away from you.
- Your employer or recruiter has threatened you or your family.
- You owe a large or increasing debt to recruiters or your employer
- You are denied access to medical services.
- You have experienced physical, verbal or sexual abuse at work or from someone you work with.
When someone is trafficked for labour, there may not be outwardly obvious signs. Instead, it’s often a combination of signs and behaviours that indicate what’s happening. If you believe you or someone you know is being exploited and forced to work, contact the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010 or reach out via chat. Hotline Response Advocates are available 24/7 to provide confidential support and information. The Hotline takes a person-centred approach and will assist anyone regardless of their immigration status in Canada. The Hotline will not contact the police or immigration authorities unless you choose to.
Labour trafficking can happen anywhere, although there are certain industries where trafficking is known to take place more often, such as:
- Agriculture & food production (seasonal workers, farm workers)
- In-home care (child/elder care and home housekeeping services)
- Hospitality (housekeeping services in hotels, restaurant kitchen work)
- Construction and resource extraction (e.g. mining, timber, etc.)
- Services such as nail salons and commercial cleaning businesses
Anyone can experience forced labour, but some groups are more at risk, including foreign nationals and migrant workers in Canada who may:
- Not have legal immigration status in Canada
- Be in Canada to work/study/visit under temporary visa categories
- Have debts or are living in poverty
- Experience isolation due to language barriers
- Be unaware of labour rights and laws in Canada
Each person’s experience is unique. Sometimes, people are promised good jobs, education, or travel opportunities in Canada in exchange for their work. However, when they arrive, they are made to work in dangerous or unfair conditions for very long hours and with little or no pay.
Migrant workers may have signed a contract in a language they don’t understand, or the contract’s terms may differ from what was promised. Additionally, some workers may also be charged large, illegal recruitment fees and/or told they have a debt to repay, resulting in reduced or no pay for their work.
Traffickers (an employer, manager, recruiter, coworker or broker) may control workers by abusing them, threatening them, and taking away their pay and personal identification or employment documents. Workers may also be isolated because of language barriers, expired work permits, unclear immigration status, or missing identification documents. Traffickers may also lie to workers about their immigration status, threaten them with deportation or harm, or threaten to hurt a worker’s family if the worker speaks out.
Human trafficking is a crime against a person; it does not require an international border crossing, and you cannot consent to be trafficked. Human smuggling is a crime against a border, where an individual consents to illegally crossing an international border. Smuggled people can generally move freely once they have arrived in the destination country, whereas trafficking victims may have their freedoms restricted.
A trafficker for forced labour can be the person’s employer, manager, coworker, recruiter or broker. There may sometimes be an organized, transnational criminal element involved, and traffickers may be of the same ethnicity or cultural background as their victims.
Between 2019-2020, the Hotline identified 415 cases of human trafficking and 593 victims/survivors who were associated with these cases. 7% of human trafficking cases identified by the Hotline were about forced labour. Forced labour is a crime that is often hidden in plain sight. It is very challenging to collect reliable data on this crime, as victims are often very fearful of coming forward, and there may be language barriers, fear of retribution, or fear of law enforcement and immigration officials. For more information on the statistics of human trafficking, click here.
It is against the law in Canada to force someone to work against their will or to do work outside of their contracted agreement; this applies to both domestic and foreign nationals in Canada. The Immigration Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) makes it illegal to recruit or bring someone to Canada against their will, deceive them, coerce them or use force to control their movements. It is also illegal to keep someone in Canada against their will. People found guilty of forced labour can face serious consequences, including imprisonment and fines.
The Hotline recognizes that reporting human trafficking to law enforcement can be incredibly difficult for victims and survivors. We provide support to all individuals regardless of whether they choose to report to the police.
When you call the Hotline, you’ll hear a recording asking you to choose English, French, or Spanish. If you would like to speak to someone in Spanish, please say ‘Spanish’ when you are connected with a Hotline Response Advocate, and we will connect with a third-party interpretation service that will translate the call-in real time. We will also ask you if your call is ‘Urgent.’ Occasionally, if we are experiencing higher than normal call volumes, you may need to wait on hold until a Hotline Response Advocate is available to answer. Please remain on the line as we would like to speak with you about your situation or needs.
Once a call is answered the Hotline Response Advocate will ask about your current level of safety to ensure that you are safe to proceed with the call. The Advocate will ask you to tell them about what brought you to call the Hotline and may ask follow-up questions to further understand your situation. The Advocate will work with you to identify what services may be helpful to you and provide you with options for connecting with them. At the end of the call, you will receive a unique case number to reference if you need or want to call back.
To make the most appropriate service referral possible, The Advocate might ask for personal information like your age, gender identity, preferred language, cultural background, immigration status, and location. We only ask questions to help us find appropriate referrals and services for you based on what you say you need. We won’t try to convince you to access any services you don’t want. We won’t call the police unless you want us to or if we have a legal duty to report. We won’t judge you. You don’t have to share any information you’re uncomfortable sharing, and you can hang up anytime. Click here to read more about the Hotline’s confidentiality policy.